Asking for writting advice: How to fix some of my writings problems

Oddball

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Eariler today, I realized why i have my problems in my writting, and i just wanted to share and ask for advice to be a better writer

1. Never learned how to "skim"
I read things throughly, and enjoy going at a slower pace then most, cause i feel i catch more in the story

Now, there is nothing wrong with this. But since most people these days skim for important details, i have no idea how to make parts of the story pop to catch their attention

2. I'm too subtle, and put too much important information together

This compounds the first problem. Someone might only read what they think is important, and skip over narrative that helps the story flow in the next sentence/paragraph. I suppose word choice might help with this a bit, but still

3. Erors n speling and grimatical to many

The spelling and grammatical errors in this sections header were on purpose. With too many errors, people would just skip over or have to read it sevral times, skimming compounds the problem and yanks people out of the story to try and figure out wtf they were trying to say

4. Premise/hook too long to get started, boring first three chapters plot

This one is self explanitory

I'm sure their are many more, but for now how do i fix these problems? help please
 

Milennin

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Edit: never mind. Thought this was for writing in games.
 
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Here's some general tips that may help!


1) Keep storylines understandable when you write them.

Stories can be amazing, but you also need to figure out what could be left out, and what should absolutely be included. A subtle joke? A foreshadowing event? A character's backstory? These are things that you should keep in mind as you write more plot.
Do not include unnecessary, or cluttered wording. Keep things simple and straight forward when possible. This usually helps people read along!


2) Read more so you can teach yourself better grammar.

There are tons of free resources on the internet. Free books, free E-books, comics, videos, short stories etc.
You will naturally start picking up on more words and vocabulary definitions as you read. So keep reading things!
If you prefer direct lessons, there are many ways to learn the english language. Enroll yourself in a class that teaches that. Reach out to someone who's willing to teach you, or guide you through grammatical logic and punctuation.

You have many options in that regard.


3) Put yourself in your audiences's shoes.

To avoid making mistakes in the future about writing what you consider "boring" plot, act as if you are in the player's shoes. Do you find yourself constantly trying to skip the dialogue, or can't deal with the wording? Erase it, and try again.

There's no harm in cutting out words, and trying to form the right sentences. It is tricky, yes. But don't give up. You can only go uphill if you continue to try.
 

Aslanemperor

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1. Never learned how to "skim"
I read things throughly, and enjoy going at a slower pace then most, cause i feel i catch more in the story

Now, there is nothing wrong with this. But since most people these days skim for important details, i have no idea how to make parts of the story pop to catch their attention

2. I'm too subtle, and put too much important information together

This compounds the first problem. Someone might only read what they think is important, and skip over narrative that helps the story flow in the next sentence/paragraph. I suppose word choice might help with this a bit, but still

3. Erors n speling and grimatical to many

The spelling and grammatical errors in this sections header were on purpose. With too many errors, people would just skip over or have to read it sevral times, skimming compounds the problem and yanks people out of the story to try and figure out wtf they were trying to say

4. Premise/hook too long to get started, boring first three chapters plot

This one is self explanitory

I'm sure their are many more, but for now how do i fix these problems? help please
Hey! So this is something I know I can help with! Let's go step by step, and I'll give you some useful advice:

1. How do you catch the attention of people who "skim":
So there's a few little things I do to make sure people are paying attention. Firstly, avoid the "wall of text" that causes most people to skim in the first place. The easiest way to do this is, when your characters are doing their dialogue and one has a paragraph to deliver, split it into several smaller text boxes. For example:
Normal: "Johnny, I need you to go to the market! I want to bake a loaf of bread and I need several ingredients. Please get me Flour, Eggs, and milk. Don't forget that the market is in the Southeast corner of town."
This is fine. It presents all of the info you need in order to accomplish the quest, but you could do better!
Spread out: "Johnny!"
"I want to make a loaf of bread and need your help.
"Can you to go to the market in the Southeast part of town?"
"I'll need Flour, Eggs, and Milk!"
Show Choice: "Sure" or "Not right now"
That's better. But what if you could make it EVEN BETTER!?
Ultimate: "JOHNNY!"
"I want to make a Loaf of bread and need your help!"
"Can you to go to the market in the Southeast part of town?"
"I'll need Flour, Eggs, and Milk!"
Show Choice: "Sure" or "Not right now"
In this version, the important words stand out because they're different colors. Even if the person is just skimming, they understand that they need to collect three quest items from a seller in the southeast part of town.

