No narration?

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No narration?

#1 Post by isobellesophia » Mon Apr 27, 2020 2:12 pm

Hello everyone, i just want to discuss one thing about narration.

Honestly, for my feature in my project, (As a very fast keyboard typer-girl), i noticed everytime i make a dialogue for characters and stuff, i had no narration for no reason at all, maybe there is a reason..

Because what i mean is, my project featured a real-world-like-talking thingy. No narration, and just conversation talking to characters one and another vice versa. (Real world y'know?)

What i think is... it is STILL called a visual novel even it has no narration and just dialogues? Its a silly question i assume. (But im sure there is choices and complicated story happening to my project i think, not sure.)

I was also wondering if some games has no narration or maybe there are, in some cases... i think short novels sometimes do not have narrations at all.

Let me know your opinions and thank you for reading this. :)

Sry for bad eng.
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Re: No narration?

#2 Post by Zelan » Mon Apr 27, 2020 7:32 pm

No narration is perfectly fine for a visual novel. My first project only has dialogue. (: It's something that is quite easy to do with visual novels because they have art, so you don't need to use narration to describe things like a character or location's appearance.

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Re: No narration?

#3 Post by fleet » Mon Apr 27, 2020 10:41 pm

I'm fine with little or no narration. I prefer that the art and dialog tell the story. When necessary, in my own work, for example, I'll use a plain text slide saying something like "Two hours later" when transitioning to a different scene.
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Re: No narration?

#4 Post by lummoire » Thu Apr 30, 2020 10:53 am

TL;DR: It makes sense, it really comes down to what you need to convey or writer's preference. If it can be told through dialogue, then no narration is needed.

Long post ahead, my apologies lol.

In my years of schooling, I've had "show, don't tell!" beaten over my head like I was a drum lol.

The concept of "show, don't tell" is about illustrating without outright describing what's going on. It's the difference between:
"It started snowing outside."
"A speck of snow drifted onto the sidewalk, followed by several more flurries. The flurries were joined by more flurries, and before I knew it, the garden around me was covered in a coat of soft, white snow."
In school (at least in my classes), people prefer the latter. It creates more immersion and seems more interesting.

In visual novels, you can do without the paragraph by literally having a picture of a snowfield or something. Pictures are worth a thousand words, especially if you're gonna be seeing it for like 10 minutes while reading hundreds of words. The visuals (background depicting weather, sprites changing expressions) definitely cut down on a narrator saying "It started snowing" or "she looked mad". Usually, it's for the better, since you can focus on the dialogue and interactions between characters. You can show more of a character's dialogue instead of focusing on trying to narrate the scene.

Some people use the narration areas to put the Player Character's 1st person thoughts. (ie "I was looking down at the ground as the snow fell.") I'm neutral on it, but I don't prefer it when I write. Plenty of ways to depict whatever emotion needed to be conveyed without putting in narration or any 3rd person. (ie two characters going back and forth -- "..." "What's wrong?" "...I forgot my scarf today.") Tying back to show, don't tell, I prefer dialogue, it shows more than a narrator saying "I was sad."

Food for thought: I've also seen narration WITHIN a character's dialogue, such as a character talking about lore/history at length. (In manga, it's usually speech bubbles filled with tons of text to explain a world's feature or someone's power level or something). It's almost intelligible between an off-scene narrator and the main character being a narrator. So for some, I suppose it wouldn't matter lol, whatever gets the point across. At that point, it's a writer's preference on the style of their storytelling, and if it utilizes more of the dialogue or the narration to get their storytelling across.

Anywayyy (I apologize for the ramble lol), if it sounds natural to you, I wouldn't be afraid of it. People write differently. (I also like writing conversations, it feels more dynamic than narrations!)

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Re: No narration?

#5 Post by nangke » Thu Apr 30, 2020 4:42 pm

Look at it from the other way around: one of the ways that text-only novels make up for not having images or sound is by using narration to describe things. There's really only one book series that comes to mind as primarily dialogue-driven, and that's Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City. What it had going for it, though, is that the setting and characters (mostly young people in 70's San Francisco) were very much of the moment when it was being serialized in the newspaper that ran it, so just the barest suggestion of narration, and the reader could go from there.

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Re: No narration?

#6 Post by wolfofanarchy » Mon May 11, 2020 9:27 pm

Ugh I couldn't tell you how many visual novels I've had to put down within an hour because they went at length in narration about a picture I was looking at, and it completely broke the flow and immersion. Let's say you're introducing a character. They're wearing a red dress and have a sultry expression. You can see that. With your eyes.

And then you get forty lines about her red dress and sultry expression.

That? Don't do that. It just gets in the way.

But narrating something that can't necessarily be conveyed perfectly with images is more tasteful. For example, sprites aren't usually animated past their expressions, so typing out "He punched him, smack in the gob" with some shake effects might be easier than having to draw up (or worse, pay someone to draw up) CGs for every moment your character breaks the sprite mold.

TL;DR: I think narration definitely has a place, even if the novel is visual in nature, but if present it should supplement and complement the visuals. If the choice is between no narration or being read back in minutes everything I can see in a matter of seconds, I say no narration, all dialogue, all the way.

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Re: No narration?

#7 Post by akaPassion » Thu May 14, 2020 4:21 am

I've just finished Cardinal Cross, which is a medium length novel (~6 hours to get one ending without skipping) with a densely packed plot. It had no narration, instead there are a lot of CGs, sometimes two or three per scene, and main character sprites have a lot of nuanced expressions. Therefore I did not even notice the lack of narration until I read about that in reviews.
I think it is a good example that you can tell a complex story in a visual novel without relying on narration.

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Re: No narration?

#8 Post by hachi-mitsu » Sun May 31, 2020 9:59 pm

I think in your case, narration is probably only required when you want to express something about the character that you can't convey through dialogue alone.

I enjoy narration as a vessel into a character's true intentions and intuitions. Like, if you want to convey their perceptiveness or a hidden intelligence they have. But you certainly don't need an overabundance of narration, even though this medium is called a visual novel..

But the previous replies also put it best, though they are novels, they are visual, so it's okay to relax on the paragraphs of narration and stick to dialogue. It also flows better in a lot of cases. I think it's easier to say that you should probably use narration for; moments of introspection (to slow down the pace and maybe explore what the character is thinking), describing atmosphere in a way visuals cannot (scent, vibes, even sounds to some extent), and to convey a character's personality/motivation/etc as a supplement to the dialogue they speak. At least that's how I go about it.

Hope that's helpful in some way. Sorry if my English is convoluted. :P

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Re: No narration?

#9 Post by gas » Mon Jun 01, 2020 7:54 pm

Look at my avatar...
You know that game?
Not even a single line of narration.
Worldwide success.
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