Writing an engaging story where players can pick their own paths can be challenging. Here are 10 common tips we tell every writer to help make their story a hit!
- Write An Outline
Navigating choices and keeping the action moving and the player engaged is tough. Before you write your story, start with an outline of the entire thing. Know how it starts, how it ends, and what happens in between. Know what questions get answered in every episode and what stakes are at play. This will make writing the actual script easier.
- Pack In Romance & Drama
While working on the outline, fill it with as much romance and drama as you can. We find that these perform the best with our readers.
- Keep The Story Moving
With every line of dialogue, ask yourself “How does this help the story?” Does it help the reader understand a character? Does it add drama or romance? If you aren’t sure - CUT IT!
With each episode, make sure you are answering a question and asking a new one. Make readers always feel like they story is moving forward and they’ve learned something new, while being left with more unanswered questions. For example, don’t spend 20 episodes on a missing girl. Spend 5 episodes on her being missing, then find her but have a new question: why was she taken in the first place?
Readers get bored quickly, so cut filler and keep the story moving.
- Make Choices Matter
It’s important that players feel that their choices matter. There are 4 types of choices that are especially useful for this and 2 you should avoid:
- GOOD: Reactions
The player might discover a necklace has gone missing. The player could then decide if their character is happy or upset about this. It doesn’t change the story but helps them feel invested.
- GOOD: Identical Paths
Allow the player to chose to go to the mall OR to the park. Regardless of where they go, have them meet the same people. This feels meaningful, but doesn’t change your story.
- GOOD: Extra Information
Have a player ask a question or make a response that helps them get extra information that they may not need later, but makes them feel closer to the character who gave it.
- GOOD: Relationships
Create choices where how I respond to a player can create 3 different emotions. For example: Friendly, Silly, Cruel; or Kind, Sarcastic, Angry. This doesn’t change your story, but might change a couple things that character says to you.
- BAD: Contradictions
It’s awful to have a choice where you say “Don’t date” and then the character goes on a date. If you find you have to disagree with a choice a player made, it’s a bad choice.
- BAD: Complexity
Avoid choices that actually change your story drastically, unless it’s the end of the story. It’s difficult to write and often gets complicated and goes wrong.
- Avoid Exposition
I don’t want to have a character tell me about her day or her past, I want to see it. I don’t want a paragraph of backstory, I want to learn about it while I play. Integrate important information gradually into dialogue, don’t just write long paragraphs of information.
- Surprise Us!
Don’t write a new version of a girl going to college and learning about a mysterious benefactor, or a group of 3 high school girls becoming witches - tell us your own story! Be new and exciting, take risks, and have fun!