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The Art of Sims Storytelling

Comments

  • haneulhaneul Posts: 1,501 Member
    @GlacierSnow That's great! I hope you enjoy time with your family and even your work in August/September and I look forward to reading your chapters when you get them up. :)

    I also second the comment about the cat.
  • HermioneSimsHermioneSims Posts: 310 Member
    @GlacierSnow, that's great news! I was already curious about your story, but after seeing the preview picture I really can't wait to read it!
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    You can follow the Legacy Miller on my blog and on the forum thread, *Chapter 5.16 Updated on 29th January 2023*
  • GlacierSnowGlacierSnow Posts: 1,744 Member
    @SnowBnuuy @haneul and @HermioneSims Thank you so much for the encouragement and excitement! That definitely helps me keep going. :smiley: I hope you all enjoy the story when I get it up and running.

    The cat sure seems popular. :lol: I think you'll like him.
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  • SnowBnuuySnowBnuuy Posts: 1,322 Member
    edited August 2022
    @GlacierSnow We will! Whilst some stories are on hiatus it’d be nice to have something new and fun to fill the gap! Plus you’ve spoken about your stories here a lot and I’ve been curious -u-

    I’ve recently been half-tempted to write a bunch of in-depth stuff about the stories I’ve already written, kind of like deep-dives into characters, themes, ideas, that sort of thing. Admittedly a fair bit of the Magic Universe is just magical wish-fulfillment or ‘because it seemed cool’, but there are a few things I could probably expand on. It’d no doubt be long and rambling but it’s on a possible to-do list for now.
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  • GlacierSnowGlacierSnow Posts: 1,744 Member
    @SnowBnuuy Thanks! It's encouraging to have some excitement from other writers. Things have been going well with me learning to use Weebly and getting everything ready, so it might get started earlier than I thought. I'm still going to wait until after my upcoming real world obligations are over (mid-September) before I start posting though. But late September could happen at this point I think.

    I have really been enjoying your "Divided" story. When I have some time I'll take a look at some of your others too.
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  • SnowBnuuySnowBnuuy Posts: 1,322 Member
    @GlacierSnow That means a lot ;-; Thank you. I don't know if I'll do the 'analysis'-type thing yet since I think it sometimes ruins things knowing author intentions, since it's nice to come up with your own interpretations of things. And I think it might be better I just leave the infodumping to comment responses (outside of the lore pages I've already done anyway, and keep forgetting to stick to...)
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  • GlacierSnowGlacierSnow Posts: 1,744 Member
    @SnowBnuuy I know what you mean about the "how much background info" to provide dilemma. I've been going back and forth on providing a "characters" page on my website. On the one hand, as the story gets really up to full speed, there are a lot of characters to keep track of, so it could be useful. But on the other hand, I don't want to give away any spoilers regarding the characters. So if I do make such a page, it will only have characters that have been named so far in published chapters, and will probably only have the most bare-minimum of info (like name, age, and a one sentence description) rather than any kind of full bio.

    Plus, I usually don't know all that stuff myself as I am writing the story. I'm inventing it as I go and I don't want to get locked into something that ends up not working as my ideas change.

    Publishing some lore for stories that are already completed, though, could be fun for fans of those stories. Just mark it as containing spoilers for readers who are new to the stories.
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  • SnowBnuuySnowBnuuy Posts: 1,322 Member
    edited August 2022
    Sorry to be spammy on this thread, but I forgot to share this: I made a rough guide to using GShade for those who might be interested in using it for their screenshots.

    Also a character interview to help people flesh out characters. I plan to keep updating this as I come up with questions and points.
    Post edited by SnowBnuuy on
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  • GlacierSnowGlacierSnow Posts: 1,744 Member
    Nice list of questions for the character interview!
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  • SnowBnuuySnowBnuuy Posts: 1,322 Member
    @GlacierSnow Thank you! I decided I'd go overboard and throw it all in there because what might be relevant or not is gonna wildly depend on what story folks are writing, but I also think sometimes it's better to know more than less about a character...sometimes anyway.
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  • GlacierSnowGlacierSnow Posts: 1,744 Member
    edited August 2022
    It has a lot of really great details to think about for characters!

    I'm curious at what point in the story writing process other writers tend to examine their characters in depth. So some questions for you all. Mostly just to get some conversation going here again. :smile:

    Do you create character sheets for your characters? (Or some other kind of note keeping character files)?

    How much depth do you go into?

    When do you do it? Right at the start? Part way in? Throughout the whole writing process? Never?

