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December 4 - Everyone ready for the Friday Highlight? It's ready for you here.

The Art of Sims Storytelling

MedleyMistyMedleyMisty Posts: 1,188 Member
Hi guys!

@CathyTea and I were talking, and we thought we'd try making a thread that would be focused solely on writing, especially Sims story writing. The writers' lounge thread is great for being a lounge, but a separate space for more in-depth discussions with a slower pace and less immediate burying of posts could be good too. :)

I'm not good at making lists and rules, but here are some suggestions for things to talk about here:
  • the process of writing Sims stories
  • the Sims story community
  • how Sims literature fits into the greater literature community
  • how we use the game as a medium for storytelling
  • the imagery and themes in our work, and also possibly how they are influenced by the game
  • what it means to be a reader of Sims literature
  • the expectations or lack thereof that we have of Sims stories
  • the history of Sims storytelling and all the genres and their relationships to each other
  • and really just anything else you can think of that has to do with writing and reading and community and art and literature

I want to emphasize that this thread is open to everyone, no matter what and how you write.

I've learned in the last few years that sometimes stuff like this can intimidate people, but we are definitely not trying to be elitist or pretentious or intimidating or anything here. Everyone is welcome, and everyone, from people who just read Sims stories to people who write commentary legacies to people who write hardcore Simlit, has something to contribute.

I hope we have fun here! :)
Sometimes the darkness and I tell stories.

Comments

  • MedleyMistyMedleyMisty Posts: 1,188 Member
    Okay, to start us off:

    I noticed this bit in the Q & A about Dust to Dust - I hope you don't mind me using this, @CitizenErased14. ;)
    The biggest change I would make is to re-write my first 10-15 chapters and make them longer and more detailed. When I started writing this, I kind of "held back" on my writing, if that makes any sense? Like, I intentionally kept my chapters around 500 words or so, didn't do as much description, etc. And honestly, it was kinda because I was like "This is how SimLit is supposed to be, and people reading this will not want to read anything too long or wordy". Then somehow between chapters 15-20, I just got so invested in the story that I didn't even care anymore, and stopped holding back :lol:

    So here are some questions that we could begin with:

    Do you have any preconceptions about how SimLit is supposed to be? Or did you used to have some, but you've grown past them as you've read and written more Sims stories?

    If you did have any preconceptions, how did they affect your writing and reading?

    Are there any stories in particular that made you realize that Sims stories could be more than what you thought they could be?
    Sometimes the darkness and I tell stories.
  • CitizenErased14CitizenErased14 Posts: 12,172 Member
    Hahaha I don't mind at all, @MedleyMisty ! I like that the comment inspired you to start a discussion :)

    I sorta-kinda already answered in my original comment, didn't I? But I can throw in another comment or two!

    Do you have any preconceptions about how SimLit is supposed to be? Or did you used to have some, but you've grown past them as you've read and written more Sims stories?
    Yes, for sure! Honestly, when I started writing Dust to Dust, I thought it was weird to have a plot-driven Sims Story. All I'd seen were challenges and legacies (Note: I love challenges and legacies! I'm just saying that I thought that was ALL there was to SimLit at first :) ), so I felt nervous about sharing mine.

    Then I saw @Rorygilmore34 's story Legacies of The Sims. And, despite the title (lol!) it's NOT a legacy. It's a story-driven SimLit that is very dramatic and oh-so awesome! So that was my first indication that what I wanted to do was "okay".

    From there, I got the courage to post my plot-driven story. But I was still nervous about making long and detailed chapters (as I mentioned in my original comment!) because it just felt like people wouldn't like reading it. I'm glad I was wrong! :)

    If you did have any preconceptions, how did they affect your writing and reading?
    See my original comment for this answer :lol:

    Are there any stories in particular that made you realize that Sims stories could be more than what you thought they could be?
    I confess to not having all THAT many stories I've read (Writing took up SO much of my time!) but I plan on branching out a lot more so I feel like I don't have a great answer for this one haha. Rory's was certainly the first one that helped me change my perspective though! :) And a lot of the really beautiful/deep/thought-provoking short stories written for the short story challenges have really opened my eyes to the possibilities of SimLit as well!
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  • InfraGreenInfraGreen Posts: 6,350 Member
    I think I have a way of conflating how something is supposed to be with my personal expectations/preferences. I like a plot to latch on to, but is that something that should be a part of SimLit, or something that I just like? As much as I can say "I often don't enjoy reading legacies without plot", I think that players who write those at least deserve a spot in the community like anyone else.

    I write what I like to write.

    I don't know if this was the exact story/author that made me think "SimLit can be exciting and deep, or at least have a lot put into it," but I started out reading stories on a different forum and ones like:

    - Mission Highly Unlikely
    - The Aurora Immortal Dynasty
    - The Classic Immortal Dynasty
    - The Elysi Immortal Dynasty

    Uh, other than giving me ideas of what challenge could best frame my ideas (take a wild freakin' guess!), something about those four and others that aren't coming to mind made me think harder about what I could do with the game. And all those stories, great as I think they are, tended to stick to whatever an unmodded game offered them. Maybe it was motivation for me to take this further. Who knows.
    A thousand bared teeth, a thousand bowed heads
  • CathyTeaCathyTea Posts: 22,799 Member
    Do you have any preconceptions about how SimLit is supposed to be? Or did you used to have some, but you've grown past them as you've read and written more Sims stories?

