Jump to content
JuJu

writing How Write Good?, Part 2: Advanced Narration, and How to Not Do The Thing

Recommended Posts

HOW WRITE GOOD, PART 2:

DON'T DO THE THING

 

 

Before I start, I trick myself into thinking I know what's going to happen in the story, but the characters have ideas of their own, and I always go with the character's choices. Most of the time I discover plot twists and directions that are better than what I originally had planned. -Neal Shusterman

 

Hey! What, you're back again? I didn't scare you off the first time? Wow... okay. A little unexpected, but okay. So, how did the story go? Mhmm... Mhmm.. ah, okay. So you: 

 

HAVE A STORY, BUT IT KEEPS ENDING UP TOO PREDICTABLE/ IT'S HARD TO KEEP TRACK OF WHAT'S GOING ON?

 

Okay, I think I can help with that. Sit here, and let's talk about it. 

 

So you've got the story. But somehow, it keeps slipping down the mountain on one ski, ending up at the bottom in a crumpled heap so predictable that the player can see the end coming from the first thirty seconds of descent. It seems like everything's at a loss, because you can't figure out how to keep the story from crashing, despite knowing the linear narrative and all that other stuff we talked about last time

 

Well, here's the problem. We gotta keep that story from crashing and burning. How? Well, let's see. Why don't we try giving the story TWO skis instead of one? And maybe some ski poles so they can guide themselves down the slope? Boots and bindings would be a good thing too, so the story can actually stay on whatever ski it has, whether one or two. Are you getting the metaphor yet? I hope so... 

 

To explain in more detail: a story with no supports is the same as a skier with no supports. It's not going to end well for anyone

 

What the heck are supports, you ask? How can a story have supports? Well... let's think about our story from last time. 

 

A small girl with red hair lives in a shabby house on the edge of a futuristic city; she goes from her house to find her missing mother.

 

By itself, this is technically a story. And depending on what we decided to do with our narrative, it's a good game. But it's still a little.... lackluster. How can we fix this? With supports, of course! 

 

Support #1: Setting

 

Wait a minute, wait a minute! You say. We know the setting already, Juju! It's a futuristic city! Yes, but... do you know what atmosphere means? Not air you breathe atmosphere, but aesthetic atmosphere. This city... the girl's house is shabby. It's safe to say she doesn't live in a very futuristic part of the city. More likely, she lives in the slums. Why would there be slums in a futuristic city? What sort of people live there?

 

Let's say, for instance, that to survive in the city as a healthy citizen, you have to pass an aptitude test that places you with a job. (a la Divergent series, almost). Those people who can't pass the test for whatever reason have no other choice but to live in poverty on the outskirts of the city. By extension, this would mean that the girl's mother also failed the test. Does this failed test play some part in her disappearance? Hmm... Is there more to the plot than meets the eye? All of this can be gleamed just from the setting of the story. Wow! 

 

Support #2: Characters and Their Locations

 

What kind of story would it be without characters? Well, there are a few games that have only one or two characters, but in our game, we have a whole city's worth! That's a lot of work.... or is it

 

Get out your linear narrative that you've written in your word processor, or in the back of that shabby notebook that holds a few papers from tenth grade and a crude drawing of your gym teacher. Here's where we map out where our character will go. What do you mean, Juju? Well, again, it all comes down to organization. Personally, I use Excel for this, but in most word processors there's an option to make a table that will do basically the same thing. 

 

What we're going to do is write down where the character will go and what they might find there. For our game, I'll include a downloadable example. Let's say that the redheaded girl goes to the bus stop, an office building, a seedy diner, the neighborhood near her house, and finally a warehouse. In my real game that I'm making, there's about 15 of these. 

 

:o IMPORTANT: THESE ARE NOT THE NUMBER OF MAPS YOU HAVE (well, they can be, but I don't use it that way). :o 

:o THESE ARE ONLY THE AREAS THE PLAYER AND CHARACTER GO TO!   :o

 

If you look at the attached example, you can see that there are 3--Count 'em, 3-- columns. They say "Name of Area", "Enemies", and "Key Scenarios". Of course, you can add more or less columns depending on preference. I've written the name of the areas, whether I expect any enemies to be encountered in said area, and if the area holds a valuable cutscene that's used to further the story. The best thing about this is that you can always leave your story, come back to it, and remember at the very least the bare basics of what you were planning on doing to it in the game. 

 

In terms of maps, each area can have as many maps as you like. There can be three maps in the bus station, for example: the outside, the inside, and the bus itself. This is also where you can start adding an important support: Characters. In my own organization, I have an excel workbook that has many, many tabs. These tabs are labeled things like: Enemies, Items, Key Items, Skills, Characters, Areas, etc. My Character tab has the name of the Character, a brief explanation of the Character, and what Area they can be found in. Some are just NPCs, others have Key Items for the player, and others help further the story in other ways.

 

If you don't have Excel, you can easily add a Characters row to whatever table you're working with. 

 

Why the trouble, you ask? Well, think back to that aesthetic atmosphere. Have you ever watched a show, or played a game, and found that one NPC that struck a chord with you, or that one side character that you liked better than the hero/heroine? What if they hadn't existed. Would the game still be the same without them? Of course not! Good characters flesh out a story and make it more believable. And that's what we're trying to do- sell this story and its sincerity to the player. 