    Do you like your approach? Is it working well for you? If not, what are you thinking of changing?
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  • SnowBnuuySnowBnuuy Posts: 1,322 Member
    Thank you < 3 Oooh! :D Good to get a convo going here again.

    - I keep notes on character profiles in a single box on my story plan, since it's all organised by a one-column table.
    - Nowadays, I don't do super in-depth character profiles since I tend to change things later, so it's better to have less and build on it for me. On my current plan for Divided, I have short character profiles, and they are separated out for the various 'factions' within the stories. I'll share Gideon's here, since his doesn't have any major spoilers and is under the 'Nobles and Witchfinders' section of my plan.
    ' Gideon Reyes: Witchfinder. In it for the money to look after his kids as well as to protect people from evil witchcraft. Cares little for the organised faiths. Although he is a witchfinder, he refuses to go on a hunch, and will only look to prosecute if he has proof. He hates any witchfinder who is willing to kill a witch on a hunch alone, and with no proof or knowledge of the signs of witches. '

    - When I start a story, I start with writing down names of all of the conceived characters I have in the very beginning. then I start building on possible ideas for personality, the odd later plot point etc. Then as I write and add new characters, I do the same as I go. Some ideas get scrapped, others get moved to other characters. Originally Reynold and Joyce were going to be mother and son but I scrapped that idea.

    - My current process works well for me. I have a lot of fun doing character interviews and larger studies, but then it's harder to change things as necessary later on. I don't know if I need to change anything since so far it all seems to work out (mostly).



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  • SirianaSimsSirianaSims Posts: 92 Member
    SnowBnuuy wrote: »
    Also a character interview to help people flesh out characters. I plan to keep updating this as I come up with questions and points.

    This is a great list! The Duchelli Legacy that I am currently writing is my first attempt at writing, and this would have been useful to have seen before I began. (It's still extremely useful! Definitely going to keep it as a checklist/for ideas)

    By now, I have more or less developed an approach: I have an overall plot theme for each generation, and then I throw in a wrench and figure out how my character would deal with it. I also decide on a core personality and an aesthetic for each major character as they arrive on the scene, and then sometimes the game itself hands me drama, plot or fascinating NPC's that I just have to incorporate.

    And since my story is legacy-based (just with plot instead of points and rules) it has gotten really interesting to trace how the previous generations shape the personality of the next ones - my Gen 3 heir turned out to be a bit of a womaniser - but his grandfather is Don Lothario so it makes perfect sense. But he's conflicted because he also has an extreme sense of responsibility and a need to do the right thing from his lawyer father - plus the consequences of some bad decisions - so that gives him his own unique issues.

    I try not to have my characters too fleshed out to allow for random stuff/ideas happening, but since this is a generational story, I have time from my heir is born to develop their personality, depending on what happened to their parents and what happens while they grow up.
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  • GlacierSnowGlacierSnow Posts: 1,744 Member
    @SnowBnuuy
    I start with writing down names of all of the conceived characters I have in the very beginning. then I start building on possible ideas for personality, the odd later plot point etc. Then as I write and add new characters, I do the same as I go. Some ideas get scrapped, others get moved to other characters.

    This sounds similar to what I often do. Especially the part about ideas sometimes getting move to other characters. A lot of times a line of diaologue, an opionion, or an action comes to me without me knowing which character it belongs to, and if I like it and want to include it, I attach it to the character that seems most likely to think that way. But as the story develops, I may decide it actually fits a different character better and I reassign it.

    @SirianaSims
    I have an overall plot theme for each generation, and then I throw in a wrench and figure out how my character would deal with it.

    That's a really good idea!
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  • haneulhaneul Posts: 1,501 Member
    edited August 2022
    @SnowBnuuy That's a great character interview. I will probably consult it in the future for other projects I have.
    @GlacierSow Good questions.

    Do you create character sheets for your characters? (Or some other kind of note keeping character files)?
    Not really. Oddly enough, I think my screenshots are my notes. I draw a lot of inspiration from the game. I use thought bubbles and whatever else is going on to set the stage for a character's personality and since I play legacy-style, things develop over time and everything influences everything else.

    Regarding new characters, if I didn't already have other characters in my game, I would start with a premise, but since I do have other characters I just start with them as parents. What are these parents like? What kind of names would they give their children? Why? What do those names mean? What does it mean to grow up in a family like this with parents like these? I just wonder about a bunch of things and by the time my characters/Sims become teens, there are tons of screenshots I can use to sort out what their personality is and I can also figure out what a lot of those early screenshots mean. Even though it's not really on purpose, I generally don't start posting any writing about any of my characters/Sims until they are teens in my game.