    Yes, I did have preconceptions about SimLit. I was heavily influenced by the TS2 classics by Candi and ephemeraltoast: hilarious, witty, goofy, with lovable characters.

    These are very light, satirical, and so much fun.

    We don't learn a lot about the writers, and there's not a lot of plot, but we get to know and fall in love with the Sims.

    In my dabbling with writing TS2 and TS3 legacies, I really wanted to develop character, but I wasn't sure how to do so. I couldn't figure out how the writers saw such depth in their Sims.

    In the past year, I've pretty well tossed out all preconceptions. Your writing @MedleyMisty has helped with this, and so have all the short stories for the contests.

    It seems like we can write whatever we want!

    If you did have any preconceptions, how did they affect your writing and reading?

    I kept looking for work with depth in it: character development, especially, but also reflections on life.

    In my own writing, I started by inserting little "reflection" pieces into the legacy--these started out as jokes for in TS3, if Sims had blogs, they could blog about "Reflections on friendship" (or so on). So I thought it would be funny to do "Reflections on game-play." As I started writing these, I began to share more of myself--at first it was pretty scary, for I wasn't aware of any SimLit where the writer revealed herself directly--her opinions, insights, and so on. Then, when I realized I could do that--and readers responded well, and I could survive the exposure and lack of privacy involved with making my views public--I started including more and more of myself in more of my writing, as if it were regular fiction or nonfiction, and not SimLit.

    Then, when I felt I had an idea I wanted to explore, I started to look for ways that I could explore it through SimLit.

    Are there any stories in particular that made you realize that Sims stories could be more than what you thought they could be?

    In the early days of TS4 (fall of 2014) I fell in love with @RachelRosebud 's "Gather Ye Rosebuds" and FloorRaisin's Wolff Legacy. Both of these provided the perfect bridge that I was looking for from the traditional TS2 classics to the deeper, more character-rich TS4 writing. Before long, these two broke out into literature: well-written, insightful, and full of moments.

    There was this incredible, exciting explosion of SimLit last year around this time--and reading all those exciting works, it seemed like anything was possible.
    Cathy Tea's SimLit Anthology

    Dragon Name: Hywicoes | House: Ravenclaw | Wand: Dogwood, Unicorn hair 11 ¼" , Suprisingly Swishy
  • RipuAncestorRipuAncestor Posts: 2,194 Member
    Oooh, this is a great idea! Okay, here goes:

    Do you have any preconceptions about how SimLit is supposed to be? Or did you used to have some, but you've grown past them as you've read and written more Sims stories?
    I started reading SimLit at the old and dead the Sims 2 site, and I pretty much immediately found the more plot driven stories and mostly ignored the legacies and other challenges because I tried to read some of them and they didn't really grasp my interest. Then I slowly realised that those challenge stories were pretty much the majority of all the stories (or possibly not but that's how it feels sometimes).

    But about preconceptions... I don't know. I think that as long as it has something to do with the Sims, it qualifies and there's no other criteria. I guess my only preconception is that the challenge stories seem to be more popular than just story driven ones that I like to write, and that's why I don't even expect (just hope) that very many people will get interested in my writing. But definitely agree with @InfraGreen: I too write what I want.

    Of course, there are some popular non-challenge stories as well, so there goes that theory... And no, I don't hate challenge stories or think they are somehow inferior to plot-driven stories, but I just haven't found many of them that I've personally wanted to read all the way through.

    If you did have any preconceptions, how did they affect your writing and reading?
    This isn't what I think all Sims stories should be, but it is what I most of the time want my own Sims stories to be like: fictional life stories or slice-of-life stories. They're not going to be about what most would call "normal" lives, but they are going to depict people doing mundane, day-to-day things and grow up as people while living their lives. And also, some weird and most likely dark stuff happens and characters are developed. I think I go for the life stories because that's what I also play the Sims for even when I'm not storytelling and I feel like that's what it's best suited for (but then again, the beauty of the Sims is that it's oh so malleable).

    And yes, I usually like reading plot-driven life stories the most, especially if they bring in something like fantasy or scifi as well. But I definitely don't mind reading something else entirely as well. All I want is stories that are well written and interest me.

    Are there any stories in particular that made you realize that Sims stories could be more than what you thought they could be?
    The story I remember the most fondly from when I read the Sims 2 stories was The Gravity of Being Green by GreenLady555. Before that I hadn't run into very many especially well-written stories, and what I had read had been mostly short one-shots with not much room for character development. Then suddenly I find out there's this fantasy/scifi life story with some great plotlines, and that depicts the main characters' life from childhood to adulthood, and... well, I don't know for how long it would have gone, because the story was never finished as far as I know, but I really liked the concept of it and later realised that hey, that's what some other stories do too!


