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things you should and shouldn't do when writing stories

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#21 Fiddler   Members   -  Reputation: 856

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Posted 21 May 2006 - 02:29 AM

As a side note, I would strongly advise reading 'The complete villain's handbook' (a D&D guide on creating interesting and beleivable villains. Try getting your hands on the second edition, newer ones may -or may not- be dumbed down).

I am not a writer myself, but as an avid reader and role-player I am amazed at how many (mostly fantasy and SF) writers regurgitate the same old plotlines and villains. Damn, but many adolescent rpg game-masters write better plots!

Just read this book, it contains some very good material.

@sunandshadow: Nice link!

Sponsor:

#22 kourosh   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 30 May 2006 - 10:45 AM

Here's what I do:

1. Create characters. You should know your characters as well as you know yourself, maybe better. Know their relationships with each other. Know how they talk, their personality, even small things such as what their favourite colour is. The personality of the characters and their feelings should also be made known to the player (unless you are deliberately distancing the player from the characters for symbolic purposes).

2. Create a setting. Once again, know it fully.

3. Throw the characters into the setting, and create an imbalance. That will get the story moving. The rest of the story can be worked out from "What would Daryavush do next" or "What would Cyra say next" sort of questions. Do not make the characters do things against their nature for the sake of storyline, unless the player is distanced from the characters A LOT

4. Ask yourself this: Why are you telling the story? Is it to raise awareness about some social or polital issue? Or is simply to shock the ppl, or make them laugh etc? Make sure that whatever it is, it actually happens!

#23 GBPaxton   Members   -  Reputation: 140

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Posted 12 July 2006 - 09:54 AM

http://project-apollo.net/text/rpg.html

^ grand list of console RPG cliches.

There is much to learn there. =P

#24 BloodWarrior   Members   -  Reputation: 164

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Posted 16 August 2006 - 04:10 AM

hm... my turn my turn!!!

I have written a few stories and I tend to agree with some posts: The Character (characters) are the heart and soul of the story and mostly they are created before the story.

I have read a few books where the characters die and are replaced... its really not the same thing. If you find the hero an incredible guy and suddenly he dies and gets replaced... it feels wrong! you end up hating the new hero.

Also I tend to plot stories always for the same character (the BloodWarrior who has been with me for over 15 years). However BW always changes personalities which make it interesting. Sometimes a paladin, sometimes a thief, sometimes just in the wrong place (having the main character just tagging along makes for a completly diferent story). Mind you when he changes personalities I dont mean he changes motivations, just imagine the same person with the same tastes and believes but raised diferently. In the end of the story they tend to grow into the same character as all the other stories but each with a new character trait which compounds as the stories evolve.

Usually you always find good vs evil in most stories but I find that boring now. When BW comes into an adventure he doesnt really have a goal, he tends to do whatever he has to do and often it looks good but its an horrible deed. There are morals in it but not always good vs evil. I think this is integral for a good story line. For example I never considered Bilbo Baggins or Even Frodo or Samwise good... they arent doing it for the good of the people, they went all the way to Mount Doom because nobody else would take their burden and staying with it meant getting wiped out by Sauron. How many times does Frodo try to get rid of the ring.

Also i think stories should be mature. i can't stand happy because its all pink. If you the hero messes up he should pay for it dearly, he might not care but the price is there: for example getting the magic sword even though he has to kill the beautiful Unicorn guarding it... then draw huge repercursions like the sword held back some greater evil which is now loose, add a second character determined to return the sword and make the hero reluctante to give it up. There is Good and Evil but the "noble hero" just wants the fancy sword!

Last I dont think the story should relate directly to combat systems in a game. In a story you cant afford to have the hero quaffing potions every hit nor spending all of his money on a new armor and then getting it back by harvesting thousands of innocent bunny pelts. There should be similarities (make a trademark move of the hero available, allow the hero only to cast magics available in the game) but dont limit the characters to fully obeying the game mechanics.
Mind you I once tried writing an adventure fully in DnD, whenever the hero encountered a monster he actually found it (i rolled and then wrote the the description). It makes for an interesting reading since you have to stop once in a while to heal and recover.

Last thing I always like in stories... make economics something feasible. In lord of the rings there is never a mention of money (seriously at least). In a real story the hero should have these kinds of predicaments which can actually improve it (Raistlin posing as a magician to get money for food and then later Caramon showing his strength and the barmaid (keily? k something I think.. damn!) dancing for it.
Money is a very strong motivation and should make quite a story (A bard's tale is a pretty good example of what happens when you think in gold coins instead of good and bad deeds).

Finally... please, no more stupid villains. If they are the all might bad guy make them at least smart enough not mess about. I tire easilly of the idiots that lock the hero in the deepest dungeon that conveniently is rigged full of secret passages which he will accidently discover.

As for spellchecking... well a good spellcheck will help but its only second class to proof reading. Some of you where wondering about writing together with a friend... Its better to write alone but have a friend constantly proof read and give critical input as you add chapters.

