Transitioning from novel writing to vn writing?

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CathyR
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Transitioning from novel writing to vn writing?

#1 Post by CathyR » Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:52 pm

Hello all!

I just have a quick question. I've spent about seven years writing novels and choose-your-adventure type stories in a novel format for friends, and I've wanted to turn these choose-your-adventure stories into real vn's. However, I'm finding it hard to transition from novel writing to script writing. I've tried looking at how other writers do it by examining other vn's since I learn best visually. However, my script writing is still somewhat mediocre compared to my prose. Is there a better way to adjust to script writing? Or is this just a case of practice makes perfect?

Thanks in advance for your help!

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Re: Transitioning from novel writing to vn writing?

#2 Post by Winston_Nguyen » Sat Jul 15, 2017 5:40 am

VN storytelling is very different to screenwriting and other media. There aren't any good books on how to write a VN so the best way to learn is by making your own whilst playing other VNs to see how they handle the storytelling. The things you have to consider are:

-The arrangement of text: deciding whether to use NVL or ADV style, knowing when to end a line, knowing when to include pauses during the text, deciding on whether to use a typewriter effect or have the text appear all at once, formatting etc. Route 59 has some useful info on writing text and budget.

-Visuals: Arrangement of sprites and backgrounds - deciding how far to distance characters from each other, how closely zoomed in each character are and camera movement (cinematography).

-Visual effects and transitions (fade in/out, side transitions, earthquake effects, flashes etc.).

-Music/sound effects (deciding how and when the music enters)

I also learnt some pretty useful visual storytelling techniques from books such as 'understanding comics' by Scott McCloud and 'Comics and Sequential Art' by Will Eisner.
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Re: Transitioning from novel writing to vn writing?

#3 Post by Scribbles » Sat Jul 15, 2017 8:48 am

One thing to consider is that a lot of the description work is taken care of by the visuals. No need to describe a character or place if the player can see it on screen. Also try to focus in on dialog and examine game mechanics as well as writing while playing other VNs

I'm right there with you! I've been writing prose forever and now I'm tackling VNs lol it's definitely different, and takes some getting used to. Try making a small free game first with CC0 assets and getting feedback on the basic gameplay and story flow, that'll help too :)
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Re: Transitioning from novel writing to vn writing?

#4 Post by Mammon » Sat Jul 15, 2017 10:01 am

Like said before, art does make some descriptions that are required in prose redundant. You don't have to describe the character's face because the reader will already see it, and doing so anyway as if you're writing prose can feel like you're hitting the reader over the head with it.

Emotions can also be more nuanced in VNs because they don't need to be within the text but can be in the player's peripheral the entire time. Whether people will actually see this is immediately a lot harder though, because plenty of people don't actually look at the changing perplexions during the reading. The side image is a concession solution to this because the changes here are much more likely to be noticed than in regular sprites: It's on the bottom left so the reader's eyes will go there automatically with every new line. This does however require you to implement side-images meaning it's not a solution you can only use at a few moments but have to implement in the entire game.

That people see the character sprite, even if they only study it closer once at the first appearance, is a huge advantage though. A character in prose requires to be built by their actions or description, a good sprite can be worth a thousand words by making this impression instantly. A character that looks awesome or devious can immediately be considered such faster by the audience rather than that you have to outright tell them what kind of character it is, or by having to spend a few chapters developing this character with more nuance. It does, of course, require you to have good characters that properly display what you want, whether your sprite's quality and impression lends itself for that is a whole nother story.
A second advantage of sprites that doesn't require the sprite to be amazing is memorability. A name that was mentioned once a few chapters ago will probably not be remembered in prose or will meld together with other non-memorable names, a sprite that appeared just for a moment or two will be remembered however (depending on the amount of characters with a sprite). Also, a character with a sprite is usually also a significant hint that the character is relevant to the plot in most games, because irrelevant characters tend to be incorporeal or a blacked out sillhouette.

Last thing that I would like to point your attention to in VN writing: Short paragraphs. The paragraph will (in ADV) have to be about 2.5 lines long at most (Word, calibri 12). If that's not the case, your text box will expand. Split the paragraphs up in these short bursts while writing the first draft if possible, easier to learn right away than to do it later. Maybe test it out yourself to see what I mean by putting some mock-lines in code.
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Re: Transitioning from novel writing to vn writing?

#5 Post by CathyR » Sat Jul 15, 2017 7:44 pm

Wow, thank you for all the advice guys! I'll defiantly try studying other people's vn's and working on some practice scripts. I've played vn's for years now, but I don't think I've ever really paid attention to how their written or formatted much, so I'm sure that'll help a little.

Anyways, thanks again for helping this newbie out!

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Re: Transitioning from novel writing to vn writing?

#6 Post by arisan » Sun Jul 16, 2017 8:56 pm

I'm currently making the rather jarring transition from traditional prose to writing a script for a mobile VN. I've only managed to get through a few scenes that I'd call close to satisfactory, but what I find works for me, in fact, is trying to use standards of poetry (though this might be because I have limited experience with scriptwriting).

In the context of a mobile game script, with limited space per line and the expectation that readers/players will be taking the game in shorter bursts, it helps to strive for the same compression that poetry demands. Ideally, each line should advance something in both narrative and thematic senses and one ends up relying a lot more on implication or suggestion than would normally be the case. There's also little space to dwell on detailing, which is an often-used technique for simulating realism (but is also partly addressed by visual/audio assets) so in this sense, one tries to set scenes with overarching impressions, instead. But again, as poetry shows, sometimes a well-timed and well-used image can serve much better.

Clearly, this is something I'm still figuring out. Perhaps it's simply that I write better scenes when I shift my mindset a bit toward poetry. In any case, perhaps you'll get some mileage out of it, too.
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Re: Transitioning from novel writing to vn writing?

#7 Post by barefootchuck39 » Tue Aug 01, 2017 1:05 pm

Recently being playing a lot of ToBerseria, and so their skits kinda stuck with me. Why not do something like that? Exaggerated character movement with manga like background. Sure to get attention. Will be boring fast though if its not voiced.

Or emphasis texbox by moving sprite a bit closer to the audience? Like in Child of Light.

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Re: Transitioning from novel writing to vn writing?

#8 Post by Mutive » Tue Nov 21, 2017 12:50 pm

One thing I'd recommend as far as learning to write for VNs go is to program a bit. Not necessarily a lot but...even a little will give you a great idea as to what you can do in a visual novel that you *can't* even in a choose your own adventure novel.

(One example that comes to mind is a counter. For instance, you could have an "anger counter" that adds an additional anger point to a character every time you do something to irritate that character. This code is *super* easy in Python, and can be used to add mechanics like, oh, say, after you've pulled that school girl's braid one too many times, she wacks you with a slate or whatever. Just knowing that you can do some of this stuff DRAMATICALLY opens up the possibilities you can write into your novel and makes it, in my mind, far more fluid and realistic seeming!)
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