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PLOT SCHOOL LESSON 2 - Convince Your Player

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PLOT SCHOOL LESSON 2 - Convince Your Player

PLOT SCHOOL LESSON 2 - Convince your player

"The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense." - Tom Clancy

RE-INTRODUCTION:

Over a year ago, Furdabip created the first lesson to the "Plot School." It provided an excellent overview of clichés, why they can be bad, and how they can be good. Unfortunately, no subsequent lessons were ever created! I've decided that I will try to revive the Plot School with a new lesson, a lesson on creating a convincing storyline. As the above quote states, telling a fictional story can be harder than telling a true story. There's no need to make a true story convincing, because it actually happened. When a player starts your fictional game, they'll have it in their head that your story is not, was not, and will not be true. We don't to give them any excuses to cling on to that notion, now do we?

Things to Avoid:


We can rebuild him, we have the technology.-

Avoid new technology. Notice that I said "new" technology, not "advanced" technology. If you are making a game with a futuristic setting, try to stick with advanced versions of existing technologies. We've got lazers now, so if you want to use lasers in your game, go for it. The lasers we have now are bulky, inefficient etc. etc. but in a couple hundred years or so, it is completely believable (and probable) that that will change. When you start to lean towards things like DNA enhancements to regrow lost limbs in a matter of seconds, you start to get on the sketchy side. Having one or two instances of completely new technologies is fine, but you had better explain them. Saying something like "Because it is the future, we can regrow limbs instantly" just will not cut it. If you are going to come up with a new technology, remember that it took hundreds of years for scientists to develop your technology. There must be an interesting story behind that, right? Now, on the other side of the fence is that you can bore the player by explaining too much. If an insignifigant piece of the plot, like an oven that cooks things instantly, comes along-- just let it be. Some things that are ordinary, everyday things to the character you will do better to leave them unexplained. If the character would already know about it, why should it be explained?

What are the chances?-

Remember that coincidences are coincidences, not rules. What are the chances that the town right before you have to cross water is the only town in the entire world that has a boat, and the town right before you need to take to the air is the only town in the entire world that has an airship? If you have ten towns, then there is a 1 in 10 chance that only one town has a boat, and a 1 in 10 chance that the one town right before you need the boat has a boat. That means that the chance that there is only one boat in the entire world and that it is in that particular town is 1 in 100. Now, those odds aren't too bad. Let's multiply it times the odds that you will also have only one airship, in the one town right before you need it. Now we are looking at 1 in 10000. As you can see, the more coincidences you have the more unlikely it is that it could actually happen. Now, all of these numbers assume a random probability. What do you think is the best way to make it believable? Explain it in your story, of course! Remember, though, that this will work only to a degree. You can certainly explain why there is only one of each vehicle, but how could you explain why they just happen to be right where you need them? With story, you can bring the odds back to a more favorable 1 in 100, but that is with only 2 coincedences. By using story you can increase your coincidence allowance, but you still want to be careful.

It's in my genes!-
You know what Bill Gates's father did before he retired? He practiced law. You know what your hero's family did before they retired? Chances are they didn't go around saving the world. Your story will not be believable at all if your hero's father saved the town last time, your hero's uncle is the town mayor, your hero's mother is the daughter of the king of another kingdom etc. etc. If your hero's (or any other character's) family consist of all of the most important people in the world, it begs the question why everyone else has not been taken out back and shot. Ok, that may be an exaggeration, but only a slight one. It may be easier to just make it so that the player already knows everyone important so you don't have to find ways to introduce new characters, but you just can't get off that easy. That actually brings us to the next point--

Didn't I sit behind you in the 5th grade?--
This one is actually an addendum to the last one. There are over six billion people in the world, how many of them do you know? I'm sure it is an incredibly small fraction. If you go for a job interview, how often do you hear "Oh, I've been waiting for you!" Even if a character is vitally important to the story, that doesn't necessarily mean that they know every other vitally important person in the world. It is certainly easy to have a person in your third town say "You need to go see my friend bob across the ocean, he'll give you the sword of haxorness." How incredibly lucky is it if everyone important knows each other already? If we already know who's important, why do we bother with any of the other characters? Now, you certainly do not want to leave the player completely on their own, so maybe that town across the world is known for it's weaponsmiths. It would only natural to think that someone in a weaponsmith town would know about the sword of haxorness. That doesn't necessarily mean that by the time you get to the town you know exactly who to look for.