    If I were just writing a novel, I would probably do something similar: start with a basic premise without too many details, but then question everything from there to see if it makes sense, jumping headfirst into details where I think it's helpful and then rewrite it x100 and argue with my team.

    Overall, I like my approach a lot. I just don't like my pace and I also don't always like my writing (sometimes it's too much, sometimes it's too lazy). Regardless, since characters (and not plot is my focus), I want to put proper effort into them and into making them feel unique.
  • Kellogg_J_KelloggKellogg_J_Kellogg Posts: 1,139 Member
    Do you create character sheets for your characters? (Or some other kind of note keeping character files)?

    How much depth do you go into?

    When do you do it? Right at the start? Part way in? Throughout the whole writing process? Never?

    Do you like your approach? Is it working well for you? If not, what are you thinking of changing?

    1. I tried, I even started writing out the answers to Snow Bnuuy's character questionnaire for each main character but it didn't work out for me for whatever reason...the characters aren't set in stone even at this stage so I prefer not to keep notes. I use Blogger and they have a function where you can tag each character so if I need to go back and check on a bit of background detail that might have been mentioned in a previous chapter I just do a search for that one character and that narrows it down and makes it easier to keep canon.

    2. Each character in my story is quite detailed but it is all in my head and using the chapter and tagging system I can check back on my work.

    3. It works for me, I don't recommend it for everyone. I'm still open to writing notes or keeping a story "bible" but I'm not doing it at this stage.
  • GlacierSnowGlacierSnow Posts: 1,744 Member
    These are some really interesting answers. It feels like a lot of us have had to find a balance between "I need to discover who the characters are in a way that feels natural as the story develops" and "I need to somehow keep track of stuff as the story gets longer".

    @haneul I often use my screenshots as my notes as well. For all sorts of things, in addition to characters. It's so useful to have a visual component to the story because it's often faster to check the pictures than it is to hunt through huge amounts of text. And the sims themselves, with their wonderful face expressions, often steer the character development in directions I wasn't initially expecting, but that totally works. I have one character in my Seventeen & Maldusk story I am getting ready to post soon, who (just because of how his face is constructed) looks grumpy even when he's fine, and his whole personality and backstory just came surging out of that observation. He turned out different than I originally imagined, but I love him so much as he is.

    @Kellogg_J_Kellogg That tagging system you use sounds like a really useful tool. I often use the search function in my writing program in a similar way to quickly bring up every place I mentioned something.

    My methods for character stuff, under spoiler since I went into more detail than i probably should have :lol:

    If I include my attempts as novel writing in with my simlit writing, I have been all over the place on that continuum between deciding things in an organized way and allowing things to just grow and change as I write. I'm still searching for the best approach for me.

    Initially, I didn't keep any notes at all. I just let the characters, their descriptions, their scenes and their dialogue come to me however they wished and I would write it all into the story no matter what it was. But as the story grew to a monstrous size, I found myself struggling to remember details that I had already decided. I wasted huge amounts of time searching back through written material to double-check that I wasn't contradicting myself. I also changed my mind about how certain characters were going to fit in the overall plot, due to discovering they were a different type of person than I originally thought they were. And this took a massive amount of re-writing. And worst of all, I found myself "storing" ideas for character information in the story text itself, creating some very awkward, boring, info-dumpy dialogue.

    So, then I tried the other end of the scale, trying to make very detailed notes about my characters in advance that I could use as I wrote the story. But this didn't work well for me either, because part of what I love about writing is discovering who my characters are bit by bit along the way. Making detailed notes about them before writing the story, pretty much killed my enthusiasm for writing it at all. When I write I often feel like I am just listening to the characters tell me about themselves and with some of them, if I push too hard for details, they leave. Only the most confident and self-absorbed characters will stick around and let me ask them a thousand questions about their most personal feelings and memories.

    I'm still working on finding a balance that works well for me. For novels, I do create some character sheets at the start, but they are pretty basic. Physical details, age, important relationships such as family members and past romantic interests, and a very short backstory concept (which may change as I write). I usually try to find a picture that sort of fits what I have in mind for how they look as well. I started using Scrivener instead of Word a while back, and I like how I can keep all my notes in the same document, calling them up quickly in a side-bar, and making cross-referencing notes where needed.

