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Thread: Scriptwriting advice?

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    chairpersonality Holon's Avatar
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    Default Scriptwriting advice?

    Hi folks,

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screen...d.27s_Paradigm

    I'm researching scriptwriting for a videogame I'm making with some friends. It's to be a story-telling puzzler (like Live-a-Live, if you've ever had the pleasure of experiencing the game).

    I'd like people's opinions on structuring narratives. The Paradigm, linked above, seems too dry to me. Yet, I'm not at all familiar with how narratives might be structured. I would love people to share their opinion on different structures, or lacks of them.

    Sorry for the vagueness. I'm still spinning the game together as a creative whole in my mind at this stage

    Cheers,
    Sand

    scribbles in the dark

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    Exits, pursued by a bear. Animal's Avatar
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    This may not apply as much to a videogame script, but one thing that has helped me doing film and stage scripts is to first write a preliminary draft and then "workshop" it -- this is, get a group of actors/voice artists/creative folk together to do a reading of the thing. Assign each person a role to play so they can get into character and offer their perspective on what feels right for this character to say, whether their motivations make sense, and whether the narrative might go in a different direction. As the writer, take notes on everything. You don't have to use every suggestion, but simply make a note ofit for pondering on later.
    "How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love."
    -- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

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    chairpersonality Holon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Animal View Post
    first write a preliminary draft
    The rest of your post is good material, and I appreciate it. The problem is, though, in writing this "preliminary draft". The creative juices aren't flowing so well, and I'm not sure if it's because I lack structure, inspiration, or what. What I need help with right now is where to conjure material from, how to relate to the creative process, etc, etc, so that I can flesh my plot and ideas out.

    scribbles in the dark

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    Quote Originally Posted by A Grain of a Song of Sand View Post
    The rest of your post is good material, and I appreciate it. The problem is, though, in writing this "preliminary draft". The creative juices aren't flowing so well, and I'm not sure if it's because I lack structure, inspiration, or what. What I need help with right now is where to conjure material from, how to relate to the creative process, etc, etc, so that I can flesh my plot and ideas out.
    Ah, well, the first thing I would say is "start anywhere." Anything you have at this moment, a fleeting image, a word, a sentence, a name, etc. can become the seed out of which a story can grow. If you don't have even that, go here or any other news site (or make your way to tumblr) and pick a seed: a location, a name, a face or photograph, or even the skeleton of a story.

    Then, take this seed to what songwriter Pat Pattison calls your "six best friends." These are: who? what? when? where? how? and why? Start with the question that seems the most relevant to your seed. If you chose a face in a photograph, ask who this person is. Then you can start building more detail around this figure: where they live, what their personality is like, what they are doing and why they're doing it, etc. If you chose a location, ask yourself what language is spoken there, what religion is practiced there, what sort of buildings (shops, restaurants, churches, hotels, etc.) one would find there, and eventually... what sort of person might be living in a neighborhood of that place. Free association can help with this phase. Just take a pen and paper (or open up a word processor) and write/type whatever comes into mind in association with your seed. You might be surprised at what you find.

    You can then start building progressively more detail using the other question words. Don't stop until you have at least a small answer to all six questions. Usually the names, faces, and locations will emerge first; then the bare bones of the story; and then finally the dialogue and micro-level actions.
    "How could we forget those ancient myths that stand at the beginning of all races, the myths about dragons that at the last moment are transformed into princesses? Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love."
    -- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

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    As a starting point to get the juices flowing try "morning pages". Every morning - as soon as you wake - write 3 pages. Don't think about what you write and don't give time to pause. Whatever your train of thought is, just get it down - even if it is boring whiney crap about how you're tired, don't want to go to work, what you want for breakfast, etc. The discipline helps you overrule the inner critic that blocks creativity + also clears chattery inner monologue for better ideas throughout the day. The important thing is just getting words on a page, it doesn't matter if they suck balls at this stage.

    With the rest I can't really help because my narratives are usually come from the starting point of characterisation.

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    I find this thread so cheesy and hilarious and I..... live with a novelist.

    It reminds me the ridiculous "exercises" I used to watch actors do when I was a kid.

    I will offer one piece advice though: don't start from the beginning. Sure -- you can write that way, however too many people get saddled with this odd notion that they need to. Write a scene that really interests and and build on that. It's the easiest way to get started. Also: push through. Don't think about whether it's bad or not. The first draft is GOING TO BE BAD. Write it anyway.
    "[Scapegrace,] I don't know how anyone can stand such a sinister and mean individual as you." - Maritsa Darmandzhyan

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    Quote Originally Posted by A Grain of a Song of Sand View Post
    Yet, I'm not at all familiar with how narratives might be structured. I would love people to share their opinion on different structures, or lacks of them.
    Beginning.

