Sunday, July 03, 2011

One cute sheep to go, please!

When I first began writing for a living almost fifteen years ago, I believed that every story I told had to start with the plot first and then the characters. I felt that I had to know the story I was going to write before I wrote it. Now, things are completely different for me. I write in a very different manner.

I usually start out with thinking, "What topic do I want to explore?"

The way I came up with the idea for my book was that I sat around thinking, "Wouldn't it be cool if there was some way for me to get two pantheons to duke it out? I'd love to see the Norse gods fighting the Greek gods or the Egyptian gods fighting archangels."

That's how the story of Age of Immortality came to be. That's all I started with. I didn't know a single character. I had no plot. I just had an interest in a situation, and my next step was to fill in the details.

I decided which pantheon I wanted to start with. Then I figured out how my character actually met those gods, and then I began figuring out the details of my actual characters. I wrote about 8 chapters before I decided I needed to be more organized with my characters, so then I sat down with some note cards and wrote out all their major quirks and personality traits. Then I went back to writing.

I have used this same tactic in game design. While I was at GDC Online, I was playing with my husband's Android. He had some game on there with a bouncy cow that was trying to get up to an alien ship. The game play was very much unappealing to me, but the cow... boy, I really loved that cute little cow. So, I told my husband that I was determined to make a game about sheep. That's all I started with. By the end of GDC, I had most of the game design banged out. I did a lot of it during Raph Koster's talk. (He was great!) I was told afterwards that the girl sitting behind me and to my right was a writer from, and she had spent half the talk trying to read my notes. I can't talk too much about the game yet, but the point is that I started with "I want to make a game about sheep."

P.S. The sheep pictured above is a screenshot from ATITD, not from my sheep game. My sheep are much cuter!


Diane Carlisle said...

Loving the Logo!

The way I used to think about starting a story was thinking up an interesting character and coming up with an amazing first paragraph. From there would fly the questions! Who is this person, why are they telling me this and what are they wanting to say further?

If inspiration came to me, I wrote. If it didn't, I broke away from the keyboard. Sad to say, this style does nothing for me in the long term, because all I can come away with are short stories.

Good luck with your sheep game. I want a complimentary copy! j/k

Pang said...

A completed short story is very valuable as well. I don't have either, so my way works best only for the very short story design for video games.


Deborah MacArthur said...

I have wonderful ideas, at the start. I get all pumped and I write and I write and I write more and I love it and then I can't seem to end it and I start reading it from the beginning and end up re-writing stuff and flying off in different directions and loving it and by then I REALLY don't have a way to end the mess.
Then I start something new...

This leaves me with dozens of unfinished works, all of which I have loved writing but bring me no income. sigh.

Morgan said...

There is a fabulous story called 'Tales of the bard' which is in three parts. It concerns a champion of the old gods who must help reignite people faith in the old pantheon before the new pantheon of gods takes over. Its very deep and fantastically written all based on the premis that 'Faith lends substance'

Tales of the Bard 1: Magician's Law (1987) ISBN 0722177755; ISBN 978-0722177754
Tales of the Bard 2: Demon's Law (1988) ISBN 0722177763; ISBN 978-0722177761
Tales of the Bard 3: Death's Law (1989) ISBN 0722177771; ISBN 978-0722177778