advice about synopsis and history

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guzy
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advice about synopsis and history

#1 Post by guzy » Sun Jul 17, 2016 8:30 pm

Hey guys, so

I've been writing a visual novel and I'm pretty confident with my work and my history. The thing is, I can't think about a way to introduce people to my history. Every time I try, I fail. No matter what, always sounds stupid.

Do you guys have some tips or tricks about write good introductions, so good that people get interested?


Talking about my history, is a romcom, starts with comedy and turns into drama. I would like to say that I dont intend to use comedy as a device to hide poor writing.

So, a angel came from the sky and give a mission to the MC: to save the world. What he needs to do? Take his classmate Anna virginity. The problem? There's 2 Anna in his classroom.

That's the premise, but I need to be sincere here, I wouldn't get interested in this history... When I showed the full plot to some friends, they said that they liked, but the introduction was awfull...

about the plot
The first Anna is a childhood friend, but your bestfriend have been in love for her for years. So you need to make a decision, you support your friend or you betray him and took his almost girlfriend.
To date anna you'll need to sabotage their relationship without get caugh in the process. In other words, be a asshole. This part of the history is about friendship and betrayal. Is very branch-oriented and you can regret your attitudes and change your actions.

The other Anna is a delinquent. Is said that she's a bitch and looks like she started to date a guy that you hate. In the beginning this Anna will look like a unreachable person, but thanks to the literature teacher (that is also a important character) you'll have plenty opportunities to talk to anna, know more about her life and became friends with her. She's more like a tomboy and don't really care about what other people think about her. She has some dark secrets (like work as a maid in a café) and money problems that is the key of her history.

The 2 histories will merge in some part of the game and based on your choices you'll have one of the 3 endings.

So, I showed my work to some people and I had some good feedback, but they all said that my introduction to the history was so poor... I have to agree with then and thats the reason I came here for some help.

Can you guys give me some advice about that? And feel free to talk about the plot. I love feedback, even harsh words.

(sorry for the bad english, is not my mother language)

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Re: advice about synopsis and history

#2 Post by RotGtIE » Mon Jul 18, 2016 12:17 am

I will tell you right off the bat that a large part of the problem lies with your use of language. I'm not completely sure about this, but I suspect based on your grammar and vocabulary that you are either a non-native speaker of English or that you are young and don't have access to significant sources of negative feedback. You have a way of structuring your sentences - or, to be more specific, not structuring them - in what seems to mimic the exact chronological order of your thought process. Your clauses tend not to lead smoothly into or relate properly to each other and you appear to be using punctuation based on your rate of spoken delivery rather than the most sensible way to write so that others can smoothly read and diagram your sentences. The result is somewhat of a rambling arrangement of words which are more difficult to read than they have to be, and that will tend to cause readers to give up before they even get to determining whether they are interested in the content beyond the merely technical difficulties in your writing.

As for the content, I think the thing you are looking for is a hook, and what you are trying to describe is not the "history," but rather the "premise" or the "synopsis" of your story. Your premise is that a student has been issued a world-saving mission to take the virginity of a fellow student who has not been sufficiently identified by the messenger who has delivered this mission to him. Now, as far as hooks go, that's in the realm of "typical porn plot," which is good enough to get a ball rolling, but perhaps not enough on its own to break through the incredulity of your audience and really reel them in to being invested in the outcome of your story.

Physically, a hook has two components, the nature of which serve to make the metaphor work very well. The first component shoots straight out as far as it can reach in order to get to the prey that it is intended to snag. This is the part of your hook where you must reach the audience in their own world well enough to make your premise relatable to them. If they have to stretch their imagination too far to even come close to grasping the main draw of your story, you won't have a chance to catch and hold onto their interest in the first place. In this case, the closest thing you have to reaching the audience is the imposition of a high-pressure task on an unwilling recipient - this is especially true if he is required to betray a close friend in order to rescue his world from whatever destruction his negligence in accomplishing this task would bring upon it. Since the role of a protagonist is to give the audience someone to relate to in a story which would otherwise be difficult to understand, this is probably your best bet for establishing some rapport with your audience at the critical stage of making your initial pitch.

The second component is the curved and pointed tip of the hook which serves to catch and pull the audience in once they've engaged with the more relatable elements of the premise. This is the part where you provide the audience with an alternation of answers to their questions and additional events which provoke their curiosities even further. Developing empathy as a skill will help you greatly in this, as you must be able to jump into the mind of a potential reader to determine what they might possibly find curious about the information you've presented to them. In the case of your premise, I first question what event could possibly be world-threatening and also could only be averted by one student taking another to bed. I also wonder what kind of character could possibly be entrusted with such an important mission as the delivery of this message while failing to be specific enough to ensure or at least raise the probability of success beyond an initial 50/50 mistake. You can use curiosities such as these to draw your audience in looking for answers, but be aware that curiosity is a very frustrating thing for a reader to have to maintain for an extended period of time, so you will be best served by delivering timely answers to the reader's most probable questions while presenting them with more information to think about in the answers you give.