    ...Not sure if I should be doing this while I'm so tired. Oh, well, I tried making sense and saying something of substance. :| Anyway, it was really interesting to read what all the rest of you guys have already said.
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    My Sims stories:
    The Fey of Life - fairytales in life are few and far between (Forum thread HERE)
    The Chrysanthemum Tango - a story about life, death, magic, and how to be a good landlady (Forum thread HERE)
    Forget-Me-Not - some things just refuse to stay buried; an Ambrosia Challenge story (Forum thread HERE)
  • MedleyMistyMedleyMisty Posts: 1,188 Member
    @CathyTea Aww man, I'm kind of sad you don't remember my Pleasantview legacy from those days! ;)

    My Seth and Sarah are very much based on their Sims 3 traits and the wishes they rolled when I first started playing them, and I think they are very deep characters. It can be done. :) I'm glad you figured it out.

    I'm also glad you survived the exposure. I do it because I don't know how to be anything but vulnerable, but I have been attacked for it. Eh - I keep doing it anyway though. ;)

    I will have to check out those two stories! I hadn't paid attention to...well, any stories really, not just TS4, in a while. I guess because until I came here I didn't know where the people who still cared about stories were in the community anymore - Boolprop is dead, Sims Storytellers is dead, etc. I guess I'm late to the explosion, but I'm glad I found it!

    Sometimes the darkness and I tell stories.
  • CathyTeaCathyTea Posts: 22,799 Member
    LOL, @RipuAncestor - I love what you say about writing that when you're tired! I was sleepy when I wrote mine, too, so my internal censor was shut off--so pretty much was my analytic mind! LOL!

    We could have a question sometime that we all only answer when we're really sleepy or when we first wake up, before our logical mind kicks in!

    I like what you say about how your stories "are going to depict people doing mundane, day-to-day things and grow up as people while living their lives."

    What I've loved about writing the legacy is that so many chapters are just about mundane moments--the same patterns happen generation after generation, so it lets me as a writer explore common, everyday ways to write about that.

    @JordanNicoleJJ and @Jes2G also have some of those daily moment chapters in their legacies, too--and those are often my favorite chapters.

    Also, I think I remember the Gravity of Being Green! I didn't read it all, but I enjoyed the bits I did read.
    Cathy Tea's SimLit Anthology

    Dragon Name: Hywicoes | House: Ravenclaw | Wand: Dogwood, Unicorn hair 11 ¼" , Suprisingly Swishy
  • RipuAncestorRipuAncestor Posts: 2,194 Member
    CathyTea wrote: »
    LOL, @RipuAncestor - I love what you say about writing that when you're tired! I was sleepy when I wrote mine, too, so my internal censor was shut off--so pretty much was my analytic mind! LOL!

    We could have a question sometime that we all only answer when we're really sleepy or when we first wake up, before our logical mind kicks in!

    :D That sounds like a fun idea!

    And yes, I too love exploring day-to-day things in writing. And then add symbolism and some metaphorical things in there. I also like how the small things people do in everyday life can reveal so much about what they are like. That's why even if the story I'm writing was otherwise completely non-mundane, I will try to add at least something that is basically "boring, everyday stuff" in there, because character exploration is fun!

    Okay, I'm really going to sleep now. My writing doesn't make much sense anymore. And I'm totally not also writing the next chapter for my Sims story in this mindset. Nope! Never! *shifty eyes*

    doublebannerpic.jpg?w=676
    My Sims stories:
    The Fey of Life - fairytales in life are few and far between (Forum thread HERE)
    The Chrysanthemum Tango - a story about life, death, magic, and how to be a good landlady (Forum thread HERE)
    Forget-Me-Not - some things just refuse to stay buried; an Ambrosia Challenge story (Forum thread HERE)
  • InfraGreenInfraGreen Posts: 6,350 Member
    I told myself that I could excise all of the "mundane" chapters from my story, but I'll admit, a lot of my chapters first come to my mind with a simple event I want to happen, and weaving into everything else that is happening in the story. Though my favorites start out with thinking of a mundane event, but adding something gross and/or intense for the sake of contrast. Renew wedding vows after your friend kills himself, get assaulted at a normal funeral, putting undertones of child abuse in a chapter about kids running away, almost getting shot when going out for cookies, etc.

    But anyways, unless your story is entirely event-driven, I think those moments need to happen. At least I have trouble making character introspection happen at intense times. Closest is that they happen at quiet times right before the storm. I think that SimLit has helped me appreciate those moments in other media too. Nothing wrong with taking a breath.
    A thousand bared teeth, a thousand bowed heads
  • CitizenErased14CitizenErased14 Posts: 12,172 Member
    I liked reading peoples' thoughts about showing "mundane" life moments in stories.

    It's interesting -- I enjoy reading about those things, but I have a hard time WRITING them. D2D was so plot-driven that I felt anything that did not contribute to the main plot was just "filler". I think that's the big difference between SimLit and non-SimLit stories. The everyday moments don't really get shown in "regular" stories, but since The Sims is a life simulator, it makes sense to feature these moments in SimLit!