2. The sad part about this is that there's not much to do aside from trying to make sure that you make a habit of not putting to much extraneous dialogue. One of the big mistakes writers (even people who have been writing stories for their entire adult life like me) often make, is they'll go off on tangents. Focus on the story and the dialogue that's important to that story. Try to prune unnecessary extras, or find ways to fit them into more optional situations. A good example of this done well (in my opinion) would be Star Ocean for the Playstation. When you go into towns, there is an option to go in separately from the rest of the party, and it opens up special dialogue options where you can speak to party members in more one on one situations without the rest of the group around. This allows for more exploration of the personal relationships between party members without boring the people who are only there for the game, rather than the deeper story.

3. Mistakes like this will happen no matter how good you are. You mentioned that you like to read things carefully. My advice is to have a two step approach whenever you finish a part of your game. Go over the dialogue and make yourself read every word, just like you'd want your player too. This will help you notice errors you may overlook while you're typing it out. Second, send it to a friend (preferably someone who is a bit of a grammar nazi, as they are the best when you're wanting to catch errors. They just can't help themselves!). They may notice something even your extra read-through missed since they're seeing it with eyes which don't know what to expect. Make sure to ask them what they interpret it as. You may think, for instance, that you're asking the player to go buy eggs, but perhaps the wording makes it sound as though you're supposed to find eggs (which could lead some players to fruitlessly searching for chests instead of just buying them from the market).
More than anything, though, since you know this is a problem: Take your time. Like my mother always liked to say, "it's faster to take the time to do it right the first time around than to rush and have to do it twice."

4. ALWAYS START WITH SOMETHING EXCITING! I know this seems like it's hard. There is a way! You know what's going on in the background of your game. Maybe you don't start with your main character. To make an example:
The main character is a farmboy who is longing for adventure, but the beginning of the game has him fetching ingredients for bread instead of fighting monsters! On the horizon, however, you know that dark forces are approaching which will thrust him into the life of an adventurer even more than he'd want. Instead of focusing on that farmboy at first, have an opening scene that shows the dark force taking over a town. Maybe have a scene of a farmer's futile attempt to stop the Mega Dark OverLord Senpai from destroying his livelihood.
If you know that it will be a while into the game before your hero's call to adventure arrives, split your first chapter into chunks with little scenes of the oncoming danger in between quests. If you're really clever, you will set up the transitions to flow naturally. Example:
Johnny just finished eating one of the Loafs his mother baked. "That was delicious, but I ate too much! Suddenly, I don't feel so good." Off in the distance, the Farmer kneels over his fallen comrade in the transition cutscene. "I don't feel so good, Billy" says the fallen friend, and Billy the Farmer stands up, turning to face the enemy. After he's struck down, the Mega Dark OverLord Senpai says "Is there no one worthy of my blade? This all feels so pointless!" Meanwhile, back to Johnny. "This all feels so pointless! I'm meant to be an adventurer, but all I ever do is plow fields and fetch ingredients for baked goods!"

I hope this advice helps! The biggest advice overall, of course, is to simply keep writing. Write what YOU would like to read. More people will like it than you would think. Of course, if you keep writing with the intent to always improve, the more you do it, the better you'll get. In time, you may even be confident to give advice to someone who is having similar problems. I can say that I had a lot of these issues when I first started writing as well (although not the grammar part. I've always been particular about that stuff).
 