    For simlit, I don't really need to keep track of physical details, because it's all in the screenshots. And because the chapters are so short, and each is in its own document, at this point it's still easy for me to check on details because I remember where I mentioned it. As the story gets longer though, I'll probably need some system for keeping notes. I have periodic brainstorming sessions with my husband about character development and plot, and I take a lot of notes on all the ideas we discuss, and then sort through those notes later, choosing which parts I want to use. I keep all of that in a 3-ring binder so I can find all those random bits as I need them. And I keep track of any plot related character development point in my ever growing "Wall of Post-it Notes" in the living room. :lol: Luckily I have an understanding spouse.

    I think a list similar to the one @Snowbnuuy made could be pretty useful for me, but I'll be most likely be using it more as a reference for noting details as things get decided than as a way to explore the character in advance. I found reading through the questions very inspiring though, because it is such a thorough list, so I may pull it out from time to time to see what it sparks.

    My hodge-podge system does seem to work for me, but it still gets unwieldy as the story gets longer. At least it keeps me writing, though. So I guess it works.

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  • Kellogg_J_KelloggKellogg_J_Kellogg Posts: 1,139 Member
    The screenshots are integral to the storytelling on Sim 66. It helps set the scene for the era and everyone looks fantastic in their period clothing. The look of each character informs a lot about their personality.
  • SnowBnuuySnowBnuuy Posts: 1,322 Member
    Replies time!

    @SirianaSims
    Thank you so much! I'm glad you think it'd be helpful. < 3 I think legacies are hard to do TBH, I tried extending a 3-gen challenge of mine into a legacy story, and I ran out of ideas after Gen 5. To keep up an interesting storyline and a variety of characters and plots for ten generations takes a lot of time and skill that I really don't have. My current project I plan to be quite a long one, and honestly it's just really hard to plan something lengthy. I've tried working with a larger cast, though IMO it had mixed results.

    @Kellogg_J_Kellogg
    I think sometimes you just don't need to know a huge deal about each character. I used to have character interviews done for everyone before my SimLit days, but now I just start small and build on it later. Since otherwise I end up spending hours sorting characters out and then changing it later. This was trouble with my obsession with doing character interviews for everyobdy was cuz everyone was constantly changing. The tagging system is a good idea actually.

    @GlacierSnow
    I think when you write third-person, it's sometimes hard to describe a character without info-dumping too much. This is why I like SimLit, because the pictures provide most of those details : P I think you're right in the sense that sometimes it feels more like the character telling you stuff instead. That was how it felt writing that argument scene you recently read, like it came out of nowhere and I just rolled with it. That all sounds super-organised! I need to get back to writing ideas in physical journals like I used to in my teens but I just don't get the joy from it now that I used to.

    I'm glad everyone liked the character interview < 3 I find sometimes a lot of the questions asked on such things are either super irrelevant, or more or less useless for writing so I made it a mix of more basic and more detailed things, and things that can spark a plot point (relationships with others, the self, flaws etc.) Another of my favourite of these lists is by an author named Marcel Proust, which are great for really getting to know your character. I might actually try answer these using one of my characters for fun maybe, from one of the older stories.
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  • HermioneSimsHermioneSims Posts: 310 Member
    Those are really very detailed interviews to outline new characters, I admit that I would struggle to answer some of those questions even about myself :o

    I admit I'm not very good with this kind of very demanding preparation for new characters (and I envy a lot those people who are good at it instead, good for you guys!)

    With legacies in particular I don't particularly feel the need to plan much about my characters in advance: apart from the founder, I literally play with (and write about) sims from their birth to their deaths, so I literally follow them as they pass through the experiences which will shape the person they are going to be in the following. So, for example, I try to find them a few likes and dislikes already when they are kids or teens and cultivate them in the following, and also to keep track of those events or circumstances in their lives which could have left them confident or insecure about this or that other thing... Sometimes it can be hard to keep track of everything, in particular when I'm playing with a lot of sims at once or with very old sims who have passed through a lot, and so that I'm not good at taking notes about this stuff I'm mostly relying on my memory alone for everything (which, I know, it's a quite risky strategy...)

    With the more story-driven writing instead I tend to work iteratively. I start with very vague ideas about the characters, their backgrounds and their motivations, and get new ideas as the story progress. Then I tend to return back to the previous chapters, read them again, and make integrations to hint to characteristics of the characters which are going to be important in the following. Also in this case, the notes I usually take about the characters are just a few lines... Most of the notes I tend to take, in this case, are for the draft of the story itself and its subdivision into chapters, but that's a whole another story...
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    You can follow the Legacy Miller on my blog and on the forum thread, *Chapter 5.16 Updated on 29th January 2023*
  • SnowBnuuySnowBnuuy Posts: 1,322 Member
    edited August 2022
    @HermioneSims I really do love your legacy and your characters. The first time I played a Sim from birth to death was actually really heartfelt, so it's good seeing that in other people's stories. You get attached to characters and then it's sad when they go ;-; YEAH keeping notes for huge casts is a nightmare, it's why legacy play I realise isn't for me cuz I lose track of everybody. X_X I really like yours and @haneul 's strategies a lot.