    I think my struggle was that I didn't really think of D2D as a "SimLit" story... Just a story that happened to be illustrated by sims :lol:

    I definitely see the beauty in showing those "mundane", everyday moments of life. I'm a huge fan of character development and introspection and I feel like chapters that feature these sorts of moments are great for that!

    PNN, while light-hearted, will still be very plot-driven. When I start my Legacy in the new year, I plan on keeping it more casual and exploring more of those everyday moments in my writing :)
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  • CathyTeaCathyTea Posts: 22,799 Member
    InfraGreen wrote: »
    I told myself that I could excise all of the "mundane" chapters from my story, but I'll admit, a lot of my chapters first come to my mind with a simple event I want to happen, and weaving into everything else that is happening in the story. Though my favorites start out with thinking of a mundane event, but adding something gross and/or intense for the sake of contrast. Renew wedding vows after your friend kills himself, get assaulted at a normal funeral, putting undertones of child abuse in a chapter about kids running away, almost getting shot when going out for cookies, etc.

    But anyways, unless your story is entirely event-driven, I think those moments need to happen. At least I have trouble making character introspection happen at intense times. Closest is that they happen at quiet times right before the storm. I think that SimLit has helped me appreciate those moments in other media too. Nothing wrong with taking a breath.

    I've got to tell you... you know what I read your fiction for, Green? For your treatment of the mundane! I just adore the way that your fringe characters strive to settle into "normal mainstream life." There's always a twist... but something makes me absurdly happy to see Annette holding her baby on her hip making an apple pie! Heavenly happy!
    Cathy Tea's SimLit Anthology

    Dragon Name: Hywicoes | House: Ravenclaw | Wand: Dogwood, Unicorn hair 11 ¼" , Suprisingly Swishy
  • CathyTeaCathyTea Posts: 22,799 Member
    I liked reading peoples' thoughts about showing "mundane" life moments in stories.

    It's interesting -- I enjoy reading about those things, but I have a hard time WRITING them. D2D was so plot-driven that I felt anything that did not contribute to the main plot was just "filler". I think that's the big difference between SimLit and non-SimLit stories. The everyday moments don't really get shown in "regular" stories, but since The Sims is a life simulator, it makes sense to feature these moments in SimLit!

    I think my struggle was that I didn't really think of D2D as a "SimLit" story... Just a story that happened to be illustrated by sims :lol:

    I definitely see the beauty in showing those "mundane", everyday moments of life. I'm a huge fan of character development and introspection and I feel like chapters that feature these sorts of moments are great for that!

    PNN, while light-hearted, will still be very plot-driven. When I start my Legacy in the new year, I plan on keeping it more casual and exploring more of those everyday moments in my writing :)

    Most of the literary fiction I love centers around mundane moments: Joyce's Ulysses, Woolf's "To the Lighthouse," a lot of Faulkner's work, a lot of Erdrich's and much of Austen's and Munro's. I love the little descriptions of sunlight tracing patterns on the floor or the sound of silverware on bone china. Most of the fiction I write, too, makes heavy use (symbolically, and otherwise) of mundane moments.

    What I loved about Dust to Dust, Citizen, is that even though it has a tight plot--and it's beautiful the way no moment is wasted, and every single event moves the plot forward--you aren't constrained by plot. You were able to let the characters and theme develop fully, so that when we reflect on D2D, the plot becomes the MacGuffin and it's the characters (and for me, the themes) that become what we truly, deeply care about. That's what lifts it into art, for me.
    Cathy Tea's SimLit Anthology

    Dragon Name: Hywicoes | House: Ravenclaw | Wand: Dogwood, Unicorn hair 11 ¼" , Suprisingly Swishy
  • MedleyMistyMedleyMisty Posts: 1,188 Member
    I'd answer my own questions except I didn't have any preconceptions because not having preconceptions in general is a life philosophy of mine that I cling to very very very tightly, and also I'm not terribly influenced by other people's stories.

    I hope that doesn't make me a bad person.

    Haha, though, oh man, I used to get so angry about the prejudice against legacies back in the Olden Times. Mine had a story! Sure, it was all funny and stuff and I didn't do SRS BSNS stories until, like, Valley with Sims 3 in 2009, but it had a story!!!!

    I know one time I read a book and stuff KEPT happening, like the characters never got a moment to themselves and it was just constant constant bad stuff, and I stopped reading because it was so exhausting and frustrating.

    About the preconceptions thing....like....

    Fair warning, the spousal person poured more wine into the glass at dinner tonight than he usually does.

    People have always told me that my Sims stories are unique and different and not like anything else they've seen before. People said that with Valley, and I've heard it a couple of times about Surreal Darkness. Less than I did with Valley, but that's because Surreal Darkness has less than a tenth of Valley's readers. Which I think is due to changes in the community more than Surreal Darkness not being a tenth as good as Valley.

    And it's like....I can't win against those preconceptions. I can write my heart out and it won't matter to someone who's all "Eww this has Sims 4 pictures!" or "Ewww there aren't actual Sims in the story!" or "Ewww the Sims game is only for lighthearted fun silly stuff that takes at most five minutes to write!" or whatever. Which, you know, the usual disclaimer: I like to write humor and silly stories too, and there is nothing wrong with them. But on the flip side, I also like to write my deep existential stuff, and there's nothing wrong with that either.