Follow the yellow brick road!--

Who ever said life was easy? Your character's life shouldn't be easy either. I don't know, but it seems to me that for mighty heroes, protagonsists get coddled an awful lot. Someone tells you to go find A, by the time you've found A someone else told you that B is next and it continues on like that. How is your player supposed to believe that your protagnist is heroic if everyone else is doing all the work for him! If all your character has to do is run around and fight, then why don't those guards that easily handed your arse to you and threw you out of that castle a couple towns back just do it themselves? there's got to be a reason that your character is the one saving the world, and it usually is the figuring things out part.

Things to include:


A setting, damnit!--

Yeah, no special title for this one. Just include a damn setting! Did you know that there was a World War I that actually came before World War II? Yeah, right? I was so surprised when I found out! A setting does not mean just a location and time. Your setting also has to include the history. World War II would not have been nearly as interesting or believable without World War I. In fact, it would not have happened at all without World War I! There has to have been other conflicts that happened before your current conflict, and those other conflicts could have even been completely unrelated to your current conflict. For bonus points, you make it seem like they are unrelated, but they are tied together in some way. Either way, if nothing interesting has ever happened in your world, then why the hell do the antagonists want it? You have to make your world unique in some way.

Walk like a man, talk like a man!--
If your characters are supposed to be people, then make them act like people! You have to make the dialog convincing. Remember that, even though your NPCs are just pieces to move the game along, they have to act as if they are not. It can help to try saying the conversation aloud before you put it in your game. If you feel like a moron doing it, chances are that your dialog needs to be fixed. There will actually be a full lesson on this piece later.

IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER: As with clichés, these are not set in stone. These are merely guidelines. If any of these things surprised you, then I would suggest reading again and getting practice following inside these guidelines. They will challenge you as a writer to the point where you will eventually be able to recognize exactly why these guidelines are here, and then you are golden to bend the rules Wink

LESSON:
Alright, if you want to get some practice doing this, here is what you have to do:

Create a story that takes place in one town. Remember to keep in mind everything that is above, that means:

--Describe your setting. Remember that the town existed before your current events, tell us a bit about them. Remember to do so in a way that won't bore your reader/player.
--Use coincedences sparingly. They will be necessary sometimes, which is fine because coincedences do happen. Just make sure that your entire plot does not depend on coincedence after coincedence.
--Remember that the path ahead is not paved in gold. Make your protagonist figure things out.

Also, you get bonus points if you incorporate what was given in Furdabip's lesson 1 Wink

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Ultra TownieMega TownieSuper TownieGreat TownieTownie
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Holy crap, has it really been a year? I have wasted my life... Frown

I did have a plot school lesson 2 idea, not fleshed out, about making believable characters... Never worked on it, and forgot all about it! But oh well. This is a great way to keep this going.

So, uh... a walled city that is huge, and the mayor/ruler/king has cut it off from the rest of the world. There's farms within the walls, etc, to keep everything going without outside influence. The city is starting to suffer from overpopulation now, and the way the king is dealing with it is over-aggressive laws and severe death penalties for people who break them. This leads to a rebellious group that try to overthrow the king, but fail and all die. Well, that's what the king thinks. Several key important people are still alive. Now you, you come in as a bar tender, since your parents own a bar. One day there's a fight behind your bar, and when you go to check on it, someone is dead, and another person lays dying. You try to help the guy that's dying, and he tells you to give some crumpled up piece of paper to a guy named Lyons in the industrial park. You tell your father about it, and he says he'll take care of it. A couple days later, and your father is missing. Your mother tells you to go look for him, and you head off to the industrial park. You find some processing plant owned by an H. Lyons, so talk to him about your dad. He tells you he never met your dad. Even after telling him about the dead guy, and the crumpled piece of paper, he says he was never visited by him. Lyons tells you that the guards probably got him on some bullshit charge, and offers help on finding him if you in turn help him.