Oddball

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@Aslanemperor
this is for novel writing, but i guess it could work for that too. good advice, and on the last point

I suppose i could, i don't know, have the first chapter of the story have signs in the sky that a tornado is coming, and the charecter is judging if they have enough time to finish cooking their meal before it hits and they have to hide. This could add tension, and build charecter development at the same time

@PoptartPresident
Also good tips. and again, this is for a novel, not a game. and i suppose i could work on keeping my wording uncluttered

@Milennin
thanks for responding
 

Aslanemperor

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@Aslanemperor
this is for novel writing, but i guess it could work for that too. good advice, and on the last point

I suppose i could, i don't know, have the first chapter of the story have signs in the sky that a tornado is coming, and the charecter is judging if they have enough time to finish cooking their meal before it hits and they have to hide. This could add tension, and build charecter development at the same time

@PoptartPresident
Also good tips. and again, this is for a novel, not a game. and i suppose i could work on keeping my wording uncluttered

@Milennin
thanks for responding
I assume that we're talking Visual Novel, since we're on this site? Foreshadowing is a good way of keeping people's attention.
With this sort of thing, however, you can use a lot of little things to draw attention to what's going on in the dialogue. For instance, include little cues between sentences. Say the character is on the phone:
"Ahem" sound effect before an officious sounding person on the other line speaks:
"Yes! We will still expect you into work tomorrow, even if a tornado blows down your house. Tornados do not hamper the pride our company takes in pursuing profit at all cost!"
a sarcastic sounding "uh-huh" before the main character says,
"Yeah. I'll be sure to ignore the complete and utter destruction of my life in order to help your company make a few extra bucks."
"Aha!" sound before the clueless boss says,
"That's the spirit! I wish all of our employees were so devoted!"
 

SigmaSuccour

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Edit: I read after making my post that this is for novels, and not games...
I'll keep my post, since some things apply just the same.


1. Never learned how to "skim"

Repetition and recalling. You repeat the important bits, and you refer to them. (As something that happened/said in the past.)
When the same word and idea is popping up in different dialogues in your story. The player naturally will slow down during these moments, and read through thoroughly. Understanding this is important.


2. I'm too subtle, and put too much important information together
Keep the main parts of your story, simple and literal. Not subtle.
Like, where to go, what to do, protagonist's goals, and so forth.
When bringing these up, be as clear and literal.

You can add subtlety to all the rest. To character dynamics.
To how the characters feel and think about an experience.
And add subtle layers to their already established 'clear' goals.

The idea being... whatever is 'necessary' to get through the game. You keep it clear and literal.
And the rest can be subtle.



3. Erors n speling and grimatical to many
You have to take the time, and learn proper grammar.
There's no going around it.
Written dialogues, being read. Are much different from spoken dialogues, being heard.
For written dialogues, grammar is too important to ignore.

Go ahead, take a week off from game making. And learn proper grammar through an expert on YouTube, or do a course on Udemy.
Or anything.


4. Premise/hook too long to get started, boring first three chapters plot
Start your game and story from the fourth chapter.
Skip the first three.
 
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ATT_Turan

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Eariler today, I realized why i have my problems in my writting, and i just wanted to share and ask for advice to be a better writer

1. Never learned how to "skim"
I don't believe that skimming is a practice you need to perform in order to write well. I also don't believe (although I could be wrong) that most people who are going to purchase novels to read go through them for the first time and skim text.

I am not a published writer, but I would not try to cater to whatever percentage of people might do this.

I will find myself skimming books I've already read, so I don't need all of the details in describing the environment, for example...or, if I'm already bored, in which case you're already doing things wrong.
2. I'm too subtle, and put too much important information together
A very common mistake by beginner writers is the "infodump." That's giving too much information at a time that isn't furthering the actual plot.