If I may, a small plug which the moderator is free to remove.
I am in the process of recreating my website and I have finished recently a section of it where you can read stories written by other users. Users can log on to manage and add their own stories. In fact its all done online (which I designed thinking about those dead moments where you are too bored to do proper work and decide to take a look at the internet).
Currently the website is hosted on my own second computer but for some reason that think is turning off after a day or two so its not yet stable. If you would like to register for story writing feel free. My website is on my profile.

#25 Kuhsum   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 08 December 2006 - 05:38 AM

Thanks a lot for the info I am writeing a story right now

#26 siferion   Members   -  Reputation: 126

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Posted 06 January 2007 - 01:50 AM

I'm working on the story to an RPG i'm creating right now. Keeping notes next to the story to tie the game's engine into the story, building a list of features i will need.

Best advice i can give to writing the story:
1) First think of the general theme of your game, the overall story in a sentence.
2) Expand this to a paragraph, then add another explaining parts of it until you have a short outline with each paragraph being a chapter, can always add more later if it becomes needed.
3) Draw a timeline of events in the story, this'll help keep track of time in the story, can be at any scale you need.

This is what i've been doing and it's kept me an track and gave me a foundation to build upon before i really started to write the story.

#27 Writers Block   Members   -  Reputation: 135

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Posted 12 February 2007 - 09:25 PM

I am not going to state what my writing experience is, without proof it is pointless.

However, I do have some.:)

Good advice from FridgeRaider.

I would add a couple of caveats:

1. Ignore "Do's and Don'ts" if you find what you are writing feels right, Keep trying.

2. Their are rules to follow when writing anything, it's a good idea to learn them.

3. It's also a good idea to know when to ignore them effectively.

4. Know the medium you are writing for. Whilst it may not be absolutely essential you really enjoy that medium/style, it will affect what you produce and your 'voice' may show the reader your feelings. This would be bad.:) (probably). So like a little at least.:D

5. Writing is a skill, it's part science, part art. Practice constantly and read lots, read a lot of what you do like to write. But also read different types of literature, both 'high' and 'low'.

Finally (yes, I know there are more than two) have fun. If it isn't fun to write, how can it be fun to read? In the literal sense as in reading a story, or in the conversion to another medium.

There is one more point I am going to make and for the writer, it's the hardest to learn, and it is here where a second opinion can help.
Learn to be critical about what you have written. If it is rubish, accept it, move on. Start Again!

Writer's Block

#28 dwmitch   Members   -  Reputation: 143

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Posted 29 March 2007 - 09:36 AM

I don't know if this would be a writing issue or a design issue, but whenever you have something that's part of the story (even if it's just a brief story about a unit's weapon in an RTS), make the design follow the story.

As an example I'll use Red Alert 2's chrono leggionaire. His weapon supposedly erases units and structures from time, as if it never existed.

Doing such should have had other consequences, other than destroying a structure/unit.

For example, if it never existed money wouldn't have been spent on it, so it should be a full refund for the player attacked with the weapon.

Also, units couldn't be built/trained at a building that never existed, so those units should be erased and the training cost refunded.

Now I know they had logical reasons for doing this the way they did, but it just didn't match up to the story behind the chrono technology.

#29 Sulphix   Members   -  Reputation: 168

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Posted 17 August 2007 - 01:41 PM

Learn to love loglines (and alliteration). If you can't describe your story in a logline, there's either no irony (hence, no conflict) or you're trying to pack way too much in.

Every time I create a story, I create a logline. While they're usually much wordier the first time I write them, they at least keep me in check with regards to what should or shouldn't be in the story and if certain details serve the piece or distract from it.

And they are not just for movies (even though they are really used most in that industry, for pitching reasons.

Another important thing to remember is that just because a logline is short, it doesn't mean the narrative lacks depth. Take this logline for example: A former slave deals with her scarred past and is visited by a reincarnation of her murdered daughter (Beloved). Anyone who's read the book can tell you that the novel is anything but simplistic, yet it is easy to summarize in a sentence (or two if need be).

That's just my two cents. Loglines. Learn about them, use them, love them. They're also great tools for separating the good ideas from the bad ones.

#30 CreativeCombustion   Members   -  Reputation: 152

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Posted 16 September 2007 - 01:35 AM

Every beat should have a purpose in mind. Every beat should change a character's condition. If they do not change as a result of it, it is useless. No matter how cool it looks.

Reveal vital information at the last possible moment. That means grind your expository lumps and stir it well all over your story. Don't let it gather in lumps all over the place, but let it seem invisible to the reader.

Have a character premise in mind for each main character. That way you won't trail away and your story won't become wishy-washy. A premise is a shorthand for plot. Pride leads to self-destruction. That means the story starts out with a proud character and who destroys himself at the end of the story. All the event links in the middle connect those two ideas.

#31 Karnot   Members   -  Reputation: 179

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Posted 16 September 2007 - 01:47 AM

Quote:
Elves and other Tolkein/D&D races, or werewolves and vampires. No. Just no. We've seen it a hundred times before,

Huh ? Werewolves were done in hundred games ? Thats news to me...i can remember several console platformers with werewolves, and a few fightings...and thats about it.