    But eh. Sometimes I want ALL the human connection and all the relationships, and other times I'm like "Those people aren't my audience and we'd have nothing to say to each other anyway."

    After the Bad Times (which I've learned in the years since that if you write something "unique" and "different" with the new base game, and it gets a lot of attention, you're going to threaten people who are deeply attached to the old game and who are worried that people will stop reading their stuff, and they will attack you), I joined another writing community, one that was a competition with a new topic every week and that was text-only.

    But, being me, I couldn't help but do the occasional Sims story for it. ;) And actually a lot of the other people in that competition who had never heard of them were fascinated, and since mine was the first they'd read they were completely open and they had no preconceptions, and it was pretty awesome. :) Which they are curious enough about it that they wanted me to write a treatise on Sims storytelling, which I will do one day when I feel like it. I'll use the title I was originally going to go with for this thread: "Word Bones, Picture Blood: Creating Sims Stories".

    I just....

    I don't think anyone should limit themselves. In what they read as well as in what they write. At least until you have the experience to make an informed judgement - like I've been reading Sims stories for over 10 years, so I know that if I click on a new one and it's a legacy founder on a bare lot talking to the player about how they hate having to live on the bare lot, I should probably go ahead and hit the x button. But even then, you know - another thing I've learned is to scan the latest chapter first to see if it's worth going back to the beginning, because the latest chapter is going to have the best writing.

    I might not read a lot of legacies anymore, but I will say that after 10 years of observing the community around them, I think they serve a great purpose. So many people have learned so much about writing from them.

    And I GOT to go take a shower now. Also, yeah, I do walls of text. I'm a writer. It's a thing. ;)
    Sometimes the darkness and I tell stories.
  • mastressalitamastressalita Posts: 2,874 Member
    Well, I will admit... at the time I started writing Sim stories, I actually didn't know that they were really "a thing." Therefore, I didn't exactly have any preconceptions about them... which I suppose could be considered a good thing. I sort of explain this on my About Me page, but I'm actually pretty new to The Sims compared to most SimLit authors (I've only had Sims 3 since last New Year's Eve) and my first exposure to the game as a story-telling device was through video Let's Play on YouTube. I knew I didn't have the equipment or personality to ever do anything like that, even though I had lots of thoughts and ideas for storylines floating around in my head that I really wanted to share. I found the story Alice and Kev by accident when I was researching Runaway Teen challenges, and that was my first exposure to telling a story using screencaps and the written word. When I saw it, it totally changed my perceptions, as I realized then you could tell a story needing nothing more than the in-game screencapture command. I could do that. I started up my site shortly after that. I didn't actually find the community of SimLit authors, and the huge body of work that was out there, until after I had a decent amount of parts of both of my stories under my belt but no readers and needed to find the proper, acceptable place to promote them.

    Though in retrospect, after seeing all the other SimLit out there, now I look back at my own stories and can only see myself as "doing them wrong." My word counts are very low compared to everyone else. I tend to screencap and then write around what happens rather than the other way around, composing and then going into game to get the imagery, which seems to be the standard, so now I've become really critical of myself when I hadn't been before. When I started, I didn't really think of there being any "right or wrong" way of doing things, but now I feel like my eyes have been opened and I'm "doing things all wrong," heh.

    However, ultimately I do believe one should write for themself, and what makes them happy, so I'm not so sure I'm going to second-guess myself and change everything now. Of course I will always strive to improve -- I am very new to this particular kind of writing (my background is in play-by-post writing -- but I also kind of like doing things how I do things... I definitely love reading the plethora of stuff out there, and will read anything. I don't care the game, I don't care the genre, I don't care if it's by a brand-new author or an old pro, I love seeing all the different styles and formats out there. Currently I've been really enjoying a story which is mostly all images, with very little dialogue at all, which I've really been enjoying. On the flipside, I have stories in the Stories and Legacies Index which are text-only that I can't wait to sit down and read, too. I think not having preconceptions and being open to exploring all sorts of different formats in the genre can only be a good thing.
    sali_adbanner3.jpg
    Have a Sim story site? Please submit your link to the Stories and Legacies Index!
    Check out my Simlit at Sim Stories: Hijinks from the World of Sims 3!
    My Simlit Discussion/Updates | The Fringe | Short Story Challenges
  • MedleyMistyMedleyMisty Posts: 1,188 Member
    @mastressalita Like I said in the other thread, that's how I write too - taking the pictures first and then writing the captions. So you are not doing it wrong, I promise. Take it from an old pro. ;)

    Also the word count thing isn't wrong either. Actually with Valley towards the end I tried to get as much meaning out of as few words as possible. I think I went overboard with it, but still, I learned a lot. And now my word count has grown, because I'm learning different things. Also I'm not using any actual Sims in the story, which definitely changes things. When you only use scenery pics, you have to provide all the context for the scenery.