And... I'm too tired to go through an ENTIRE storyline... so... Lyons is starting a new rebellion, you and your father join up after you find your father in some jail cell, and then do missions to bring down key parts of the king's office, and eventually overthrow him, yadda yadda.

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Great TownieTownie
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Ahh, see that is good. You got around the rule about family by making it so that the kid does not know about his family trying to help save the town until after he decides himself to help. The only thing I would say is for you to tell us why the city has been walled off. If you are going for the third-person limited (Only the main character's thoughts are known) you could get away with saying that no one knows why the city got walled off, but at some point when you face the king you'd better qualify that, because the king sure knows why he walled off the city. And, of course, you get the bonus points for following your own lesson 1 by using the cliché of the Supreme Overlord and the Rebellion effectively.

Also, I plan on doing at least two more lessons. I am going to expand on the bits about Dialog and Setting. We'll see if I can come up with more, as well. If you want to get back in on making some lessons, let me know.

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Great TownieTownie
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Nice tips Demon, but wasn't there a second one posted in this section?

People are stupid; given proper motivation, almost anyone will believe almost anything. Because people are stupid, they will believe a lie because they want to believe it's true, or because they are afraid it might be true. People’s heads are full of kn

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Great TownieTownie
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Nope, only a LESSON 1 posted over a year ago.

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Ultra TownieMega TownieSuper TownieGreat TownieTownie
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[url]http://www.rpg-palace.com/node/5800]

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Great TownieTownie
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Huh, well would you look at that. Well, that doesn't really fit very well with a plot school, as it's talking more about ways to present the plot, not the plot itself. Besides that, I think that it's a little sketchy XD. No offense to the OP of that lesson, but there are some parts where it is a little shaky.

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Ultra TownieMega TownieSuper TownieGreat TownieTownie
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Yes, this one fits the "plot school" better.

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Mega TownieSuper TownieGreat TownieTownie
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I was reading that other thread, and I have one question...

what's a gibbon?

Also, I'll probably post a plot here sometime tomorrow. I can always use criticism.

There are four truths in life that all must come to terms with:
1. I will die and all that I am will cease to be.
2. I am born alone and will die alone. I can never truly know another.
3. The suffering in my life is my own creation. I create my reality through my choices.
4. ALL meaning is arbitrary and relative. Life is ultimately meaningless.

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Great TownieTownie
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Haha, I didn't read the other thread fully, but as far as I am aware, a gibbon is a type of bird. I only know that because Ubuntu names all of it's versions as sometime of bird, and one of the versions was "Gutsy Gibbon" Laugh

Also, yeah, post something up here and I'll take a look at it.

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Great TownieTownie
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Wow I completley forgot I wrote that. In hindsight a little ill-advised. I stand by the principles, though they're better suited to photos, comics, and movies.

And a gibbons are a type of ape

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Great TownieTownie
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Heh, ok I guess then Ubuntu must just use animal names.

And yeah, your ideas work better for things where the camera can have 6 degrees of freedom, and not be limited to a specific X/Z angle and not be limited to 4 Y angles XD

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Townie
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ok, ok, i have post one up here... i'll use the one i'm worrking on right now.

