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Random Writing Advice

2 years ago
Commended by EndMaster on 4/25/2019 9:18:17 AM

So I was advising someone awhile back with their story, but I figure some of this stuff might come in handy for people in general use.

Not sure if you were still working on this but here’s another bit with writing stuff you were asking about.

I know there's some debate over this with some, but I feel it’s better to have a "dead end" choice as the other option rather than just have 1 choice. Hell, even if its just a "background link" that loops back is better since you're at least still providing some info.

Which brings me to:

Make sure you don’t have too many “1 choice pages” strung together since that really makes the story seem linear. You can get away with about 2 in a row, especially if they’re really long pages, but the more 1 choice pages you have tied together one right after another, the less it feels like a CYOA.

I mean its frowned upon, but I've seen a lot of people do it anyway (Including some of the more prominent writers here). I tend to mark off for it in contests. Digit's story for example would have gotten a bit higher from me had he made a less linear story.

The key thing with it, is to not do it too much in a row.

If you did this:

1 choice
2 choice
1
1
2

Then it probably won't be that bad, but if you did this:

1
2
1
1
1
1
2

Then it starts pushing it. Especially if your "two choices" just loop to something else that is also 1 choice.

Generally I wouldn't string more than 3 "1 choice" pages in a row. That's including if you're using the "history/background choices" which technically aren't really proper choices, they're just info links.

If you can't think of a good branching plotline to take the story in a different direction (Or just don't want to for whatever reason), you've got two other techniques. Death choice and Fake choice.

Obviously, I'm a lot more fond of death choices to solve the issue. This is where out of the 2 (or more choices) only one is the correct one and all others end the story.

I'm calling it a "death choice" but it doesn't necessarily have to kill the protagonist. It doesn't even have to be a "bad ending." It just leads to a situation that takes the story out of the scope of what you want to write about so you end it.

For example, there were a lot of premature endings in Innkeeper where the protagonist doesn't die, but the story ends since he wasn't working at an inn anymore. The focus of the story was working at an inn, no reason to continue the story if he isn't.

The second choice or the "Bioware approach" as I sometimes call it, is fake choices. This is where you provide say 3 choices, but ALL of them are more or less going to lead to the same outcome, just the text/dialog is going to be a little different.

Personally I don't like using this one too much, but it's probably more popular in general since nowadays most people don't like killing off the protagonist based on making the wrong choice.

Fake choices usually will eventually connect to the main story branch again depending on how complex you want to make them.

The simplest is in the above example of where I said the different choice provided leads immediately to the same outcome just with different text/dialogue.

A more complex example is where it genuinely branches off and might have mildly different events, but then two or three pages later, it reconnects with the main path. The more complex you do it however, and the less of a "fake choice" it actually is and then it becomes an "alternative path."

An example of a fake choice that I've done:

In TRASH at the very beginning, you get four choices and ALL of them lead to a page with different text, but will have the choice to loop to the page where you need to go find a job. (Which is more or less the focus of the story)

A more complex version which is what I would call an alternative path would be stuff I did a few times in Legend.

Like when you leave your small town to go to Holgard, there are three paths (forest, plains, valley) and while all of them will eventually reconnect to where you get to Holgard, they are all different enough that it really isn't a fake choice.

Anyway, use which ever ones you feel work best for your story.



Okay, dialogue.

Now this is the way I generally do it. I tend to identify who is initially speaking within the first exchange and then don’t bother with the rest since it can be assumed that the dialogue is going back and forth.

Example of two people:

“Hello Semra. How are your classes going today?” you ask.
“Oh hey. My classes are going well. I have to do a group project for Torture 301. Ugh, I hate group projects, especially since they paired me up with idiots.” Semra replies.
“Yeah, me too. I end up usually doing most of the work. I had Giant Combat 101 last year and I got put in a group of six and really only one other guy helped me bring down a sandworm. Rest of that year went pretty much the same way.” (At this point I don’t need to say “you say” since you know its the protagonist)
“That sucks. Teamwork is overrated.” (Again, don’t need to put “Semra said” since she’s the only other one there to talk back)
“You got that right.”

And so on.

Now if you have more than two and at time, you’ll have to identify them when speaking more often otherwise the dialogue can get confusing.