    Also yay for being open to things! :) And I just wanted to reiterate - you're not doing it wrong. There is no way to do it wrong.
    Sometimes the darkness and I tell stories.
  • CitizenErased14CitizenErased14 Posts: 12,172 Member
    edited November 2015
    @mastressalita I totally agree with @MedleyMisty ! There's no "right way" or "wrong way" when it comes to SimLit! But I totally understand why it might feel that way sometimes, trust me!

    I find it interesting that you and I had opposite experiences in terms of comparing our work to other SimLit. You thought you were "weird" for using less words and screenshotting BEFORE writing. I thought I was "weird" for having too MANY words and for being totally plot-driven!

    I wonder if part of it could be that old comparison between TS3 stories and TS4 ones. TS3 stories seem to have longer chapters and be very plot/story-driven, whereas TS4 stories tend to have shorter chapters and be more sim/gameplay-driven. I had only ever read TS4 stories before I started writing D2D, so that was what I was comparing myself to! I wonder if you had been reading mostly TS3 stories?

    (I feel I should mention that here are exceptions to my generalizations, of course! There are casual/sim-centered TS3 stories and plot-driven TS4 ones! And there is nothing wrong with either style. Sorry for being hyper-sensitive, I just don't want anyone to take my comments in a way I didn't intend them :))
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  • mastressalitamastressalita Posts: 2,874 Member
    Hahaha, well at least you guys try to make me feel better. ^_^;;

    I'd only read one story (Alice and Kev) before I started writing my own, as I said. So that's really the only comparison I had at the time. Come to think of it, I guess the way I started writing (only a few sentences/short captions) for each image was typical of that story (Alice and Kev... and that is still one of my favorite stories, so... I guess take that as you will.)

    It was after joining this community and starting to read so many other stories that I started to feel insufficient, because they were much wordier, used fancy screencaps using pose-mods (at the time I was using all "vanilla" images straight from the game), etc. Though I think I've always read a pretty even split between Sims 3 and Sims 4 works. "Frenemies" was my first Sims 4 story, and it was written with lots of dialogue, using a script-format, and my stories had no dialogue at all, which immediately made me start to feel like, "Oh... am I supposed to be doing that?" And I think just over time I started seeing more and more works with high word counts and so I started thinking that having little captions like I was made me look like "less of a writer". The funny thing is in my typical writing style, play-by-post (I have an ongoing story with a co-author over Google Documents that we've been working on together for over a full year now, and between the two of us, we've netted somewhere around 600 pages or something like that!) I'm actually quite wordy, and write posts of around 1k-1.5k on each turn-around. Back when I used to do play-by-post forums I was considered one of the "wordy" posters of the forum, heh. Of course, that is a "text-only" medium... when I read Alice and Kev, and started writing Sim stories, I guess I just felt that the images told so much of the story on their own, that it wasn't like many words were needed. I didn't think anything of it... until I started seeing other people doing it differently, which made me question if I was "doing it wrong." And this especially settled on me hard because I had a "reputation" in play-by-post as being a "wordy poster."

    But... it is true. There is no right or wrong way to do things. The truth of the matter is an author is always their worst enemy and is going to question themselves no matter what. ^_^;;; I found tonight I went to great lengths to make sure my new Yandere Diaries post was much longer than what I usually write, and I added in dialogue, which I don't normally do... basically, suddenly I have this post that is a totally different style than the rest of the story. Because I've started to doubt myself because I've become more exposed to other (better) Sim stories through a wider variety of reading than when I first started writing them myself. Am I just trying on the style, or will it stick? I don't know, hahaha!
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  • roseinblack69roseinblack69 Posts: 4,068 Member
    edited November 2015
    Good morning/good evening everyone! :) Finally I found a thread what I was looking for a long time :) It's really great news for me <3 I'm still thinking I'm totally new in writing of the sims stories, I'm more writer of simple stories and novels, but I like this new experience, although I tried to write the sims stories before. I simply didn't like them, so I deleted these Blogs... Well, everything begun, when I read amazon story by @pammiechick and I'm very thankful to her for many things :) Her story inspired me to write my own amazon challenge story, so it was my beginning. I'm working on 3 sims stories at this time, one of them is "under construction" :)
    I'm a reader of many stories in this forum and I'm always glad how many creative people are in this community :) The last story what I finished to read is Dust To Dust by @CitizenErased14. It's wonderful story, if someone didn't read it, read it ;) I promise you'll not regret :)
  • MedleyMistyMedleyMisty Posts: 1,188 Member
    edited November 2015
    What is play by post?

    I haven't noticed any differences in stories made with different games. Now, I do have opinions on the Sims 2 community after years of being targeted by them, but obviously I'm biased by my experiences there.

    I remember when I ventured beyond Boolprop and found the LJ and Blogger stories I wondered if I could hang with them, coming from the land of challenge stories and all. Turned out I could. ;)

    @CathyTea said that Surreal Darkness was all experimental and that could be part of why people won't give it a chance, but I don't think of it that way. I just thought it was fun to personalize the darkness of Midnight Hollow that everyone was complaining about, and then I got attached to the darkness and the narrator and kept writing their story because I liked it. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Speaking of Surreal Darkness - how does the game influence your work?