You are a young man(name decided later) who's father is a teacher for the king's warriors, and your grandfather was a great weapon forger, and later on the ansestory, one of your great grand fathers worked between the dwarfs and the elves, helping with the distribution of ores and magic weapons. (the 2 races started to hate each other after his death of old age... go figure) well, your great grandfather found a nice quiet place not far from the castle to build a town, and that is where you start many years later. always waking up very late in the afternoon, you miss out on exploring with a wierd friend of yours, Charles, who is seen as very wierd by everyone but you,(he is an alchemist by heart). you go and visit him, but he is now buisy with work, and tells you to help him. make it short, after finishing a days worth of errands, you sleep for the night. the next day, you get a letter from your father, he is asking for his axe that was passed down from the age of when the dwarfs and elfs worked together. you grab the axe, pack yor things, and start to set out. all of a sudden, Charles stops you, stating that he also needs to go to the castle, the Head Mage requested a bach of alchemy products and he just finished them. you both set out and not far from the village, still on the path, you both get stopped by some bandits, who bind you and steal your father's axe! you and Charles manage to break out of your bonds at night, but the bandit's scout spots you trying to get the axe back, and alerts the whole group. they capture you both again, and take you to the nearest swamp, where they leave you bound and starve. no items, no equipment, and you have to navigate and fight out. you get back to your village, ad meet with another friend Serral, who tells you the king has just died of old age, and his son has taken over. Your father is home, now relieved of his duty from the new king, and he gets angered that you lost his axe. you both fight, and you accidently send your dad into a unwakeable state(Coma). dread hits everyone, but mostly you since you did everything wrong. you set out to find the axe, and your friends help you. searching, asking, stuff happens, but next chapter, you learn that the new prince abtained the axe, and is using the acient power of it to expand his rule. soon the prince changes from great ruler to powerhungry, and you ned to stop him. you go through countless ruins and puzzles to uncover the secret of the axe, and the origin(which the character doesnt' know since his father can't tell him). learn that it wasn't even made by the dwarfs or the elves, you have to go deaper into hystory, which you learn a great demon that appeared after the creation of the earth made the axe out of the powers of hell itself. Your family only happened to get the weapon because the elves, who got it from the angel that killed the demon, gave it to your ansester as a sign of trust. the prince was corrupted by the evil in the axe because he is from a bloodline of warlocks that spend eons trying to bring to devil back for power. even though over 1000 years ago the warlocks were killed, the blood in the prince was still housing the lust for his arival, wither he wanted it there or not. i think i will stop there... i said too much, i think

oh, if you really want coincedence, you are also part of the warlock bloodline from your mom's side, and when you get the axe back, you are also being corupted whle trying to destroy it.

hope this is good, and don't mind the spelling, not good at vocab while typing my slowest speed--fast
(all this was made from scratch... BEAT THAT!)

The voices tell Roger, who tells Beth, who tells Alex, who tells me that they want out of my head.
Why don't they just send a postcard?

[i][=#990000]'May the Shadows have mercy on your soul.'
<blockquote><blockquote><blockquote><blockquote><blockquo

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Ultra TownieMega TownieSuper TownieGreat TownieTownie
Joined: 12 Sep 2006
Grawderu @ Feb 26 2009, 06:39 AM wrote:

(all this was made from scratch... BEAT THAT!)

Proud of your own work much? I bet you get excited and tell the whole world everytime you take a shit that clogs the toilet. Wink

... (I do! Laugh)

But yes, dude... your story is not a story. It's basicly an outline of what your main character is doing, with vague spots that aren't even filled in. You need to have an overarching timeline of events that are going to happen, and a reason for why your character is getting involved in them.

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Townie
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sorry, i do get carried away with my imagination... i see what you mean though. will work on it. and yes, i cherrish my creations alot..., but no i dont' tell the whole world when the toilet clogs, i tell the neihbor so i can get he plunger, then i tell the whole world that everything is now safe from the biggest rat ever, while i swing the plunger in the air like a sword and the turd is just floating there.

i did leave some parts vaige, most likely on accedent, but this is the first time i did something like this. the only other plot i have that is anygood is way too complexe for the program, and currently being writen in book, so typing a story is new to me. the story i will learn as i go, that is how i create things, i do better winging cause the brainstorming thing for some reason never works. can't explain... and probably now off topic. will work on it more, and stop typing on this reply.

*Don't worry, no rat was harmed during the making of this reply, only a plunger. Who knew a turd could fight... no wonder it hurts to take a crap...