Example of three people:

“Semra, do you want to go to the high school dance with me?” you ask hopefully.
“Uh well…” Serma says a little off guard.
“What? But…I though we were making a connection? Was I wrong?”
“No, you weren’t wrong. I mean I really like you, but…”
“But what?”
“She’s going with me asshole!” Edgar suddenly says and boldly puts his arm around Semra’s waist. (Since I introduced a new person in the conversation, that’s where I identified them and in the following exchanges I identify who is speaking all over again)
“Edgar, I didn’t say I was going with you, get off of me!” Semra replies, pushing Edgar away.
“Hey! Keep your hands to yourself, you ginger fuckhead.” you say starting to get angry.
“Maybe I should put my hands around your neck instead.” Edgar threatens.

Now I don’t know exactly how much dialog exchanges you’re going to have. As you might know I tend to write A LOT. So much so that I often feel the need to break up the dialog at least with some minor actions of some sort, otherwise it just looks like gigantic blocks of dialog (Granted, I still tend to have that anyway, but I try to make them at least a little smaller)

So let’s take both of those dialogue blocks and put them together, but with examples of breaking them up.

“Hello Semra. How are your classes going today?” you ask.
“Oh hey. My classes are going well. I have to do a group project for Torture 301. Ugh, I hate group projects, especially since they paired me up with idiots.” Semra replies.
“Yeah, me too. I end up usually doing most of the work. I had Giant Combat 101 last year and I got put in a group of six and really only one other guy helped me bring down a sandworm. Rest of that year went pretty much the same way.”
“That sucks. Teamwork is overrated.”

You look at Semra in her uniform and you’ve never been so turned on. Something about her today is just calling to you. You’ve always got along with her and she’s always been friendly. You HAVE to ask her, today is the day and its now or never!

“Semra, do you want to go to the school dance with me?” you ask hopefully.
“Uh well…” Serma says a little off guard.
“What? But…I though we were making a connection? Was I wrong?”
“No, you weren’t wrong. I mean I really like you, but…”
“But what?”
“She’s going with me asshole!” Edgar suddenly says and boldly puts his arm around Semra’s waist.
“Edgar, I didn’t say I was going with you, get off of me!” Semra replies, pushing Edgar away.
“Hey! Keep your hands to yourself, you ginger fuckhead.” you say starting to get angry.
“Maybe I should put my hands around your neck instead.” Edgar threatens.

Without another word you punch Edgar in his face causing him to fall to the floor at which point you proceed to kick him. This naturally draws a crowd of onlookers in the hallway. However Semra stops you when it’s obvious that Edgar is unconscious.

“Please stop! Don’t fight over me! I can’t go because my father won’t let me. He’s really strict about letting me go anywhere, I’m so sorry.” Semra says to you directly and runs away.

You’re about to go after her when all of a sudden you feel a strong grip on the back your neck. You know immediately it’s Mr. Gruz.

“Alright, everyone break it up, nothing more to see here. And someone carry Edgar to the nurse’s office. As for you young man, I’ve had enough of your insubordination. You’re off to the Emperor’s office!” Mr. Gruz remarks and begins marching you towards that destination.

It’s going to be one of those days…


Well in any case, I hope this gives you a bit of a better idea of how dialog can be set up.

Random Writing Advice

2 years ago
hmm damn I wonder why it is so many people struggle with punctuating dialogue correctly on this si--

“Oh hey. My classes are going well. I have to do a group project for Torture 301. Ugh, I hate group projects, especially since they paired me up with idiots.” Semra replies.

“Hey! Keep your hands to yourself, you ginger fuckhead.” you say starting to get angry.

“Maybe I should put my hands around your neck instead.” Edgar threatens.

Endmaster, it was you! They learned it from you!

Random Writing Advice

2 years ago
Scandalous!

Random Writing Advice

2 years ago

You're an inspiration! Sometimes one doesn't even have to worry about all of the little nuances of written dialogue to be a prolific writer, right? 

I don't think I'll be changing any of the commas I have so far into periods, though. However I'll just try and keep your style into memory for any other potential storygame.

Random Writing Advice

2 years ago

"You're an inspiration! Sometimes one doesn't even have to worry about all of the little nuances of written dialogue to be a prolific writer, right?"

I know right?

However, here's the Villain Lair lulz for this little incident.

Bucky
End, write me a line of dialogue with attribution right now.

EndMaster
What's going on with dialogue punctuation

→ Chris has joined

Bucky
You fucked it up.

Chris
thanks

EndMaster
How did I fuck it up

unless you're talking to Chris

Bucky
“Hey! Keep your hands to yourself, you ginger fuckhead.” you say starting to get angry.

