Hello everybody! Hope you had a fantastic weekend. Play any good games? I did! I went ahead and tried out one of the horror games I listed on last Friday’s blog–The Evil Within 2. It is fantastic so far. The storyline really pulls me in. The character premises don’t hurt either. That is why today I want to talk to you about how to create a plot and character for your own video game.
Now, the method I’m sharing with you is called the Snowflake Method and was initially used for novel writing. It’s tried and true! It makes an often confusing start into a simple, well-structured plan that leads you down the path of a full plot and complete characters.
Okay, so what is the snowflake method? Well, it was created by Randy Ingermanson, who has come out with many books about this approach, including a book for the classic “For Dummies” series. It is Writing Fiction For Dummies, for those interested. Now, there are many ways to approach a story, but many people (including myself) swear by the snowflake method. The base concept is to start small and build up. As if you are creating a snowflake, beginning with a tiny primary shape and building on it to make it bigger and more complex–as well as making it beautiful and unique, right?
IMAGE FROM THE NAKED SPEAKER
What really makes this method great is it doesn’t start with chapter outlines. It begins much more straightforward than that so that when you are finally faced with writing out the first part of your video game’s story, you’ll know exactly what to put down.
Step 1. Write a single sentence description of the story
That’s right, one sentence–with preferable only fifteen words or less. Think of the overall story, but don’t forget the personal journey of your main character. This step forces you to put your thinking cap on and realize what the most critical parts of your story are.
What is also important about this step is that you are going to have to sell your story to others at some point. Whether you are trying to get companies to buy your video game or trying to sell it to potential players. Having a good, single sentence description of the story will be very useful.
IMAGE FROM SHE WRITES
Step 2. Write a paragraph description of the story
Time to expand that single sentence to a full paragraph. Five sentences are best. The first sentence will give the setup. The next three sentences will be for describing the central conflicts of the story. Three sentences, three conflicts/disasters. Lastly, the final and fifth sentence is for the ending.
This is yet another very great thing to have when it comes to pitching your game. Sometimes you can only give a sentence, sometimes you need a whole paragraph. After finishing this step, you have both and could pitch your story to anyone who wants to listen.
Step 3. Write a one page summary for each character
Character time! I find starting with your principal, main character the best way to go. That’s because you probably already have an idea about your main character but might not have even thought of many other characters. Flushing out the main character helps you realize what other characters are needed.
Now, this one page summary of your character has a guided structure so you aren’t just floundering around.
- The character’s name
- A one-sentence summary of the character’s storyline
- The character’s motivation. (This is something abstract, like wanting to be stronger)
- The character’s goal. (The goal is concrete/physical, like saving the princess)
- The character’s conflict (What’s preventing them from reaching their goal, like a giant turtle-ox)
- The character’s epiphany (What they learn, and how they change)
- A one-paragraph summary of the character’s storyline
Let me go ahead and tell you know, it’s okay that if it isn’t perfect. Also, it is also super okay to go back and change things in previous steps. It’s a process and changing things are likely.
IMAGE FROM PLAYBUZZ
Step 4. Expand the paragraph description of the story
Take each sentence from your paragraph description and flush it out into its own paragraph. That means if you started with a five-sentence paragraph, you would now have five paragraphs. One paragraph setting up the story, three paragraphs about different conflicts or disasters, and one paragraph about the ending/resolution.
Step 5. Write the narrative from each character’s point of view
These character synopses should be about a page each. This is the time to really explore each character and let them tell their own story and develop their own voice.
Step 6. Expand the one-page story outline to several pages
This step is nearly identical to step four. Except instead of taking a sentence and expanding it into a paragraph, you are taking a paragraph and developing it into a page. Assuming you have five paragraphs, and the end of this step you will have five pages.
IMAGE FROM 8TRACKS
Step 7. Create character charts
Going back to the characters for this step. Take what you have already written about each character and expand it to include all of their details. Birthdate, life history, and all the things you talked about in step three. Have a lot of fun, this is the step where you really get to know your characters.
Step 8. Create each scene
Take your multiple page story outline and create all the scenes that get you from point A (the beginning) to point B (the end). Some people like using a spreadsheet for this step. In each row have a scene, and in each scene’s columns fill out the details. That means, describing what happens, what character is featured, and any other central details you want to add.
IMAGE FROM BLONDE LOGIC
Step 9. Time to write the first draft!
You’ve got all the details, each scene is already there, it’s time to finish out all the details! This is where you can add dialogue and detail the cutscenes fully for your video game.
Remember to have fun throughout this whole process. Take as much time as you need for each step, this isn’t meant to be a single day activity. I like assigning one step for one day in the beginning and then one step a week.