How do YOU write: Tips, Tricks, Advice?


#1

There are a couple of blog posts from the CoG team (http://www.choiceofgames.com/category/blog/game-design/) but I was curious as to how the writers on the forum write.
Also any tips, tricks, or advice to anyone thinking of starting or having a hard time writing a game.

Some questions I thought of were:

(obviously) How do you write? - Do you like to start from the beginning and go from there, or do you jump around working on random scenes at a time? Do you write first and code later, or do both at the same time. How you plan and what kind of reaction/emotion do you want your players to feel?

Time - How long do you usually spend writing, either per day or per scene or whatever.

Choices and branching - How do you keep track of how the choices will affect what in the future and which branch leads to what path?

Writer’s Block - Have you had it (pretty sure the answer to that is yes) and what did you do to get over it?

When do you usually think about your game? - During the commute to work, in bed, at school, in the shower, random flashes of inspiration?

Horror stories - Worst thing that has happen to you whilst writing or coding?

and anything else anyone wants to throw in.

I, personally, really appreciate a game a lot more after reading or seeing how much time and effort went into it.
Kinda like watching those behind the scenes takes for movies and video games.


General Writing Thread (discussions optional)
Random Writing Advice
#2

As an author I’m a lot more comfortable with the writing of stories. So switching from writing MY story to my story you can influence was difficult at first.

When writing Unnatural I’m writing and coding as I go along. The time it takes varies I’ve written for a few hours or even a few minutes.

I try to work on one path at a time and check my variables at the start of each episode.

I work on it after work and on weekends when time permits. If I get writers block I work on other things.


#3

I personally write on google docs on my tablet, transfer it onto microsoft word on my computer then code with it since google docs i can do anywhere but it doesnt do spell check so i put it on word. Also i code one path at a time and then have a playthrough or two to find errors and fix those if they happen. It usually takes no more than half an hour to write a scene and usually only 5-10 minutes for me. When i get writers block i put my tablet down and walk away ill think up something later. I think mostly in the bathroom in bed or in my living room. I decided to take a little break from coding my big game and to code a small game, turns out its not that small and ive coded about 38/105 scenes and ive coded for over 10 hours… its taking a while.


#4

I start from the beginning, and work to the end. If I do skip around, its usually between different versions of scenes (when writing in ChoiceScript). I write and code at the same time, but usually I have a pretty good idea of what I want to happen in a scene before I start writing and/or coding.

My planning involves just thinking and imagining. I think about set pieces, characters, and specific lines that I want to deliver and that I think are cool or interesting. Sometimes when I’m by myself I like to say some of my character’s lines aloud to make sure they sound okay or if they can be improved.

What I want my players to feel will depend on the subject matter. The most important thing though is that I want them to feel immersed in the universe I have created.

I’m somewhat erratic in the time I spend on writing/coding. Some days I will work for hours (anything between 2 and 4-5 at a time), while on others I will do absolutely nothing. It depends on my environment, my mood, and the rest of my life. Obviously things like university, work and my social life can get in the way (but we can’t be writing 24/7, of course!).

To keep track of choices and paths, I’ll be thinking ahead whenever I write something. I think about where a choice could lead, and if it is somewhere I want to go. If it isn’t, I’ll devise a way to reroute it back into other paths. In addition to that, I have a pretty good idea of where the story will be going, and I’ll have notes about it.

To get over writers block, I usually just take a break, and do other things - read, play video games, do social stuff, etc. Anything to re-inspire me or take my mind of it is good. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as they say.

I try to think about my writing whenever I’m not thinking about something important. While driving (within reason of course - don’t want to get distracted), while working (when I’m able), whenever I have free time and I feel like it, really.

I’ve lost entire novels in progress before due to failure to back up. ALWAYS keep a copy of your work on a USB, external hard drive, or separate computer. Fortunately my work was in its early stages when I lost it - I was able to rewrite fairly quickly.