    Like Surreal Darkness does not have actual pictured Sims, but the landscapes and lore of the game still shape the story. I don't know what the story would be without the edges of the Sims 4 maps, for instance.

    Post edited by MedleyMisty on
    Sometimes the darkness and I tell stories.
  • CitizenErased14CitizenErased14 Posts: 12,172 Member
    edited November 2015
    Welcome to the discussoin @roseinblack69 ! And also thank you for mentioning/recommending D2D. You're wonderful :heart:

    Ooh I have a lot to say about your latest question, @MedleyMisty !

    How does the game influence your work?

    I could never have written D2D without the game's influence -- the entire idea actually came from TS3, when I'd have child sims grow up to fall in love with their imaginary friend and then work hard to bring them to life so they could be together. When I decided to try something similar in TS4, I thought "What can I do instead of an imaginary friend? Aha! A ghost!". And other important plot elements like Ambrosia or the Grim Reaper or Granite Falls/The Hermit were entirely game-influenced as well! :)

    That being said, I tried to find a careful balance between having all of these direct references to the Sims and making my story feel "real". I never wanted my characters to feel like Sims -- I wanted them to feel like real people (and I think I managed that, more or less!) BUT at the same time, I still wanted it to feel like a SimLit story... So I almost think of it like they are real people living in the Sims World :lol: A very tricky balance!
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  • roseinblack69roseinblack69 Posts: 4,068 Member
    edited November 2015
    @MedleyMisty Midnight Hollow is my favorite world in the sims 3 game <3 This world was like a gentle caress for my gothic soul when EA created it :) I hope EA will create similar world in the sims 4 too ;)

    @CitizenErased14 It was great idea :) Unfortunately, my sims friended imaginary friends many times, but all they were never turned to sims :(
  • mastressalitamastressalita Posts: 2,874 Member
    @MedleyMisty : Play-by-post is round-robin writing, pretty much, between two (or more) people. One person has a character they control and they write a bit of the the story and put it out there, and the writing partner then has a character they control and then they post back a response to what the writer before them provided. A lot of forums based on different novels/TV series/video games/etc. that use this style of writing are out there (I played on one based on the world of Anne Bishop's The Black Jewels novels for several years before forum llama-drama and my escalating health problems caused me to throw in the towel). A few years ago I found I missed play-by-post, but I definitely didn't miss the forum-drama that tended to go along with it from being part of those communities, so now I just have one author I work with independantly that I keep in touch with over e-mail and Skype and we use Google Docs for our compositions rather than a forum, and we've had that going for over a year.

    While it may sound odd, when I write Sim stories, I actually think of the game as a co-author, which is why I always go in game first, and do the writing second. I might drop into the game with an "idea" of what I'm going to guide into happening that play session, but I never set anything in stone, because I like to see what the game is going to throw my way, which could be incorperated into the story as a result. I think the fact I think of the game itself as my writing partner is probably from my background in play-by-post writing.
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  • RipuAncestorRipuAncestor Posts: 2,194 Member
    @InfraGreen I have to agree with @CathyTea, I really like how you depict the everyday life of the not so everyday people in your story. I like contrast myself, and you have a lot of it.

    @mastressalita I love Alice and Kev too! It was the first Sims 3 story I ever read and it is really good!

    I actually sometimes take my screenshots before writing too, and sometimes I do it the other way around. However I feel like. And yes, pictures do tell a story of their own! I think it's entirely possible to do a story with just pictures, and some have done exactly that. I think @CitizenErased14 had some wordless chapters, right?

    And I really hope you can get over your feelings of inadequacy. You have nothing to worry about. We write differently and that's the great thing about it all!

    @MedleyMisty I also don't think that people should limit themselves based on preconceptions. Writing in any medium is such a diverse thing that I feel it's kind of ridiculous to try to impose some weird guidelines about how a certain storytelling tool should affect it. As tired as it probably sounds, one can never please everyone, and it's okay.

    I actually didn't catch on to the fact that the Darkness in Surreal Darkness is that of Midnight Hollow at all! Probably because I've never played that world myself so I didn't know much about it. But anyway, that's a fun origin for an amazing story! I think that one of the reasons for people not wanting to give Surreal Darkness a chance could also be that it's, well, surreal, and I've learned that a lot of people don't like that. They might feel like it's too confusing or leaves them with too many questions. This is just me trying to sum up comments people have told me about surreal things or the like, not based on any comments I've heard of your story specifically. And this was definitely not criticism towards it or me trying to tell you that you should make Surreal Darkness any different. I love it the way it is and because it is the way it is!

    Hmm... could the fact that a lot of people might not expect anything too wordy or plot-driven or thought-provoking when they read the Sims stories affect how they respond when they do run into said stories?

    I guess it could, but I don't know... I personally have the impression that most Sims writers do put a lot of time and effort into their stories, so I don't know where that kind of attitude could come from. Or then I just hang out in a very limited Sims story environment.

