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Writing strategies

  • calunio
  • 01/27/2020 07:36 PM
  • 639 views
THERAPIST: Mind Manager is a story-oriented game. Even though I put a lot of thought and work on its mechanics, they exist only to bring out narrative elements. So I really wanted to get the writing right. I want to create impacting dialogs, compelling characters.

I’ve been reading and watching a lot of videos about writing, getting tips, seeing how the minds of great authors work. I subscribed to MasterClass courses, and watched to lessons of people like Neil Gaiman, Shonda Rhimes, James Patterson and David Lynch. It helps. But at the same time, it made me raise my expectations about the game too much. Made me paralyze a bit. Now I feel like I can't write anything unless it feels AMAZING.

So the strategy I was using to write characters and dialogs was to first create a basic outline of each character. What are his main features? What stands out about them? What motivates them? What makes them interesting? I thought knowing those things beforehand, I could write better dialogs. That's what my MasterClass teachers told me anyway.
But defining upfront what’s interesting about each character proved to be more difficult than I thought. I froze.

Today I wanted to write the dialogs for the protagonist’s girlfriend, but I wasn’t sure what she should be like, how she should talk like. But I did have a very fragmented idea of a few things she should say at one specific moment. So I decided to skip the character outline part, and just write the dialog. And to my surprise, not only I was very happy with that dialog, but I got to know more about the character AFTER writing it. It’s like she revealed herself to me, and now I feel ready to dive into her other scenes.

Might not sound like much, but this inversion of steps – writing first, describing the character after - made a HUGE difference for me. Made me unfreeze, write more fluently, feel more satisfied about my project, and to become actually curious about what my characters are gonna say.



Doesn't mean I unfroze completely. I still procrastinate. Thus this blog.

Posts

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Cap_H
DIGITAL IDENTITY CRISIS
6578
This is a great point. There are many advices on writing, but the important thing to notice is that they can only help you sometimes. Writing a good piece of dialogue and developing a character off of that is more real imo. Usually you get someone else character o Motivation from a situation and if you can use this in your writing, it's great for you.
CashmereCat
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
10522
This is enlightening! I’ve heard someone’s technique is actually to write up a mock interview of sorts with this character, to help get a sense of them before writing. This won’t be in the game, but it’s merely asking your character questions and having a conversation with them so that their character can come out in an improvised fashion.

And much like most writing advice I hear, I should actually implement it myself ;)
author=CashmereCat
This is enlightening! I’ve heard someone’s technique is actually to write up a mock interview of sorts with this character, to help get a sense of them before writing. This won’t be in the game, but it’s merely asking your character questions and having a conversation with them so that their character can come out in an improvised fashion.

And much like most writing advice I hear, I should actually implement it myself ;)


That's an interesting strategy, and it sounds reasonable, but it has one important flaw: everyone sounds the same at interviews. Interview questions are mostly predictable, and so are the usual answers.

I would update that to, instead of interview, conflict situation. Writing a mock up scene of that character in a conflict situation: having a burglar enter his house, finding out that his mother is cheating on his father, having his same-sex best friend tell him he's in love with him, or any situation to which there's no obvious expected reaction. It feels like a better context to make a character show what's unique and interesting about him, what are his values, his morals, his priorities.

Looking back, that's kind of what I did, except it wasn't a mockup scene. The first dialog I wrote for the character was a conflict situation (which is not his first dialog ingame), and it made me easier for me to figure out the rest.
CashmereCat
Self-proclaimed Puzzle Snob
10522
That’s really good! And so true. Now I must write my game instead of continually doubting myself. Looking forward to Therapist very much!

Can’t wait for therapy.
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