Of course, being passionate about writing, and creating worlds and characters, is a huge help. If your imagination can give you goosebumps, then you’re doing it right.

Hope that helps!


#5

How do you write? - I’m writing on two projects simultaneously, one story-based and an RPG one…and I switch between them according to my mood. I also start coding from the beginning (I mostly don’t leave “TODO” choices in my games), and I code each branch one by one. Sometimes I may upload only some of the branches, but I never upload a branch that just feels linear because at every *choice I coded one or two of the #choices only.

Time - I usually spend about 2 to 4 hours a day coding. I don’t code at all in weekends, or on days before school tests.

Choices and branching - I give labels a unique name that actually show in the name of them what they do (i.e. OrcCombatCaveEnemyTurn for example). If I don’t know which leads to what sometimes, I just CTRL+F on Notepad++ and can find where a *goto goes easily. Also, I just keep a Notepad .txt file open in which I sketch anything I need to remember further on in the game once programming.

Writer’s Block - I didn’t have any writer’s block yet. Mainly because my game’s storyline isn’t that great.

When do you usually think about your game? - Usually, whenever I do something that doesn’t require attention, I just think of how I could improve my game or add more to it.

Horror stories - Worst thing was when I spent about 2 hours coding a system for my game (the date/time system I think) and then, when I wanted to upload the file from my PC to Dropbox, I did the opposite and all my changes were lost forever…therefore I had to do it again. But still, it’s not horror, is it?


#6

How do I write - I just type it. It has to flow through my really. Sometimes I write tons and end up deleting it, but that’s how it goes.

Time - When I can be bothered. I cannot write for the sake of writing and it kinda bites me sometimes when it comes to actual work…

Choices - I’ll pass on this one.

Writer’s Block - Just don’t force it. If you have the dreaded block then go take a break. I don’t ‘try’ and beat it or get around it, because that can prolong it sometimes. The biggest case of writer’s block I’ve had was probably near enough 6 years. I was very heavily involved in rping, from stupid stuff like e-fedding, to actual roleplaying PBEM’s and PBF games. I started at 12ish and was 22-23 when I finally ‘died’ in terms of writer’s block. It wasn’t particularly annoying for me though, I was published at 14/15 (Poetry though so it doesn’t really count to me), and never really intended to get published any further (I still don’t), but it wasn’t particularly a nice feeling as it cut me off from all the communities I had partaken in.

Anyway, I eventually tried re-creational writing again last year after several failed attempts (I could write it just wasn’t fun…) and all of a sudden it just clicked and I realised I liked writing. So I’m now back in the game, ideas flowing, writing going well and eh it’s a nice feeling to recapture. It might have something to do with my resurgant interest in visual novels though, I’ll never know!

But yeah, if you get writer’s block just do the impossible and relax, don’t force it, it will come back.

Story thinking - um, usually when I’m sleeping. My current story has been a very long process, something like 10-12 years anyway. It’s always been there and evolving as I grew older, I just haven’t ever put it onto paper.

Horror story - Never really had any to be fair… =)


#7

How do you write? - Start from the beginning. I cannot do it in non-chronological order. I always come up with a skeleton first and then fill in stuff later. The filling in stuff part is the most dynamic, I find. When you’re writing, sometimes something seems to flow better one way. Or you find out then you can add in things. Therefore, the skeleton will have to be rearranged. If I jumped in and out, it would be harder for me to keep track.

Because I like things done chronologically, I code and write at the same time. When I’m clear on what I want to do, I put in bits of code before hand as a structure. Which can change, but that’s fine. Because I can still see it clearly.

As for branching, that depends on the scope. Small situations can be written simultaneously. If it’s a major story branch, I focus on one at a time. While writing those, I try to establish a common set of events which may be set to change depending on the choice. To give an example, the player can get exiled from their family. If the player has a brother, he would be made the family head. If not, the player’s mother adopts someone she trusts to inherit. Meanwhile, there is a battle between two clans which will turn out a certain way. But if the player were not exiled, they would participate in the battle and hence influence the balanace of power betweenthese two clans.