One last issue I see is that you've decided ahead of time what the characters of the heroines are going to be and how their stories will unfold, and while this is not inherently a problem in and of itself, it does jump ahead to a point beyond where the readers have even developed enough of an interest to want to know about them yet. The premise is often called the "hook" because it is a pull economy of delivering information to the reader, not a push economy. If your reader is not sufficiently primed and hungry for information, they will resist replacing things like their email passwords or their mothers' birthdays with the plot to your story in what limited brainspace they have. Generating interest is how you counter that resistance, and you have a limited window in which to accomplish that. Make your pitch with sufficient brevity that it can be outlasted by the gnat-like attention span of even the worst members of your target audience, and within that space, do what you can to make your hook as relatable as necessary while also presenting your readers with a reason to be curious and seek more information about your story. If you can get that accomplished in a single sentence, you'll be off to a good start with your audience. Just don't drop the ball after that point, because readers don't forgive easily if you betray their expectations and waste their time.

Work on the fundamental technical aspects of writing until you can avoid being mistaken for a non-native speaker or a teenager, and when you get to a point of sufficient fluency, come back to your story and find a way to compress it down to a solid hook that will pull in the attention of at least your target audience. After that, you've got a long road of writing the actual story ahead of you. That is a different matter, and likely beyond the scope of this thread, so I'll stop here and wish you the best of luck.

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Re: advice about synopsis and history

#3 Post by guzy » Mon Jul 18, 2016 1:25 am

RotGtIE wrote:.
First of all, thanks, but next time please read the message til the end, man, I said english is not my main language. I'm really not fluent at all, I did understand everything you said on your post, but form my own sentences is kind of hard, I keep forming sentences with my mother language grammar and this causes a great mess... If you speak more than one language then I think that you know that stage when is easy to understand but almost impossible to speak :(

I almost cried seeing how bad my english is, but let's move forward. I'm a teacher, so you're not dealing with a child (but with a lazy person who wants to speak a language and don't properly study).

Man, after read and re-read what you wrote, my problem became really clear: the chronology. I'm telling the history in the wrong order.

So, tell me what you think of this aproach:

First I introduce the characters, something like: Hey, I'm Judas, thats my bestfriend Jesus and my childhood friend Maria. Jesus loves Maria, but that's a secret, keep quiet about it! And That's Herodes the guy that I hate and his girlfriend that nobody likes, also Maria.

So, that's the bait i put in my hook, a history about schoolife, friendship, rivals, a perfect slice of life... easy to relate and understand...

Then I come with the angel thing, a divine mission, I need to take Maria's virginity in order to save the world! Which Maria? I'll have to betray my friend? I'll have to win the dark Maria's love? And here I draw the people attention showing what kind of trial the MC will face in order to accomplish this task.

Of course this is just a sketch using the hook idea. And I have to say, that is a awesome method! Thanks for share. I'll try to improve the premise following this direction. If you could give another feedback I would be glad. Your opinion is always welcome!

And just for you to know, I'll not write that history in english. I'm just a writer, we'll have a translator, then a proofreader. It's a small team, but we willing to deliver a good game. Thanks again for your help!

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Re: advice about synopsis and history

#4 Post by RotGtIE » Mon Jul 18, 2016 6:47 am

Rick-and-Morty-970x545.jpg
So six paragraphs later I've completed the process of smearing egg all over my face and I don't even know it yet. And not your garden variety chicken crap, either. More like schmeglorpian wiggler egg. You know what those do? They don't even have hard shells, Morty. It takes three weeks to get all the crud out of your pores, which you're in a hurry to get done on account of their incredibly deadly toxicity to human life. It's bad stuff, Morty. Stay away from Schmeglorp if you like not dying an agonizingly long and painful death.

Look, what I'm trying to say is that you should stick to what you're good at. For some people, that's putting a bunch of words in a box on someone's website and not making yourself look like you need to put on a helmet before you go outside. And then there's the rest of us who are pretty much taxed to the brink of our mental capacity from working out which of our orifices are for nutritional intake and which ones are for doing other stuff. Life is mostly about guessing which one of those categories you're in and going with the game plan. Until it doesn't work out, and then you're back to the orifices.

You know what? Just forget the whole thing. Don't tell your parents I said any of that to you, okay? It's just another eight seconds of pretending to listen to their opinions that I don't need in my life.

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Re: advice about synopsis and history

#5 Post by guzy » Mon Jul 18, 2016 9:28 am

what was that?