    I was actually about to also ask about how the game influences people's work! Or almost the same, at least...

    With me I have to sometimes stop to consider if what I'd want in my story would be possible to get screenshots of in the Sims at all. I mean, sure, one can do pretty much anything in it with enough mods, CC, and especially creativity and patience, so then the question I ask myself is more like: can I make this work in the screenshots and make it look convincing?

    Then there's also the fact that, while I don't have a challenge or anything I'm documenting with my story, I do play the Sims I use in my story, especially the main family. And sometimes I might grab plot elements or document a situation I hadn't planned at all that just happened in the game. Sometimes I specifically go just play paparazzi around the town I'm playing in to get shots of some random situations. My Sims stories are also set in the Sims universe, and I don't want to make too many references to something outside of its world.

    So I do have some more questions besides the one you beat me to:

    What kind of relationship (or whatever you want to call it) is there between the text and pictures in your Sims stories? And yes, you can answer this even if there is no text or no pics in your story as well. That's a relationship too.
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    Forget-Me-Not - some things just refuse to stay buried; an Ambrosia Challenge story (Forum thread HERE)
  • CitizenErased14CitizenErased14 Posts: 12,172 Member
    edited November 2015
    Yes @RipuAncestor I have a handful of wordless chapters in Dust to Dust. They are actually some of my favorite chapters (and tend to be some of my readers' favorites too)! Like you said, the pictures can often tell a story of their own! That's part of why, in my SimLit writing, I don't do as much detailed description of scenery or even body language/facial expression... The pictures really do tell a lot!

    Which leads me to your question...

    What kind of relationship (or whatever you want to call it) is there between the text and pictures in your Sims stories? And yes, you can answer this even if there is no text or no pics in your story as well. That's a relationship too.

    Okay, I will answer with two takes on this :) The all-pictures and no text answer, and the "normal" chapter answer :lol:

    When it comes to my wordless chapters, I use them for moments when I feel it's best to let my readers 'fill in the blanks' for themselves. I don't know if anyone reading this plans on reading Dust to Dust but hasn't yet, so I will keep this vague to avoid spoilers :tongue: But I generally use them for showing character backstories (through flashbacks) but I have also used them for a couple of emotional moments or dramatic moments too, where I feel like words would almost take away from what's happening. It's hard to judge! I only ended up with 6 wordless chapters in my story and part of me would love to have done more, but there are only certain times when I feel wordless is "right". It all has to do with the type of impact you want to have on your readers.

    Most of my chapters (in both D2D and PNN) are fairly typical -- words and text! I generally use the pictures to enhance the story, by showing characters' facial expressions and body language. For most of my chapters, you can take away the pictures and the all-text chapters would still work on their own -- but I think they wouldn't be as good. With SimLit, the visual element is important for sure!

    Sometimes though, even in my chapters with words, I let the pictures tell part of the story. For example, in (Para)Normal Neighborhood (I feel less bad about spoiling this story, since it's not quite as serious :lol:) there's a chapter where my main character is eating and drinking magical things that are changing her appearance. I never use words to say what effect the food had on her -- I use the words to say how strange she feels as the changes are happening (which she does not notice, by the way) but I use the pictures to SHOW what sort of changes the food has made to her appearance. There's the perfect example of how the words and the pictures are kind of working independently of one another, but still working together toward telling the story. I have more subtle moments like that in D2D, but there are a few like that as well. :)
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  • InfraGreenInfraGreen Posts: 6,350 Member
    Speaking of Surreal Darkness - how does the game influence your work?

    A lot, really.

    I don't thank EA for much, but I do thank them for making a town and a cast of pre-made sims that could be moulded into deeper characters.

    I think a lot of the tone of Eight Cicadas is dictated by its setting. Twinbrook is either kind of mundane and charming, or dark and broken. And I think a lot of the pre-mades there come across that way too. But the town gives me a lot of interesting places to shoot chapters and plan events around. Granted, I'm a sucker for editing lots as I see fit too, but I get a good base to work with most of the time.

    As for the pre-mades, they're something that mostly applies earlier on before time marches on and they die. But I have a lot of fun taking a pre-made and fleshing out who they are, whenever I get the chance to do it.

    Plus, I think Eight Cicadas would have been a wildly different story if there wasn't a family of criminals for Annette to marry into. The game can't outright say the sort of messed-up horrors that such a family could be hiding, but that's my job! And it's a good job.
    What kind of relationship (or whatever you want to call it) is there between the text and pictures in your Sims stories? And yes, you can answer this even if there is no text or no pics in your story as well. That's a relationship too.

    Pretty simple: most of the time, text closely follows what happens in the pictures and further describes them. Text fills in the blanks, but I can break form and go for a while with just text, in the event of there being a long dialogue exchange that wouldn't yield that many unique screenshots, or if there's something I really can't portray in the game. I try to keep them at some sort of reasonable length, though.

    Text can really tell some things that pictures can't, and vice-versa. Which is why I'm open to reading stories that use just one or the other. A loooooooong time ago, I attempted to do a picture-only story, but I either didn't do it right, or people just didn't understand my artistic vision. :p
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