Time - As much as I can. Which depends on my energy.

Choices and branching - Broadly speaking, I have two types of choices. The first kind is those that will affect the ending. This is easy because I already have an end goal and I just need to plant the seeds. Sometimes though, when writing, I realise that I can add on more to the ending variations. I also know that I will be writing sequels for each of my four main endings, which are organised into the player’s role by the end. And within the role, they are variations. For example, the player can stay a samurai but whether they continue serving their first clan or join another depends on the choices.

Second type of choice are character development ones. Their effects are subtle and do things like set the mood, or give players access to items or skills or knowledge which may help them solve a situation in a special way. Also, some contributes to NPC relations, which may in turn bestow the benefit of items or knowledge.

Writing block - All the time. Most of it is due to prose, some of it is thinking about content. Content worries are solved by constantly thinking about it, do a little silly live-action roleplay with yourself and hope no one sees, get inspired, then write. Prose ones… I don’t know how to help. I just eventually settle on something I find workable, and sometimes I go back to edit when I think I have a better sentence.

When do you usually think about your game? - Almost all the time.

Horror stories - Yeah. I found out that I’ve been writing '*set = ’ instead of ‘*set “” ’ for a shit load of chapters. Over several months’ worth of work. Oh, and also that I’ve been writing commands which increase a value which doesn’t exist. Had to go in and change everything.


#8

How do I write - I start from the beginning and code as I go along. I tend to go back and add stuff that might be of use later. I also edit what I wrote to make it more interesting.

Time - I try to write at least once a day, but I get most of my writing done on the weekend.

Writer’s Block - If I am stuck, I just try to write the outline of whatever I’m stuck on, then I come back and fix it up. Or I read something that gives me inspiration.

When do I think about my story - When I’m on the toliet. :-)) I tend to think about it when I am walking home from school, or when I am working out.

Horror story - None. If I’m lucky, it will stay that way.


#9

I ALWAYS code first if there’s a “system” involved. The markup code, things like choices and variable setting I’ll do as I write.

I spend much longer than I should, writing (or not writing, as the case may be).
I tend to produce my best first time round, I’m overly critical of my own work so can’t actually afford to go and back ‘review’ stuff - as usually I’ll be merely wasting time or actually making things worse. I know this is quite the opposite of many other people who will go back and rewrite certain parts of their stories at later dates, should it seem necessary.

I’m actually pretty bad at designing choice trees myself, so far I’ve just ‘gone with the flow’. Something like @ScarletGeisha 's idea might be good to practice, divide your choices up into types. That’ll give you a framework to work with and prevent you from over stretching your boundaries. It’s too easy to make a choice do nothing or do too much (set variables/affect branches). If you have those “types” it’ll keep on you on the right track; this is a relationship choice, it only affects the relationship etc.

I don’t believe in the traditional “Writer’s Block” - I prefer to think of it as self-doubt induced indecision. It’s not that you can’t think of what to write next, more often as it’s you don’t know WHICH idea to write next. That’s what I find anyway, and damn, if you find a way to avoid – please let me know!

Horror stories? Many, many, many. Usually coding related (due to my over-ambitious ideas). Like trying to simulate a social network. That’s fun. -.-

It’s always nice to see threads like this, thanks for posting it! :slight_smile:


#10

@aurumcelest

Basically I come up with the general idea and make note of some key points I want to put in the story eventually. I usually envision at least one ending during the initial creation process. I tend to try to write from beginning to end (or ends rather) but if I come up with some dialogue or a scene that doesn’t work immediately but might at a later point in the story, I’ll write it out on a separate page so I can refer to it later.

I typically have a big “notes” page where I keep track of all the important names and places that are going to be in my story. Obviously some more usually get added on the way, but I still like to keep track of everything in case I forget a name since someone who might be a very minor character in one path might play a major role in another path.