    Middle.

    End.

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    It's your baby, you structure it in your own way.

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    different format, but could't hurt: The 10 Commandments of Comic Book writing by Chuck Dixon

    avoid flowery prose. nice for novels, useless for screenplays.

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    It's for a game, and the game is supposed to be fun, right? Imagine yourself playing the game, what kind of challenges and storylines would you enjoy and find interesting? I read once that the main job of any fiction writer is to make life difficult for their main character and see how the character gets out of it. That would seem to especially apply in a game.

    Problem with me giving any kind of advice though is that I don't write fiction. I've tried novel-writing several times, but I think the most I ever got was 60 pgs of utter crap that I had to force myself through. I can sit down and dash off short stories, but the majority of the readers I throw them to say, "This should be a novel," and well - fuck that lol. So, I've read a lot of advice, and different ways of structuring, and tried to follow it, and the main conclusion I've come to is that none of it matters if you don't want to write it. If you're not so interested in your character and what's going to happen to them next that you can't wait to write it down - exactly how interested is anyone else going to be to read it? I don't know. I know the whole writing process isn't all fun and games, but you should at least be excited to tell the story, no?

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    Great thread guys
    @squirreltual the idea of brain dumping is something I've come across before. I don't know why I didn't think to try it. I suppose because this is a brave new world for me, though one I've been meaning to make an adventure of for some time. Feels Gutmann.
    @Scapegrace I don't have problems with random scenes, scenarios, monologues, general plans. Fitting things together into a cohesive work is challenging for me though, mostly, I suspect, because I lack (I think) method or inspiration. Maybe it's better to stitch up a quilt than try and construct something complete from scratch?
    @squark, I actually have most of the game part of things down (but not coded...) I also have a bigger problem in that my story is designed to be bleak. I need to get readers to care about the characters and think that things will turn out okay. Then I need to figure out a good way of ending the story that doesn't feel cheap, rushed, or forced. It's not going to be happy. I want people to drink their beverage of choice the next morning and taste nothing. I guess the scale of game I'm thinking of won't be able to pull that off. Oh well.

    scribbles in the dark

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    ... I'm not that good with any hard and fast rules of writing, because there isn't any. I will just share what I learned over the years and what worked for me.

    1. If it isn't interesting to you, it won't be interesting to any other people. Impress yourself, and you'll impress other people.

    2. Show don't tell. But don't over-show... don't need a long description of a living room unless it's really necessary for the plot.

    3. Be pithy. Witty/biting dialogue attracts people more than something dry and boring.

    4. It's fun to break the 4th wall/use comic relief but at the same time, what a wise Jew Sage told me once, is that ultimately people want to believe in the validity of your world. They want to believe that such a place could actually exist, and if you're always trolling the audience... they can't do that. So, allow people to believe that what you're doing has integrity.

    5. Avoid Mary Sues, but at the same time- it's only natural to have more likeable characters than others. Honestly it's a depressive-fest (to me anyway) if you don't have a moral foundation in a story, if everybody is gray- while that might be 'realistic' it's also not very inspiring. So make all your characters have flaws, but also understand that you don't avoid cliches by going too much in the other direction. Writing is an art. You can abuse 'show don't tell' just as easily as you can abuse 'tell don't show.'

    6. Tempo and timing is very important in writing. The big reveal should feel earned. So avoid going too fast or too slow. The rhythm/pacing is something you'll learn as you go along, and it will also tell everybody how good the original idea was in the first place.

    7. I can't think of any more. Just... have fun and work hard at the same time. That's the key of success in so much in life. Work hard, but have fun working hard.. don't avoid good old-fashioned hard work, lots of stories are brilliant not because the writer had this natural gift, but because they put a lot of effort into it.

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    Fitting things together into a cohesive work is challenging for me though, mostly, I suspect, because I lack (I think) method or inspiration. Maybe it's better to stitch up a quilt than try and construct something complete from scratch?


    Well I'm interested in what you can come up with, because you were interested in 16types adventures and I suppose it's selfish of me to think of it that way but yeah, I am really curious/genuinely interested in what you can concoct myself because you were into my silly little adventures story. =D

    I think another good point is to have other people understand it but at the same time don't ever be afraid to add your own personal touch. It's YOUR story, so tell it with honesty and integrity. We want to hear your voice, not somebody else's. Your own unique gu- I mean grain of song of sand voice. =p

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