    I might try and fill in that character interview for one of my characters from an older story. Would be fun to see how much I can fill in.
    EDIT: Yeah this is hard. I haven’t filled in a fair few of them because I don’t know the answer XD
    Post edited by SnowBnuuy on
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  • rednenemonrednenemon Posts: 3,192 Member
    Do you create character sheets for your characters? (Or some other kind of note keeping character files)?

    Not really. Mostly because when I try, they end up going a completely different direction than I initially expected. :s For example:
    In Racket-Rotter Chronicles, the character Sagebear was only really meant to have been a 'team mascot' of sorts, reacting accordingly in regards to the situation at hand. However, as the story went on, she got scenes that focused on her, and she ended up becoming a character in her own right. So much so that she was far more than just the family pet by the end, and one of the 'main seven'.
    How much depth do you go into?

    When do you do it? Right at the start? Part way in? Throughout the whole writing process? Never?

    Depends on the character, and how developed they are at that point. Another example:
    Marc seemed to me like the least developed of the main seven. After Arc 5, halfway through, it felt like there wasn't really much to him besides "that loser with a lot of health problems". So the following story arc was, in part, an effort to delve a bit more into Marc's backstory, and just generally give him more time in the spotlight.

    Do you like your approach? Is it working well for you? If not, what are you thinking of changing?

    Seems to work well enough for me, whatever it is.
    AO3: Silver_Shortage_in_Markarth <(Where I'm usually at nowadays)
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    Part One(Complete 9/24/16) /Part Two(on hold)/Short Stories(on hold)/Twinbrook 1996(on hold)/Ten Crystal Hearts (on hold)
    I own the TS3 Store as of 12/11/16 (sort of. It's complicated)
  • hellohannah2hellohannah2 Posts: 591 Member
    Hey! I'm new here so I hope it's okay if i just jump right in. Super interesting to read everyone's approaches to character, like using your screenshots to inform the personality of each character or just going with the flow and seeing what happens.

    I love discussions like this so I thought I'd share a bit of my process - not that I'm a mad pro writer or anything, but I've been doing it casually for a long time :)

    Do you create character sheets for your characters? (Or some other kind of note keeping character files)?

    Nah! It's too much work for me and I'm far too impatient, I just want to get to the good part (aka actual writing)

    Do you like your approach? Is it working well for you? If not, what are you thinking of changing?

    I feel comfortable with my approach to it - a lot, if not all of my characters have characteristics/traits of different people I've met throughout my life, so they feel very real to me when I'm writing about them. It's an easy way to inform what they would do in any given situation because all I have to do is think "Hm, what would someone like X say about this in real life?" I think this works well for me because I'm really interested in human behavior anyway - Yes, I'm that weirdo who's watching the way you do and say things and thinking "Oh, I wonder why they've done/said that? Fascinating."
    No character is based totally off a real person though, I like to mix and match things and throw in the odd one liner or little quirk that I've seen somewhere else. I like to use real scenarios too, from my own life or from others just to give that extra spice of realism because I think it often feels more authentic than coming up with something out of the blue.

    Does anyone else do this? I'm sure it's probably a common thing but I am super curious to know
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  • SnowBnuuySnowBnuuy Posts: 1,322 Member
    @hellohannah2 Yes! Due to (what I believe to be) neurodivergence, I over-read people a lot and think about every little thing they do. I also do this due to anxiety, so I spend a lot of time wondering why people do or say XYZ because even after 26 years, I don’t understand the social rules, nor have I worked out the secrets of the slightest changes in facial expression. : p I’m glad you mentioned that because I think that’s why I can talk about characters in such detail when reading as well as writing. I’m used to over analysing IRL speech and behaviour, so I do the same to fictional characters. :D

    I do pick up habits off of people in real life and add them to my characters sometimes, and sometimes it comes from personal experience as well. I can’t think of any examples off the top of my head, but a lot of characters have a little of me somewhere, and likely a little of people I’ve met down the line.
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  • SnowBnuuySnowBnuuy Posts: 1,322 Member
    So I finally filled out my own character interview for one of my characters, eliminating any major spoiler-y questions. It was actually really hard to answer every single question. (This is someone from older stories, so less reason to worry about spoilers.)
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