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Sage13

I need help with my writing

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I'm a bad writer. I have just come to cope with it. If I'm ever going to design decent games with stories I have to strengthen this weakness. I was wondering if you guys could read some of my stuff and give me some feedback for improvements. I pretty much know that I write strictly to communicate points (I get that from being in business), but how can I change that for writing sake? heres two examples of my writing; Amacro 1 Amacro 1 thanx -Sage13 Liquid Moon Team Project X2 [edited by - Sage13 on July 28, 2002 4:04:05 AM]

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quote:
Original post by Sage13
I pretty much know that I write strictly to communicate points (I get that from being in business), but how can I change that for writing sake?

Don''t change it; adapt it. You don''t need to stop communicating points, you just need to communicate more different kinds of points. Think about emotions, motives, perceptions, memories, prejudices, and so on. And communicate those ideas as part of the essential information you are trying to convey.


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Sorry ''cause I dont have the time for one of my lengthy post, but I just had to post ...

...if you are in business, then you already know how to bullshit people to make whatever you are selling seems like the best thing since sliced bread.
Well, writing is basically the same, except that your text is trying to communicate a variety of other ideas than "hey! buy my stuff! it''s the best, and at that price I am cutting my own throat!".
Seriously
The reason I say that is to tell you that if you have communication skills, then you already have a good basis from which to improve; like Kylotan said.

Style is something you simply work on, it''s not a gift your receive at birth! For ideas, everybody has them, so there... just work on trying to pass emotions/feeling in your texts rather than mercantile bullshits and you are on your way



Sancte Isidore ora pro nobis !

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so let me get this straight you''re math and you are trying to kill some guy named calculus....give me a break thats disgusting names like that will give people headaches. The story seems to be based on some ancient civilization being replicaed by a necromancer whom now controls the world? is that the story? and you''re trying to stop him? im lost as to what your story is about perhaps try posting a clear cut idea of the story line minus all teh backstory stuff.

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Kylotan and Awe:

Thanx, I will try and see how I may be able to communicate my ideas more creatively. I'm thinking that it's a bit too strait forward and that's why it's borning to me. Maybe if I add little details or something.

thanx again!

Vaneger:

As for the names, yes, they are being changed, right now we are jusy using them as place holders, the main characters name will actually be "Planadin".


"the story seems to be based on some ancient civilization being replicaed by a necromancer whom now controls the world?"

Sorry for the confusion, but no, these 2 examples are not the story, It's just backworld stuff that the player may never even know about. Here is where you can find the story for the game:




Game World Overview



and


Game Characters


thanx

peace

-Sage13


Liquid Moon Team

Project X2



[edited by - Sage13 on July 29, 2002 2:56:37 AM]

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Gee, this is tough. I have been advising writers for over twenty years, and it never gets any easier. First advice I always give is that the project pretty much better have you by the nads or you are never going to finish it. Two, you have to develop several layers of articulation of your concept. The screenwriters ''three pitches'' formula is a good example, not only for developing interest when selling a project, but for concept proofing as well.

The first pitch is the two liner. Here is an example from one of my own scripts. "This is a story about the death of the mystic at the dawn of the revolutionary age, experienced by a French Aristocrat eighteen hours after the storming of the Bastille." It provides context, conflict and character on one breath. Then, as they say, "hold your breath." Hold it until the person on the other side of the table or deal says, "Tell me more."

Then you go to layer two, and give about two paragraphs of aristotelian time, place circumstance. Add some characterization in terms of character arc beginning and end (you know not linearly, but dramatically) and dramatize the opposition (or antagonistic elements if there is not just one bad guy; though it has to be handled well, audiences like to see one bad guy get his cumuppins) and some plot point twists in terms of action and well described setting.

Then, hold your breath. You are waiting for the second asking of the same question. Then, go into a full executive summary style pitch minus what they already know, or, if you are smart, repeat in a more dramatic way the parts their expression changed positively on during your first two pitches. Once they fully get that pitch, then the next step is to have them ask you to sign and NDA and send them over the full script.

Now, you are probably wondering why I am talking about pitching and scripts in a thread on game writing. Well, it''s simple. If you don''t know your story well enough to talk about it in that manner, with that quality of oration, it was not a good enough concept to begin with to motivate you passionately and artistically to develop it to the point where it could be presented in this way. Pitching concepts is how products get sold, so you''re going to have to be in this place eventually. It is by no means the end of the process, all the production has to occur, of course. But if you are in the position where you are pitching a concept to somebody with a checkbook to fund your team, then you have to get those pitching skills ready. And nothing gets a pitch it''s punch more than a good story.

A good story, and it''s writing, are precisely your problem, but if you don''t visualize yourself selling it based on your great presentation, full of oratory excellence and thespian body language, then you know you didn''t do the job right to get you to that meeting, and you will fail and not sell the concept. That''s as plain as it gets, and we writer''s face that lack of development every day when we talk with those who want to be writers.