#32 JasRonq   Members   -  Reputation: 156

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Posted 16 September 2007 - 02:33 AM

Maybe not games but plenty of movies and pop culture. Its tired and used up just the same.

#33 LmT   Members   -  Reputation: 208

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Posted 17 November 2007 - 03:46 PM

Some people don't understand this, but this is a very important rule: do not use excessive vulgarity in your story and script. A good story doesn't need it to be powerful and exciting. Swearing, if used in the right way, can be useful.

#34 Bob_the_dev   Members   -  Reputation: 186

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Posted 14 March 2008 - 11:35 AM

Quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
Some good principles for designing any story:

Control Focus With Detail vs. Ambiguity - Some of us prefer a lot of detail, some of us very little; nevertheless, you need to use both in your writing to direct your audience's attention to the important elements of the story. If you make everything detailed your audience will be bored because you are not asking them to use their imaginations; if you make everything ambiguous your audience will be confused, which again leads to boredom because they have no foundation on which to base their imaginative guesswork. Either make the setting ambiguous and the main character and plot clearly detailed, or make the setting detailed and the character motivations and plot ambiguous, and the audience's attention and suspense will be focused on figuring out what the detailed parts imply about the ambiguous parts.


I really like these principles, but I'm not sure the above applies to games. The setting and world can't help but be detailed simply due to games being a visual medium (unless, of course, it's a text adventure or a game with very crude graphics) and games having more information detailed (items, character stats/appearance, layout of locations, etc) that otherwise wouldn't be in written form.

I'd suggest that for games the principle would apply not to setting and plot but gameplay and plot. If the plot is ambiguous the player can make up for it by creating their own stories through the fun and interesting gameplay. If the gameplay is lacking or unfun this might be overcome by a very detailed, interesting, and thought out story. For instance: Ultima Online didn't much much of a story surrounding it, but I enjoyed the process of making my character and forming my own stories through playing. And The Longest Journey didn't have particularly compeling gameplay (it was point and click) but the story drove me forward out of interest.

Of course, all games and gameplay styles are different, and some don't even require a story for them to be enjoyable. It might only really apply to RPGs or Adventure games.

#35 Ezbez   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1164

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Posted 14 March 2008 - 12:23 PM

Quote:
Original post by Sulphix
That's just my two cents. Loglines. Learn about them, use them, love them. They're also great tools for separating the good ideas from the bad ones.


What, exactly, are loglines? Wikipedia and Google's define have both failed me.

#36 [deleted134196]   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 06 June 2008 - 01:35 AM

From reference.com:

A log line is a brief summary of a television program or movie, often providing both a synopsis of the program's plot, and an emotional "hook" to stimulate interest.

#37 paul8585   Banned   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 24 August 2008 - 01:29 PM

"Elements of Screenwriting" is a very excellent quick POETICA packed read, could be wrong on exact title, very sound, a great introduction to stucture.

#38 probabilityZero   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 08 November 2008 - 06:05 PM

The most important "do" I can think of is to have other people edit your work.

I've been playing and writing a bit of interactive fiction lately, and even in those games spelling and grammar errors slip through occasionally and can ruin the player's immersion.

It seems like an obvious thing to suggest, but you'd be surprised how many errors are never caught in released interactive fiction (including some of mine), not to mention the horrible grammar in many RPG Maker games and such. Trust me; no matter how good you think you are, you'll never catch all the errors yourself. You'll just read over your own writing and skip right past the typo, saying it correctly in your head without realizing it's written wrong. Get someone (or more than one someone) to proofread your game's script, or anything you write, really, before you publish it.

#39 kirai   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 01 January 2009 - 10:47 PM

Personality, personality, PERSONALITY.
I got tired of these stupid games where the main guy is like so cool so nice so light-side-of-the-forceand and the vilain is like me-am-bAd

seriously the best game I ever played had 4 main characters: a girl who fears death, a girl who is bullyed by her classmates, a girl who says 2 jokes in every line and the main character..... WHO DOESNT HAVE A PERSONALITY
yeah, hes like the lost guy in the nowehre, living just becuase he got to live, nothing on his mind, hes happy....
believe me, its the profile of the perfect boring guy, but its thanks to those 3 girls around him that you feel his emptyness and, more importantly, his desire to be something, if there is something that main characters need, its the other-character-who-will-make-your-main-shine.

ie: in a game where the main guy is the dark-wise-intelligent guy, you will need something like a character who never stops talking, who yells and screams for nothing and who does remind me of these gangasta guys all wrapped in golden chains and stuff. it shows how much the main character is wise and darky compared to this one, and most importantly, makes players (hardcores or kids or whatever) say stuff like "this one is my favourite, hes soo funny" "this one is so saad... just like me"
I think that having a character that sounds like ppl is just great
or makes ppl thik of themselves is just great

#40 Gregory Aaron Martin   Members   -  Reputation: 159

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 03:57 PM

\


Edited by Gregory Aaron Martin, 27 December 2012 - 04:36 PM.






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