February 2024's Writer Support Thread

I think I’ve found one of my biggest writing frustrations; usually I’m pretty sanguine about writing stuff, but this particular one always ends up deeply annoying and time-consuming. Besides which I only have myself to blame because in my outline this was done more elegantly, but when it came to writing it didn’t quite work that way because I wanted more chances to get close with NPCs (romantically or otherwise) on a single playthrough.

It’s romance conflicts - where a character the PC is romancing has noticed that you’re in a romance with someone else too, and there’s the need for a discussion about where that’s going.

If it’s a potential polyamory situation, I’m fine with writing that - it seems right to have a straightforward multiple-person conversation about it. But if they’re incompatible, it’s always fiddly to figure out a) whether it makes sense for other characters actually know what the PC’s up to, b) how to make that conversation go, and c) whether I could justify both characters coming to the PC at once to discuss it (which seems like behaviour that won’t always work for every character! edit: Having said that… maybe I should just go for that for some of these cases…)

If character Q is asking the PC to check in about their feelings about character Z and the PC realises they’re more into character Q, the PC going off to tell Z this and then returning to Q for their heartfelt whatevers feels silly. But character Q being told by the PC “it’s OK, I don’t have feelings for Z”, being reassured, and then doing the heartfelt stuff will only work for some characters… and then where should the conversation with Z go? Should Z psychically understand that the romance has broken off? (probably not, if the PC and Z are actually dating rather than just having done some harmless flirting)

And then what about a PC who’s also romancing character G - how to deal with multiple instances of this kind of conversation without it being repetitive or weird? Not to mention giving space for players who want to start a romance late?

I’ve never been quite happy with how I’ve handled this; I don’t want to do what I did in Royal Affairs where you get nudged to have breakup talks with the people you don’t actually want to romance, because there isn’t an inbuilt structure about getting engaged etc, it’s more deciding how serious you want to be about your romance and whether you want to be exclusive; I feel like I’m going to end up doing something a bit more like Creme de la Creme where you can cheat on people if you want, but I do also want the characters who have strong feelings about not wanting to be in a V poly with the PC and certain other characters to have space to state as such, plus some of the characters’ feelings would be hurt if they found out that the PC was sneaking around and I want to allow for that to be shown onscreen.

Sooo, that’s where I am at the end of this week: in a bit of a tangle about how I want to do that, about 1000 words into Chapter 9, noodling around with a few early-game tweaks, hoping the weekend will freshen me up for next week, and being very excited about my new cover art.