Tuesday, January 17, 2017

What’s the difference? Story writing verse Hellenica writing.

Salutations! So I’m Siobhan Gallagher(posting from Victor's account), co-writer and editor for Hellenica. This was my first time writing for a game; normally, I write short stories for online and print magazines. And yeah, there are quite a few differences in technique and style, as well as challenges.

For a branching story, you will meet the same characters in different locations at different times, which means some characters will need multiple introductions, and those introductions will vary depending on whether you talked with that character a lot, a little bit, or not at all. As you can imagine, this is a lot of extra writing for just one set of dialogue. For example, you can meet Brasidas as a forlorn-looking Spartan in Rhodes, or trying to buy a train ticket with iron bars in the Acropolis, or as a turtle on the Isle of Circe.

Meeting Brasidas in the Acropolis
Meeting Brasidas at the Isle of Circe
Since there's a plethora of paths leading into a scene, story-related issues crop up. On the one hand, we wanted every choice to have meaningful impact, where the player traveled would effect the layout of the story. On the other hand, the player may miss vital plots points, which would make the entire story less coherent.  One solution to this is to have rumors. It's easy to have a town gossip kick off a conversation about an event outside the player’s path, which informs the characters and can even influence future choices.

You could liken it to building a structure with blocks, where everything has to fit together (or it falls over), but some blocks are interchangeable. Whereas a linear story is more like working with clay, there’s more flexibility in how you might shape it, but still requires discipline--or you wind up with a lousy pot.

If you like science fiction and fantasy stories full of adventure, weirdness, fun or dark (or both!), check out my bibliography--some of these publications are free to read online.

"Lessons in Blade and Barrier" (found in the link above)

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