Chris
I doubt it lol, I just came in and he said that

Bucky
comma, comma, comma!

EndMaster
where does it need a comma?

Chris
after ginger fuckhead I'm guessing

Bucky
Instead of the period!

EndMaster
Since when?

Bucky
Since always!

EndMaster
I've never heard of that

Bucky
You use a comma, not a period if you're attributing dialogue.

Exclamation and question marks are how you did them.

EndMaster
First I'm hearing of it

Bucky
This amazes me.

EndMaster
Well no point in changing now

Bucky
http://theeditorsblog.net/2010/12/08/punctuation-in-dialogue/

Send you back to remedial.

EndMaster
Meh, oh well.

Bucky
lol

Mizal, are you as fascinated by this as me?

I never noticed before.

Must have been distracted by the story.

EndMaster
Malk said something about it like a few weeks ago, and I didn't know what the hell he was talking about at the time either

Mizal
A-aren't you a librarian? Open a book lol

EndMaster
lol

Bucky
lol

Great, we found his weakness and all we did was make him stronger.

What have we done!?

Mizal
Well the thread is a good place to put my usual lecture on the subject and just loom it from now on so I don't have to repeat myself anyway

EndMaster
But the weirder thing is you would have thought SOMEONE that might have been slamming my story for whatever reason would have pointed this out by now

Mizal
*just link it

EndMaster
Like this is never a criticism that has ever come up

like typos and run on sentences, that's popped up, but this hasn't

Bucky
Well, I've never really noticed until Mizal pointed it out.

And I usually pick up on fucked up dialogue attribution.

EndMaster
So obviously it doesn't fucking matter

And I'll just continue on lol

Mizal
Because most people commenting are retards most likely. And I wouldn't point out minor details on a billion word story that isn't being edited anyhow

Bucky
This is that Detroit heritage springing up.

EndMaster
I was born a poor black child, what the hell do you want

Random Writing Advice

2 years ago

"It wasn't your fault that you were born a poor black child," Thara said with a crestfallen expression. 

Random Writing Advice

2 years ago
Commended by EndMaster on 3/6/2018 9:34:39 PM
This is something I wind up repeating a lot because EVERYONE gets it wrong, so I guess I'll put it here and just save myself some trouble by linking it in the future:

“Oh hey. My classes are going well. I have to do a group project for Torture 301. Ugh, I hate group projects, especially since they paired me up with idiots.” Semra replies.

Should be:
“Oh hey. My classes are going well. I have to do a group project for Torture 301. Ugh, I hate group projects, especially since they paired me up with idiots,” Semra replies.

See also:

“Hey! Keep your hands to yourself, you ginger fuckhead,” you say starting to get angry.

“Maybe I should put my hands around your neck instead,” Edgar threatens.


The dialogue tag is part of the same sentence as the words. (This is also why the 'you say' is lower cased.) You don't use a period twice in the same sentence, so, when the character stops speaking you put a comma inside the quotation instead and then go on to complete the sentence with the attribution.

Sentences ending in exclamation marks and question marks still stay the same, don't worry about those. (Just remember the tag should still be lower cased, but those parts are correct in the OP.)

Exceptions are when the tag isn't something like 'you say' or 'he says' but instead something that can work as a sentence in its own right.

Edgar suddenly says and boldly puts his arm around Semra’s waist. --Not a sentence.

Edgar boldly puts his arm around Semra’s waist. -- Perfectly good sentence and it'd still be obvious he was the one speaking.

Random Writing Advice

one year ago

@Gower may be amused by the exchange on this thread or just shake his head (Or both)

Random Writing Advice

one year ago

How badly do I want to just cut and paste this exchange directly into my syllabi?

Random Writing Advice

one year ago
I'm just glad there's an article to point to now. It was something I'd thought about doing a few times but I never knew how to actually explain it beyond giving examples. My explanation post up there is even less clear than I remembered, and the 'If the dialogue tag can work as a sentence on its own, it's fine to use period/uppercase' that I came up with as a rule I realized later doesn't always apply. ( 'you say' is not a sentence, but 'You laugh.' or 'You shout.' are, while both need to be lowercased if used dialogue tags and...ugh. Yeah, glad we have that article.)

And I still miss how easy it was to copy and paste logs from the IRC. With Discord all you can do is a massive series of screenshots that then need to be resized and uploaded somewhere.