I usually see the story as a timeline which branches off into alternate timelines, so I have a basic timeline of events I have planned for the story. This helps with determining where to place some of the more key choices or branching. Again the timeline is subject to change as sometimes I decide if something won’t work or something would work better elsewhere. Its pretty helpful for me though tracking all these alternate timelines in this way.

With the basic skeleton in place I usually try to focus on writing one timeline from beginning to end first. This is much like writing a “regular story”. Then I go back and fill in all the shorter branches which lead to premature endings.

After one full timeline is completed. I start on another one of the main branches which lead to fully thought out alternate timelines get worked on along with their shorter premature ending branches as well. Basically I just keep repeating the process until I’m finished with all the timelines.

I don’t really suffer from writer’s block so much as I just suffer from not enough time to write as much as I used to or getting distracted with other things. If I had tons of time and no distractions, I’d definitely be writing a lot more. I’ve been writing down a lot of ideas for stories I’d like to work on, and I always hope someday I’ll actually get the time to work on them more.

I think about ideas for my stories almost anywhere, there really isn’t a set time or place.

The only big horror story as far as writing a story was the computer suddenly dying on me and I hadn’t managed to update my back up copy yet. And since the computer had died for good, I couldn’t even retrieve what I had been working on. Fortunately it was only about three or four pages I lost, still pretty annoying though.


#11

This is designed to discuss the writing process and the current novels or stories you’re working on, including story ideas and/or concepts. Character development is also encouraged. As for me, right now I’m working on the rules to my soul-room chapter, which are thus:

Rules of The Soul-Room

  1. Its connected to a person’s mental wellbeing/life-force
  2. Its disconnected whenever someone dies, but is frozen in time
  3. All of the objects inside are metaphors of a personality trait or desires/fears
  4. Only magic-users can access a soul-room, or dimensional travellers.
  5. Sometimes flashes of memories are leaked through, it is forbidden for travellers to alter the memories.

What does everyone else think so far? Are there any stories you are all working on at the moment?


#12

hum…don’t code , I only write stories . Nothing online .

Before writing , I say ‘research’ what you wanna write about should come first . research , research…as much as you can .

Yes , once you sit down . It start with Title…then chapter 1…then blahblah lol

The most important part is that 1st intro . It has to hook them . It has to make the reader be curious , what gonna happen ? where you going with this ? who was that ? what kind of world is this ? and so on…

Depand on the story . But emotions are fun to write and throw around . But alone aren’t enough . You need a mixed bag of a little bit of everything .

8 hours in a day ? I mean my longest story…took me 6 months lol that was one chapter a day . So yeah…though I was going to die…cose never worked on something this big .

Of course , some peoples can work for long hours . But I don’t recommand following what peoples do . Follow what you feel is right for you .

I don’t . I keep it all in my head which can be a pain in the ass . My biggest problem was remembering names of my characters and those they meet then the choices they make in the story lol .

going trough it right now . I wrote one full chapter and stuck at the 2nd one…for days now . :frowning:

I tell you when I get over mine lol

anywhere . Really , could be in bed just before falling asleep…could be while making supper lol

humm…had a couple of characters with Japanese names . So whole time , I pretty much wrote them wrong . So had to go back and fix it all . That was a lot of work :disappointed_relieved:

Tips and advice ? humm…

Don’t force it if you can’t . Walk , eat…do something to clear your mind and then try again .

Don’t work when tired . In my experience…the writing suffer when you feel so tired you should be in bed but you ‘just wanna get this part over with’ . Then come next morning and you are all charged…and you hate what you wrote !! Danger! could lessen the urge to finish said story because of that . Instead , be patient …go to bed and write it right the next day .


#13

Closing due to age of thread. Please create a new one if you have something similar to share!

NOTE: @Gower has been informed.


#14