 

 

There are plenty of more supports that I could go into, if I had the time. For homework, read up on these links. They're hand picked by me, so you know they're good  ;) 

 

1. R.R. Martin Tells You What's What (that's the Game of Thrones guy, for those of you who aren't into that sort of stuff)

 

2. World Building and You: How to be an Awesome God of Imagination

 

3. A Sum-Up of This Lesson and Part 1, but Written by Someone Else

 

 

Is that everything? I think that's everything... oh. Wait. Before you go: 

 

Don't. 

Do. 

The. 

Thing. 

 

Okay, so you know how we've established that skiers need supports to stop from falling down and dying? Okay, a skier with protective suit and two skis and poles is fine. But a skier with five pillows, two sets of goggles, twelve poles, nine skies, and a big marshmallow helmet will crash and burn just as easily as one with only one ski! You can't juggle that many things going on! 

 

A story with too many supports will be as bad as one with no supports at all!!!!

 

Okay, okay! You say. How can I tell? Easy. Remember what I said was the most important part of the story? Think hard, now. 

 

The main character must have a goal. 

 

Good job! Now, every time you add a support, think to yourself: how will this help my main character achieve their goal

Think about the ski thing again. We give our skier two skis, two poles, bindings, boots, a suit, and a helmet. This is to help them reach the goal of skiing to the bottom of the mountain and making it there in one piece without dying. Just the same, your supports MUST have a way of helping the main character to reach their goal one way or another, or else it's just extra baggage that'll weigh the story down until it has no way of moving forward. 

 

Like it? Am I still stupid and know even less than before? Can't wait for part 3? 

Let me know!

 

 

post-63856-0-79000700-1466883921_thumb.png

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, you said to let you know that we wanted part 3, so where is part 3? XD

 

Anywho, here's a writer to writer question for you, although this doesn't pertain directly to RPG Maker.

 

How can you keep subplots as interesting as the main plot in a novel, especially when it involves many different groups?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Anywho, here's a writer to writer question for you, although this doesn't pertain directly to RPG Maker.

 

How can you keep subplots as interesting as the main plot in a novel, especially when it involves many different groups?

 

How many different groups are we talking about? Do you mean GoT with 100+ people doing their own thing, or just a few small side plots? 

 

Either way, I think that if you treated the sub-plot the same as you would a story, it would be more interesting. A sub-plot is... A Sub Plot! A mini story within a larger story, so it's basically the same thing. Give the main character (of the subplot) a goal, and let it ride. The golden rule is to make certain that your subplot won't take away from the main plot any. Otherwise, the main plot is a subplot and vise versa. 

 

As for keeping it interesting- follow the above. Support, support, support! (chants) One of my most popular fan-fictions to date has at least 3 plots all intertwining over a period of a few months, and while the main plot is the same, the smaller details of the three subplots all add together to embellish and hold up the main plot so that it never sinks down, bogged by all these conflicting characters doing their stuff. (scratches head) Hope that helps! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

what if the plot has a goal? and the mc is just thrown into the plot without a goal because they are newborn? :P

Well... I feel like you're being facetious ;) but in this case, there's still a clear goal, so I think it would work. It would depend heavily on context. 

 

Goal, in definition, means "an aim or desired result". It's something to be worked towards, an achievement of the player's efforts. That is the core of a game, in its simplest, most broken down form (in my opinion at least, as little as it may be)   So, as long as there's a clearly defined goal, I think you'll be okay. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

sorry, I just like asking hypotheticals. I've never actually written such a story. :P 

often times my characters change their goals in turning points. I wish I could find a beta reader for one in particular story I have drafted. because there are issues I don't know how to resolve. yet alas, you know time and people and what not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

sorry, I just like asking hypotheticals. I've never actually written such a story. :P 

 

often times my characters change their goals in turning points. I wish I could find a beta reader for one in particular story I have drafted. because there are issues I don't know how to resolve. yet alas, you know time and people and what not.

 

Changing goals is perfectly fine, too! It shows character development, if done right.  :D

Hypothetically speaking, you should probably write a story like that. I don't think I've seen many in that way. 

 

Time and people and whatnot, yes. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please please please make a part three! I love this series so far, and as a writer even I find this advise very helpful! I've only just now thought of using Excel to help plan out my story [mostly to keep track of weapons/skills/classes I want to add], but also adding areas/characters/etc in chart form [eg what is their goal, how to they help the main character's goal, what do have they done, what will they do, etc] is an absolutely brilliant idea for the beginnings of a story to keep everything organized. 

 

Plus your analogies about skiing are very funny to me [which is helpful because I have a terrible memory]; now I'll remember all this information because I don't want my story becoming a broken skiier snowball at the bottom of a hill.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please please please make a part three! I love this series so far, and as a writer even I find this advise very helpful! I've only just now thought of using Excel to help plan out my story [mostly to keep track of weapons/skills/classes I want to add], but also adding areas/characters/etc in chart form [eg what is their goal, how to they help the main character's goal, what do have they done, what will they do, etc] is an absolutely brilliant idea for the beginnings of a story to keep everything organized. 

 

Plus your analogies about skiing are very funny to me [which is helpful because I have a terrible memory]; now I'll remember all this information because I don't want my story becoming a broken skiier snowball at the bottom of a hill.

 

Glad you've enjoyed them and found them helpful! Part 3 is in the works ;) 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×