The voices tell Roger, who tells Beth, who tells Alex, who tells me that they want out of my head.
Why don't they just send a postcard?

[i][=#990000]'May the Shadows have mercy on your soul.'
<blockquote><blockquote><blockquote><blockquote><blockquo

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Great TownieTownie
Joined: 7 Apr 2007

Well, you misunderstood the assignment. You were supposed to avoid coincedences. You get bonus points for working in cliches effectively (You were kind of hit and miss on that, some cliches you used were good, others were not) not for using coincedences. If you ever say "Go figure" then you have to take that part of your story out Sticking Out Tongue

Also, you do not want to be vague. You say that Charles is wierd but you don't say how. A lack of detail makes the coincedences eve harder to believe.

Try working on those things, and re-post it later.

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Townie
Joined: 25 Feb 2009

ok, i did miss read it, i thought you wanted some reasonable coincidence, and no random coincidence. i was thinking this was a different thing than the former post, more working on coincidences. it will take a few thinking and playing with the game, and then i will know what i will have. and i put 'go figure' since he was the only link between the elves and the dwarfs, but i think i know how to play with it a bit. i won't have much access to the computer later on, but i'll defently work on the timeline. and with Charles being wierd, didn't think about placing it on here as it is a surprise in the game. simplified, it is his experimental persanality and his hobbys... He takes care of someone elses pet spider, that if it eats a butterfly, it will sprout wings and fly, and he enjoyed it... maybe i can put up the detailed timeline before my seclusion from the computer, but who knows if i can.

The voices tell Roger, who tells Beth, who tells Alex, who tells me that they want out of my head.
Why don't they just send a postcard?

[i][=#990000]'May the Shadows have mercy on your soul.'
<blockquote><blockquote><blockquote><blockquote><blockquo

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Great TownieTownie
Joined: 7 Apr 2007

Well, reasonable coincedences are fine, hence the word 'reasonable'. However, a coincedence where you yourself say "Go figure" you probably need to rethink it Wink

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Super TownieGreat TownieTownie
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I'm working on a plot and need some advice and constructive criticism ( but don't be too harsh I'm a nube ) Its brief because its still under construction ...

Before good and evil their was peace. The world of "Azelia" was at harmony and conflict was in existent.
In a parallel universe ( Azelia at the end of days ) the world is coming to an end, not because of monstrous but the once peaceful people have depleted all the worlds resources and have killed each other through petty conflicts and territorial disagreement. Their is only one place that is still sheltered from this chaos " Utopas " and in this land their is a union of
hero's and heroin's who are on a universal exodus to find the promised land ( What they don't know is that the promised land IS Azelia just back in time long ago, They don't know this because their history was tampered and changed by the supreme emperor. ) The Emperor has enslaved the world unconsciously through brain washing and the media. The Azelian historians were bribed if not threatened to change their history to make everyone believe that the emperor Zerkzius is god ( In their original history and religious books "god" was of any form and they preferred the term "goddess" ,even though god/goddess is genderless. Now after Zerkzius tampered with their religion and history he is seen as the only one with the powers of god even though he dose not really no one has ever tried to confront him because they all live in fear. ) Zerkzius took away their wholeness and made them hate each other, how? By altering the Gia crystal of life into an anti Bane matrix that manifests with dark energy entering everyone's minds creating ego's ( phantom identities ) that cut everyone of from the source of life and peace. Why is Zerkzius so evil? Because he was the first to get manifested by the bane matrix energy crystal and before that he was a scientist trying to alter the gia crystal into something more powerful. What about the hero's union? are they going to just wonder in space forever? No. When they leave the solar system they see the world for what it truly is, a misunderstood mess of confusion and realize that their true history. How do they know their true history? The oracle tells them, The oracle has been watching for eternity and is gods eyes.

I'm still figuring out the rest. Please don't use this story, Its my life's work Gasp :lol3: just give me some advice.

Notice:
Need a face-set or character sketch/concept P.M me. I draw mostly manga style though and it might take roughly a week

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Nice tips Demon, but wasn't there a second one posted in this section?

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