May 2024's Writer Support Thread

When I first began writing IF, I used to have play-lists and goto songs for many occasions.

I’ve actually moved away from this practice and now fight for total silence as I write. If I am on a roll writing, sometimes a song will fill my head with its echoes, but that does not happen often.

In my Emigre story, I reference actual 19th century music, although the lyrics by today’s standards are really innapropriate to be used.

In Patchwerks, I reference “music” in several different ways (i.e. a fiddler playing for a dancing couple in my just shared excerpt) but no published or folk songs from “real life”.

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I find it useful to have music on in the background as I write. No words, that’s too distracting. Depending on the scene, I’ll want something on the spectrum between “epic music” and sonic wallpaper. YouTube is awash with options these days.

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Total silence? Ah, that brings back memories. Afraid I’m way too into the music to do that anymore, although I do enjoy the referencing you’re describing. Makes the setting feel a little more alive.

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Same here. I usually just search ‘something something ambient music’. :upside_down_face:

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I have music on bc I like noise while I work, usually some kind of elctronica just for thematic reasons (although my love of musicals bleeds in occasionally, I’m a “hit shuffle on liked songs” kind of Spotify user).

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I have character playlists that have lyrics, but I use that when I’m trying to develop the character (using character interview questions, writing scenarios and background for practice, ect) or coming up with character-centric scenes.
For more generally plot heavy writing, I also like instrumental music. Video game and movie soundtracks are pretty good for that.

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I can’t have music if I’m writing fiction, I just can’t focus with it. Oddly enough, I’m completely opposite with non-fiction (or at least essays, my thesis, and the like), with which I may just put a single album (or song) I feel like listening to on repeat, and that instead helps me to focus. (But not when I’m reading materials. No noise there, thank you very much.)

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I’ve learned I have to have rain ambience on in the background, or something of the sort, because I have this really bad tinnitus I get in my ears when things are just silent and it completely ruins my concentration. Not to mention can give me a headache. Just recently found this out and I have been able to write so much more efficiently.

Update: Now halfway done with the intimate scenes. Totally 13k words, which is 5k more than I was expecting they’d add up to.

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I updated my game! Honestly I feel crazier than when I first posted it lol, surreal feeling. Doubt I’ll be able to say I’ve more than doubled my wordcount in one update ever again though.

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But I still haven’t finished my work project! :sob:

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In today’s news, my current writing hangup: I keep trying to make all pages of equal length. Even where it flat-out doesn’t work (like, say, in a discussion or anywhere where MC would have a bunch of choices in a row in a short time span).

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Advice: kick this hangup. What you show on a page can be a stylistic choice that means things. For example, I recently played the One Knight Stand WIP, and at points you have several screens in a row that are literally one line each, and the scene they collectively depict has much more impact that way than if it were just one screen with all the lines in it, paragraph by paragraph. It’s an EXCEEDINGLY good way to build up tension.

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It wouldn’t be a hangup if I wouldn’t prefer kicking it, but I’m struggling to do so. :laughing: I can’t stand multi-line paragraphs with the last line being only one word, or a couple of very short words, either. I feel they’re going to fall on their face.

(Although multiple pages in the vein you described tend to just irritate me, as a reader.)

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I try to keep each paragraph under two lines in the coding because I find that spacing works well in the actual game. I don’t like to see a massive wall of text, I prefer it broken up. Then I would say I try to keep it to five or less paragraphs before some kind of choice. If there is no choice, I put a “Continue.” But I don’t have any rule for it being too short. The more little choices, the more interactive it feels for me.

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A little late on the excerpt, but what the hey.

Yes MC, call the dude you have met once in the middle of the night about your troubles.
*selectable_if (alinumber = 2) #@{alinumber Even if I wanted to talk to Alistair, I have no way of contacting him.|In the face of all logic, Alistair.|No, I don't regret erasing Alistair's number.|DUMMY}
                *set rel_alistair %+ 20
                *set doubt_alistair +5
                Confiding any of this to him crosses the line from foolish into out and out insane.
                
                If you speak to him, it will have to be in the vaguest of terms, stripped bare of almost all detail. Would such a neutered conversation get any of this off your chest?
                
                *choice
                    #It might.
                        Only one way to find out.
                        
