For the past three years I have been resisting all things Fallen London. With the 10th year anniversary of this online browser game’s success, there all a sudden is a flood of articles and discussions about their particular brand of horror and interactive writing.
One of the most helpful discussions that have begun in earnest is the following:
These tips on writing interactive horror are very good – so good that I broke my multiple year long effort to avoid all things Fallen London.
As a community of interactive fiction, I believe a discussion here that dovetails with this one would be of everyone’s benefit.
With that in mind, I’ll list each major point of emphasis they provide and then comment my own take on it, hopefully to open up comments from everyone else.
With all that said, let’s start:
My Take: Be Certain should read: Be Specific.
Devil is in the details when it comes to writing interactive fiction – the more generic you write, the less you have a unique IP and the more you fall into the various writing traps. Tropes, stereotypes and assumptions all thrive under the generic label of writing. The more you can get specific with in your writing the more original you’ll be.
My Take: Show, Don’t Tell
Distilling something abstract into something immediate makes your writing “real” to your audience. It becomes an experience and not just a story to them. This bit, here, is my writing emphasis … this is what I work on the most right now.
Distillation (as they call it) is a multi-part process, one that my impatience often does not follow through with as much as I should.
“A few different manifestations” is a lot of work and it is bruising to your ego. In one of my recent scenes, I rewrote a particular part four times before the copy was acceptable to the standards I set for myself. 5,000 words turned into 15,000 words by the time I was done but I must have written and thrown out another 10,000 between all the copy. My ego was bruised to the bone, but at the end I had writing that set the new bar of success … now I have to work that much harder achieving this level of writing.
It is scary, frustrating and frankly migraine inducing at times.
The feedback I got from my alpha copy readers was well worth it. I hope to repeat this as I work on my writing this year.
My Take: Who, What, Where, When and How
“Situate yourself in the Character’s sense and situation” can be accomplished by answering a set of questions while you are writing. I like their set as much as my original set of questions and feel if you use both while writing, your copy will be better for it in the long run.
My Take: Nothing to Add Here
These things to avoid are more specific to interactive horror writing, so I imagine each of you experienced writers can come up with your own list of “Things to Avoid.” I am still developing my writing and have yet to achieve the mastery that I can point out a list of things to avoid…
Perhaps other, more experienced writers can add their lists to the discussion?
I had planned to do this type of discussion “later” when one of my “secret” projects I am working on is further along in its developmental process … however, I feel we have not had a good discussion of this nature in a while, and I have no clue when my project will achieve the milestones I need it to, in order to have this.
I would also be interested in knowing if the members of this community would be willing to have a series of these types of discussions, once I do get to the appropriate milestones in my development process? (assuming my collaborators are fully onboard as well).
We need more of this type of thread and fewer lists and ranking types of threads.