There are techniques and approaches galore, and you could max out your capital one card buying all the books on it from writing gurus who actually never won a major literary or entertainment award themselves, but have blurbs from famous writers all over the jacket matter. That''s the stuff on the inside and outside of the book cover, or jacket, all written to give credibility to somebody who needs to sell copies of their book, so they can write another how to, and never accomplish anything above that in terms of creative or entertainment significance.

But the number one technique in writing is mental. You have to have it going on in your head that you can do it, and do it right, or the process of writing turns into a major pain, and you''ll never give the concept the work it needs to not only make the end product of competitive quality, but to get you through development of it.

The old axiom, "if it ain''t on the page, it ain''t on the stage" is corrolary to "if it ain''t in the story, the buyer finds it borey."

And if you are going to tell a story right, and well, it isn''t a collection of properly executed required aspects and technique, it has to be a synergize, electric, animated, dynamic thing. In the jargon, "It has to have legs."

Those legs are attached to a body, and that body is hung on a spine. The spine of your story is the "through line plot." The through line plot has dramaturlogical requirements: conflict and resoltion. These conflicts are resolved most often by the pov of the main character, or the ensemble of characters if you are writing in that manner of approach. So, define you conflict. This is allegory to the harvard business method, which starts with define the problem. Examples are: Bruce Willis has to do a bunch of stupid monkey getting tons of racist grief from Samuel Jackson in order not to have one of New York''s schools blown up by a bunch of terrorists. (Die Hard 2, I think.)

Mel Gibson has to overthrow Edward Longshanks in order to free scotland. (Braveheart)

Each one of these succint statements is an entire story in one sentence. Your story has to do this in order to be broken down into it''s constituent components (sequences, scenes, shots) in order for it to be a screen story that is filmable.

Now, you are probably asking, why is this example of screenwriting being continued when we are talking about game writing, and isn''t game writing interactive and non-linear? Yes, it may be non-linear, but some of the finest minds in the writing and storytelling business, also known as the Writer''s Guild of American, will tell you that even if you are telling a non-linear and interactive story, it still by definition has a beginning, middle and end. Visualize a string of pearls as a screen story or novel, and then visualize a plate of pearls as an interactive story. The player still has to get to a goal, and they have to start somewhere, and they have to go through somethings to get to the goal. That sure as heck sounds like a beginning, middle and end to me, even if there are several divergents choices the player can make along the way, choosing how and when they get to the end.

So make sure your conflice that you have defined is as clear and as broad as it can be, else you may find out like so many unpublisherd writers and unproduced screewrights have found out, or didn''t, depending on how objective about their work they actually are: that they were actually describing only part of the conflict, and not the global defining enironment the conflict resolves itself in through the characters actions or speech.

So back up from your work, and figure out what kind of story world your conflict resides in, and place those global identifiers on a piece of paper and tape it on the wall over your monitor. Then, figure out where your story actually begins. Most people start thier stories way too early. You want your story to start when the action starts. When something has to be done, or something gets done that sets everything else into motion, including your main character or characters. You may find that when defining the story world, that a lot of that is not included in the final draft, but it is necessary anyway, so what is shown or told has plausible, underlying reasons why they exist or act.

Then, after having defined the conflict and the story world that conflict lives in, go to work on the character, and define that individual in the Lajos Egri method (The Art of Dramatic Writing, Touchstone books, ISBN: 0-671-21332-6, pp. 36-7). Reading that whole chapter wouldn''t hurt. By developing the main character sufficiently, you not only have something an audience or player can identify with as a representation of a whole being they can sympathize with and also avatar through, but a character entity exists in enough detail that you could understand what that character would do or say in a particular scene or shot because you know them well enough.

Now, I am not going to debate whether character is story or conflict is story, I''ll leave that to academics who don''t have to produce a story to sell to put bread on the table for a living. But this preparation and underpinning will give you a solid foundation to drive your story forward in conflict, which is what people pay to see or play. Bottom line.

Then, once the character and conflict are well defined, and you have figured out where your story begins and where it ends, then you can create the individual scenes (or levels, for that matter) that put your character in dilemmas they either overcome or don''t to get to the goal at the end of the dramatic structure you''ve previously designed.

There are plenty of books out there on this to tell you endless methods, techniques, approaches and styles to do it with, so I won''t go into that, but I do want to add one final note.

A good story and a great story is the difference between writing and rewriting. Just because you have a well crafted story does not mean it has the legs to get up and run, rewriting it over and over shows the weaknesses in pace, scene description or choice, and myriad other things. You have to tighten all these things up in order for it to unwind like a spring in the mind of the user or reader or audience. In fact, you have to figure out how to provide twists in the plot, for example in the Die Hard example: Bruce Willis had to do all this monkey idiot stuff to save the bomb from going off, but it was all just a diversion so the terrorists could rip off the federal depository.

That is what is called a twist, and twists are what make people go, "ooh, and ahh, and stuff." You gotta have that in there. Only by knowing your story so well though rewriting and rethinking, are you ever going to be in a position to make those story improvement choices.

Writing is tough, good writing is real tough, great writing is a harsh mistress, one that you can''t miss a trick with. There are several game design books that indicate that story is one third of games, so you can cover this important base with the right approach. Good luck.

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