So you have your story, the setting and your characters. Want to go straight to the script?
No, we don’t do that! What I usually do is make a sequence guide.
The sequence treatment, as we call it, can guide you to scriptwriting. This also makes it easier to know where and when character sprites and the backgrounds show up. As well as what kind of music background should suit the atmosphere and when they should play.
In our college course, we are required to create a sequence treatment for our story. This usually is divided into two columns, the Audio and the Video, wherein in Video, we write what is seen on the screen (yes it has something to do with movies and TV shows), this includes things like the camera shots, who the character(s) is/are and what he’s/they’re doing while in the Audio, the background music and sound effects are written.
If you did a good sequence treatment, then you’re approved by your professor to to the next step: scriptwriting. If not, you have to revise the sequence treatment. You can know the story plot, characters, the backgrounds, the music… everything!!!! …. just by reading the sequence treatment.
In writing VNs, you don’t need to divide them into two columns. That’s just being way too formal. You can just scribble anything you have in mind. But make sure that you don’t forget to write the setting, the characters and their actions, and the music and SFX. If you like, you can have bits of dialogue here and there so you’ll not forget about it later.
My example for what I did in Raven:
“Background: Living room.
Music: Porch Swing Days by Kevin MacLeod
Raven, a black bird, waits in his cage to be fed by his master. The clock says it’s 6 am. After a while, Mica shows up and gives him his food. Mica says she’ll be late because she has a date with Jonas that night. She cries, telling Raven about her boyfriend being too busy and she wants their relationship to work. Raven sings her a song. (Stopping music, playing a sad song). Mica cheers up after that and went out for her date.”
Usually, you introduce another sequence of event when a scene/act is done in a certain place. Say, the character is on the house. That’s sequence treatment 1. When he goes to school, that’s sequence treatment 2.
But in making VNs, you should consider the menu options. Since menu choices can diverge into branches, it’s a little bit difficult to create a sequence treatment with two or more endings. For example:
Sequence treatment 2:
Background: Dining Area
Music: Organic Grunge by Kevin MacLeod
Jonas shows up. He says harsh things to Mica about the freeloader. He then quits the topic, changing it to steaks. Raven was enraged. He eats all steaks. (Insert CG here) Jonas orders Mica to buy steaks. When Mica went out to buy ingredients, Jonas tells Raven to quit pursuing Mica.
Jonas: “She’s my slave. She’s in love with me. You can’t do anything about that.”
“PUNCH HIM” (raven will be asked about reason why he punched Jonas. “About Photo” – he’ll be framed or “About Steak” – plus points to Mica leading to ending 2)
“THREATEN HIM” (plus points to Raven or Jonas, can lead to endings 1, 3 and 4)
If we’re making a kinetic novel, it’ll be easier. But in Visual Novel, we need to provide different endings to the readers. You have to plan how readers shall get to the endings by choosing the right choices. I don’t really have a guide about making different endings for your game. If you want to include a bad ending, then it’s okay. There’s no rule that every VN should have a bad ending. It all has to do something with your ideas.
Usually, I make the true ending first. Let’s just say that we need to forget about the different endings. Let’s just write a story with just one path. That’s the true ending. After achieving one ending, then it’s time to make another one. Do some brainstorming. Do I want an ending where no one’s happy? Take a look at your true ending. Who are the characters that wasn’t given a good ending? Make your characters satisfied by making a good ending for them. Whatever. It’s up to you.
You might wonder why we should make a guide when we can actually start working on the script. It’s up to you. Really. But I’m just sharing what I do when creating Visual Novels.
In creating your sequence treatment, you’re also doing some brainstorming. Thinking of a story concept can be easy. You just need to think what your visual novel is all about. But the events that will happen throughout the story can be difficult to write. How will the story progress? What’s my introduction? My ending?
You might also think that you can just create the story’s events along with writing the script. That works, too. But I want to take it step by step, since it’s safer to make a draft first before the final thing. We also need a guide to save more time. Pour out all ideas first, then make your dialogues out of it.
After making a guide, it’s time for the script. It might take a lot of explanation, since script is done alongside with coding. And I must admit that I’m not very good with coding myself! But this is the whole point of this blog. I’ll write all the things I learned.
Well then. That’s another week for us to discuss that.