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Re: advice about synopsis and history

#6 Post by Kuiper » Tue Jul 19, 2016 5:41 pm

guzy wrote:First I introduce the characters, something like: Hey, I'm Judas, thats my bestfriend Jesus and my childhood friend Maria. Jesus loves Maria, but that's a secret, keep quiet about it! And That's Herodes the guy that I hate and his girlfriend that nobody likes, also Maria.
This sounds a lot like what we commonly call an "infodump." It's a very thinly-veiled way of saying, "Hey guys, here's a list of things that you need to know before we get into the meat of this story," and when done poorly, it's boring. And worse still, if the audience finds your opening info-dump boring, they won't remember any of it. Jesus? Maria? Herodes? I'm on page 1 and I don't care about any of these characters, so nothing that you tell me about these characters is going to stick, unless you make it memorable in some way. And there's nothing in your lore bible that is "inherently" interesting. You have to make it interesting.

How do you make it interesting? A lot of it comes down to effective use of viewpoint and description.

Take, for example, the opening of Andy Weir's "The Martian." It's supposed to introduce us to our scenario. We need to know who our main character is, what the setting of the story is, and what the main conflict of the story is. So, what's our opening line to introduce us to all of this?
I’m pretty much fucked.
That’s my considered opinion.
Fucked.
This conveys very little information. It doesn't tell any factual information about the main character, or where he is, or what kind of conflict he's in. We know that he's in a bad spot, but truthfully, "I'm pretty much fucked" could mean any number of things. It could mean that he's a college student who's about to take an exam he didn't prepare for. It could mean that he's a corrupt politician about to be exposed in a big scandal. It could mean that he's a soldier, hunkered down in a trench while watching mortars coming down around him. This opening gives us more questions than answers.

But it does introduce us to our viewpoint character. We don't know what his occupation is, and we don't know where (or when) he is. Heck, we don't even know if our viewpoint character is a "he" at this point. But we do know that our viewpoint character is in a state of distress. And there's something very compelling about this. So we keep reading:
Six days into what should be the greatest two months of my life, and it’s turned into a nightmare.
I don’t even know who’ll read this. I guess someone will find it eventually. Maybe a hundred years from now.
For the record . . . I didn’t die on Sol 6. Certainly the rest of the crew thought I did, and I can’t blame them. Maybe there’ll be a day of national mourning for me, and my Wikipedia page will say, “Mark Watney is the only human being to have died on Mars.”
And it’ll be right, probably. ’Cause I’ll surely die here. Just not on Sol 6 when everyone thinks I did.
So now, we know who our protagonist is (an astronaut named Mark Watney), we know where he is (Mars), we know what the immediate conflict is (he's going to die soon), and we also know one of the other aspects of the main conflict (everyone thinks he's already dead).

The job of a writer is to take this bullet-point list of facts, and convey them in a way that makes them interesting and memorable (and perhaps most important of all, enjoyable to read about). The truth is, in a vacuum, nobody cares about the "history" of your world. You have to make them care. If you were to go back in time and ask me, "Hey, do you want to hear the story of Mark Watney?" my answer would be "no." But after reading the first page of The Martian, I was drawn into the story and wanted to learn more about the story of Mark Watney, largely because the opening used viewpoint in a way that drew me into the story, and also because the opening was enjoyable to read (which is often an indicator that the rest of the story will be enjoyable as well). If I find myself getting bored on page 1, I'm not going to stick around until page 50 to see if things get more interesting.

Note that in The Martian, there's a lot more information that's needed to understand the story. You will eventually learn about the rest of Watney's crewmates, the folks down on Earth that are supporting the Mars mission, the subjects that he studied in college, and a lot of scientific facts about botany and engineering. We learn about different chemical reactions involving hydrazine, and also find out several previous Mars missions prior to Mark Watney's. These are all necessary to understand the events of the story at later points, and they're all explained eventually. If the story started by dumping all of these facts on us, that would just leave us confused (and probably bored) about how any of these facts are going to be relevant to the story. Instead, we focus on what matters to our protagonist right now. The other information will come up when it's needed.

In the intro, I just want to know who our main character is, what the main conflict is, maybe a little bit of information about the setting, and also be given a reason to care about the story. (Many stories achieve this by presenting a strong viewpoint or character voice that makes you care about the main character, completely irrespective of any of the story's stakes, though that of course can help.) Taking a lot of time to tell me about a character who isn't going to be a significant part of the story until chapter 5 probably isn't going to do you much good, because if I'm not given a reason to care about them immediately, then I'm probably going to forget everything you told me by the time chapter 5 comes around.
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Re: advice about synopsis and history

#7 Post by guzy » Tue Jul 19, 2016 6:11 pm

Man, reading what you posted I think that now I really understand why my introductions were so bad, actually, to tell you the truth, that also explains why most of the introductions are so boring to read

thanks for the tip

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