A VN with only two characters

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A VN with only two characters

#1 Post by MisterHarold » Mon Jul 13, 2020 11:23 pm

Will it work? Most successful Visual Novels contain a wide variety of colorful characters, and the characters are their strong point. With only two characters, how can I make it work?

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Re: A VN with only two characters

#2 Post by timepatches » Tue Jul 14, 2020 7:25 am

I've done it *shrug*
It is tricky, especially in a longer script, but I actually prefer to write with small casts, pairs included - it's easier to have very distinct, well-developed characters, in no small part because it allows you to make foils out of all their traits and how they relate to each other without having to worry about how those traits map to a lot of others.
In a longer script you're gonna face a lot of challenges in the writing (can't depend on a lot of stock VN plot tropes than only work with a wide cast) but it's worth it in terms of art asset costs, at least? lol
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Re: A VN with only two characters

#3 Post by Mutive » Tue Jul 14, 2020 9:58 am

Well..."Analogue: A Hate Story" made it work (and arguably could have worked - just not as well - with one character).

So yes, it's completely possible.
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Re: A VN with only two characters

#4 Post by parttimestorier » Tue Jul 14, 2020 11:13 am

The first visual novel I ever wrote has only two characters too, and in my experience, starting with something minimal like that was a great way to begin getting involved in VN development. If you want to write a short story on a scale that's manageable to develop into your first game, I think writing about two interesting characters meeting each other for the first time is one of the easiest ways to approach that. (I actually wrote a bit more about that in Sasquatchii's VN Zine if you're interested.)

Another one that comes to mind is Dejection: An Ode by ebi-hime, which focuses on the issues of a friendship between two people. It's also one of her earlier ones, and she's gone on to write a lot more complex stuff, but I think it's really well-written and it was part of what inspired me to get into more VNs. If you look around itch.io, especially at stuff people submit to game jams, you could probably find a lot more.

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Re: A VN with only two characters

#5 Post by violettex » Tue Jan 05, 2021 3:45 pm


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Re: A VN with only two characters

#6 Post by Rikkertje-Dap » Tue Jan 26, 2021 6:49 am

I'm not very experienced in writing visual novels with only two characters, but I do have experience writing dialogues for only two characters.
When I'm writing dialogue, I tend to rely on some tricks from improvisational theater.

Start with one character, decide on the "Who", "Where", "What", "When" and "Why" and make him say something.
Then think of who the other person may be. How does the second character respond to the line you just came up with while keeping the 5 W's in mind?

Then let the story play out between the two of them! Have fun with it!
Whenever the story gets stale: think of an impulse that could change the whole direction of the dialogue.
For example: if the characters get into an argument, and the argument drags on too long, just make one character fart accidentally

As to who the characters may be: it does not matter!
But make them interesting, make them opposites of each other. Decide on hierarchy between the two of them and give them a purpose.

You'd be surprised how fast you can churn out a first draft with techniques like these :)

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Re: A VN with only two characters

#7 Post by droo_radley » Sun Jan 31, 2021 11:29 pm

If you look at movies as a reference, there are many stories where it was virtually two people talking for 90 mins. Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise / Before Sunset (and more) series focuses on just two characters chit-chatting. Kevin Smith's Clerks was almost just Dante and Randal talking for 90s mins (though customers and side characters make single scene entrances).

It's not just strength of character that will prevail here: You need to have those two personalities conflict over something. The choice of conversation topics MUST trigger conflict, and must represent some kind of deeper meaning when it comes to the story.

For example, in my VN Gloom and Doom, the two main characters are discussing the Britney and Christina rivalry from the late 90s. That is engineered to trigger a discussion about legacy, and the two characters want to be remembered or left out of history.

Every conversation will have to build character or story somehow... it's pretty easy to accidentally slip into writing random catch-phrases, so keep on-track by noting down exactly what each scene and conversation is building.

Hope this helps!
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Re: A VN with only two characters

#8 Post by Kokoro Hane » Mon Mar 29, 2021 1:21 pm

Writing with only two characters I feel indeed can work, and it's also much easier to work with! You can really explore both characters in depth and how they interact with each other. It's also a great starting point. One of the VNs I am most fond of making, 30 Kilowatt Hours Left only star 2 characters. If you get a good plot going, it can be quite engaging. Like in that example, the two characters have found themselves on a radio frequency, but the MC only has a limited charge each day. I've also made a couple more stories with only 2 characters as well, and I have plans for other projects with only 2 characters.

I also think longer entries definitely can be engaging with only two. Watercress' Palinurus I think is a fairly good example. It's not a super long read, but it is fairly long, and very engaging and full of emotions. And it's also Kinetic, so there isn't even any choices, yet this does not hinder the game at all.

Depending on the story you are trying to tell, having 2 characters only (or just focusing mostly on 2 characters) can be very engaging, and also, very rewarding to write. Working with small casts also is a lot less stress dev-wise.
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Re: A VN with only two characters

#9 Post by elixxxirium » Fri May 07, 2021 12:47 am

A VN with only two leads can be an intense and thrilling story if you know what you're doing. I really recommend watching The Lighthouse starring Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe, it's a masterclass on a two character only story.

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