                    #Probably not.
                        But your phone is already in your hand.
                
                You hit call. You get an answer on the fourth ring.
                
                "'lo?" says a bleary voice.
                
                *if expressive > 65
                    "Hey man. I know this is a little out of the blue, but it's @{aliname $!{aka2}. You know, |}your friend from the shipping container."
                    
                *else
                    "Um, is this Alistair?"
                    
                    "Speaking, yeah," he murmurs, sounding half asleep.
                    
                    "It's @{@{aliname $!{aka2}. You know, |}your friend from the shipping container."
                    
                There's a pause. "For real?" @{(expressive > 65) He sounds marginally more awake.|}
                
                "Yeah. @{expressive > 65) Hope I'm not interrupting anything."|Sorry for calling so randomly."}
                
                @{(expressive > 65) "Other than my sleep? Naw, nothing."|"All good. Often call folks in the middle of the night?"}
                
                Ohhh shit.
                
                You kinda didn't think of that.
                *choice
                    #"Sorry, I kinda didn't think of that."
                        
                        "I couldn't sleep. I guess I lost track of how late it'd got."
                        
                        Obviously, you have to avoid any implication that you've been abroad tonight. You're already risking him drawing a connection between the midnight mask fight and the unexpected call. May as well hand him an autographed $!{mask} t-shirt at that point.
                        
                        *goto aligood
                    #Come up with an excuse.
                        
                        "My bad, I'm keeping a weird schedule right now."
                        
                        *label aligood
                        "Mmn. All good." There's a strange sound, and you realise he's yawning. "Everything okay? You need a hand?"
                        
                    #Hang up out of embarrassment.
                        Your thumb moves on its own to terminate the call.
                        
                        Obviously he was asleep. It's—you check the time on your phone—almost 4 in the freaking morning. Are you stupid?
                        
                        Your phone rings in your hand, startling you badly enough you almost drop it on the floor.
                        
                        You pick up before you talk yourself out of it.
                        
                        Alistair speaks immediately. "Didn't gotta leave like that. Just surprised me is all. Everything good? You need a hand?"
                        
                    #Make a joke out of it.
                        *if expressive > 45
                            "You surprise me with pasta, I surprise you with phone calls."
                            
                            He breathes a soft 'ha'. "Yeah okay."
                            
                        *else
                            You're blanking.
                            
                            Why is humour so difficult?
                            
                            "Still there?"
                            
                            You concede defeat. "I was hoping I'd come up with a clever one-liner, but I'm empty."
                            
                            Alistair laughs quietly. "It's fine." To your surprise, he lets the late hour drop entirely. "Everything good? You need a hand?"
                    
                *choice
                    #Focus on needing company rather than anything more specific.
                    #Couch things in general terms.
                    #Allude vaguely to a sour encounter.
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I shared this on my WiP page as well, but I figured out how to give people the option to turn of Text Box Investigations in my game! Granted, I got way more positive feedback than negative about the TBI’s, but the primary complaints tended to come from non-native English speakers who were having trouble figuring out the right words to type, which is completely understandable. So, as an accessibility option, people can now toggle them on and off as much as they like, even in the middle of an investigation. Didn’t take as long to figure it out as I thought it would, tbh.
TBI Toggle Preview GIF

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I’m nearly three weeks post-operation now, so I have not done much writing, primarily because of post-surgery aches but also a slight drop in writing confidence.

However, I did manage to write the opening paragraph of my planned novella, A Fae Heart.


Memories of the crash still hit Aoife Connolly in flashes, fragments of the accident even five months after the transplant surgery that saved her life. Aoife didn’t know if it was fate or merely irony that the only suitable donor would have been the very one she was desperately trying to save when Ambulance 234 collided with something. Her own life saved by a life she couldn’t. She sighed; she had to stop dwelling on what had happened. She had been given a second chance, and Aoife promised herself and her new heart that she would make the most of it.


Due to my current lack of confidence I don’t think it’s that great but part of me still likes some of the sentences.

I hope everyone is having a productive month.

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Take care, and I hope the pain abates soon!

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I’m having a very allergic month so far.

Please remember to rest enough!

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I sneezed the other day, and it felt like a xenomorph was trying to escape my chest!

Thankfully, primarily, the pain has been manageable.

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