Storyline development: what is your workflow?

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Storyline development: what is your workflow?

#1 Post by this_barb » Mon Aug 24, 2009 9:41 pm

Considering I've never written fiction in my life, nor have I ever written a VN before, I've been trying to figure out a good way to write a multifaceted storyline. I'm thinking there might be a better way to do this than what I'm currently employing.

From initial idea to fully developed storyline: what are you steps?

Mine are:

1. I started with an initial idea of the universe my storyline would take place in. At this point, I had no idea of an actual storyline. I just asked myself "what if" scenarios. For example, "what if aliens had come to earth and learned to peacefully coexist with them"?

2. I tried to settle on a theme. I tried to make it one word but it ended up being a couple sentences.

3. I decided what the scope of my story should be (ex: save the world, save the city, save my girlfriend).

4. I tried to describe what I wanted to accomplish in each of my 3 alternate routes with one sentence each.

5. I then tried to describe each alternate route in terms of story arcs. Right now, I have 2-3 sentences per route, where each sentence is an arc.

6. Then, because my storyline would be broken into days, I tried to figure out what I wanted to occur on each day. Characters are still just amorphous blobs named "PC," "NPC Girl 1," "NPC Girl 2," etc.

7. After the "major event" of each day is hammered out, I try to break it down even further and determine what the daily problems (mini-arcs) should be. Since there is a bit of slice-of-life content in my story, I had to invent some rather mundane events.

This is where I am currently at. I have learned several things and hit many roadblocks, as well. I noticed my amorphous blob characters developed a sense of personality while I jotted down the mini-arcs for step 7, even when I didn't want them to. For example, one of the male NPCs in my storyline ended up being some kind of anime otaku even when I initially didn't plan him as one. Anyway, step 7 has caused me to see errors, loopholes, impossibilities, and irrationalities in my storyline, so I have been forced to go through step 1 - 6 numerous times. This makes me believe there has to be a better way to do this. What I've been doing up to now is trial and error. I change one aspect of the storyline, and recursively go through the steps to determine if its something that's "likely" to happen in the story.

Assuming I ever get passed this phase:

8. I assume this might be the final step where I break down each "mini-arc" description and dialog.

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Re: Storyline development: what is your workflow?

#2 Post by Samu-kun » Mon Aug 24, 2009 9:48 pm

The general outline is good, but you're missing a couple of things.

Between steps 3 and 4, you need to flesh out all of your characters. Try writing eight sentences about them and then expand each of those sentences into paragraphs.

Step 4, you should change it to "What does your character want to achieve" instead. Write what drives each of the protagonists forward.

Making a story with generic character blobs generally isn't a good thing. You need to at least have a sense of what they're about before you start writing about them.

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Re: Storyline development: what is your workflow?

#3 Post by Koveras » Tue Aug 25, 2009 6:01 pm

I've never actually wrote anything longer than a short story so my recommendations may not be of much use but...

When I write a short story, it usually starts with an idea for the plot. I don't write it down immediately, I let myself forget it. If I come up with it at a later point and consider it good again, I memorize the idea. This way I make sure it is worth writing about. Then I brainstorm the story for a few days in my head, without actually writing anything, until I have a pretty clear idea what exactly I'm going to write. Then I just sit down whenever I have 4-5 hours of free time and type it down, clarifying and correcting myself as I go. No new ideas come into the story at this stage, because I've already finished brainstorming it.

Currently, though, I'm working on my first longer novel and it requires a extensive back-story (at the moment, I'm at 56 pages and I only covered the European and Mediterranean history until the fall of the Western Roman Empire; I also have some bits on the Enlightenment, Islam, and Ancient China but there's still a way to go), so I'm doing primarily that. I do have several ideas for the actual plot but like with my short stories, I'm in the brainstorming phase now: whenever I have a seemingly good idea for a scene, I write it down (due to the size of the work I can no longer rely exclusively on my memory) and try to fit it in among the older ones. In other words, I prefer the top-down evolutionary approach: I set myself a beginning and a goal and let sudden random surges of creativity create a patchwork of ideas and scenes that I'd later sew together into my final narrative. ^^

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Re: Storyline development: what is your workflow?

#4 Post by ninjagrass » Thu Aug 27, 2009 3:36 pm

Well I just make up as I go along then edit back to add more detail. Can't put it in any more simpler terms.

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Re: Storyline development: what is your workflow?

#5 Post by Efreet » Thu Aug 27, 2009 4:00 pm

One thing that I always remember are Stephen King's way:

"King believes that, generally speaking, good stories cannot be called consciously and should not be plotted out beforehand; they are better served by focusing on a single "seed" of a story and letting the story grow itself." from Wiki.

Though I can't say this has worked entirely for me, it helps you focus on characterisation rather than worrying about the plot.

Or another thing is, what is your or your characters goal?

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Re: Storyline development: what is your workflow?

#6 Post by zett » Thu Aug 27, 2009 7:10 pm

I don't know if this is much of a workflow ..

but I write as I daydream =w= It doesn't matter how crude / vague or filled with grammar errors ..
I just write what I think.

When I feel I finished the story .. I'll run through it about 10 times I guess, and polish it to be a good one

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