Try to analyze this when you're reading - a lot of good books will demonstrate how little information is needed for the reader to understand what's going on. You might not even have noticed when you were reading something that they threw in foreign terminology that you either deduced through context or didn't care about not understanding because everything around it made sense to the story. Then the little things get explained later.
3. Erors n speling and grimatical to many
Here is where I'll point out that the title of your post has "writing" misspelled twice, in two different ways. You can probably come up with better ideas as to why this is than any of us. For example, if you have dyslexia or some other reading disability, you may be able to look up specific techniques to help.

If that's not the case, is it knowledge? For example, do you actually not know how to spell "explanatory," or were you trying to type quickly and your finger hit a random key? I would find this to be at odds with your first point that you like to read slowly and carefully, because if you're reading carefully, I should think your brain gets used to what the words are supposed to look like.

But, again, there are many techniques and exercises you can find if you Google it - I like using something to give me a random word, which I have my student spell out loud, then look to see if their answer was correct. You can also use online versions of Scrabble or similar games, which won't accept your answer if it isn't spelled correctly.

I don't know how you were taught English, but studying the system of common prefixes and suffixes can be a big help with some common spelling errors. (for example, "-atory" in "explanatory.")

And, of course, there's the basic crutch of helping yourself with a word processor. Type your story (or even your forum posts) into Microsoft Word and run the spell-checker.
4. Premise/hook too long to get started, boring first three chapters plot
I think this is related to your second question - sounds like you're infodumping. Again, my best suggestion is to go back and read more things with an analytical mindset. Look at how the author is setting up the situation. What do you know or not know? It is, again, a common beginner's mistake to think that readers need to know everything in order to appreciate or understand a given situation.

Look at how many stories start in media res, with action already ongoing.

I think your best bets are to read more, and be critical of what you're reading - a lot of stuff is getting published these days with little editing or standards, and tends to get good reviews from sites like GoodReads because "yeah, I liked it!" Look for professional, critical reviews before reading a book with the intent to emulate it (or, at least, analyze whatever you're reading and recognize what isn't good in it).

And then there are writing courses. Even if you're not in a situation to take one properly right now with a teacher, there are things on YouTube you can watch. Brandon Sanderson has several years of his writing courses on YouTube, and while they don't usually go to such basics as your questions, he does talk about some of it.
 
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HankB

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I feel like you've already gotten a lot of good advice, and it's probably a lot to process, but I'm going to go ahead and dump some more on you. I can't help it. It's my nature.

The main piece of advice that I would give is to not bombard the player with too much information at any one time. Don't make the story a "chore" for your players.

Even though I'm an avid reader and have read hundreds of books, I personally do not like to read huge blocks of text while playing a video game. Some people apparently do. I do not. Even if it's well written. I'm trying to play a video game. If I wanted to read a novel I would just read a novel.

But I do love games that have character development. The game Stardew Valley is a perfect example of developing characters in small, bite-sized chunks. If you haven't played that game, the model basically works like this:

Each day you have the opportunity to encounter an NPC and have a short dialogue with them. The more you interact with them (i.e. the closer you become with them), the more they reveal about themselves. And sometimes the revelations are very interesting. It's real character development, but it's doled out in small pieces, so there's no need to "skim".

As for writing dialogue, it seems that some people have an innate talent for it. If you're not one of those people, then watch some Tarantino movies and pay close attention, as they are amazing examples of developing the characters (and moving the plot forward) with mostly dialogue. If you like reading novels, then check out Elmore Leonard's books. In my opinion he's the best at writing natural sounding dialogue. He writes modern crime stuff, but the basic principles can easily translate to any setting, like medieval fantasy or futuristic sci-fi.

As for coming up with interesting characters, get on youtube and look for videos about Joseph Campbell and The Hero's Journey (or better yet, read his book "Hero with a Thousand Faces"). He basically breaks down how every main character from "Star Wars" to "Die Hard" to "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" is based on mythology from 10,000 years ago. Most natural writers just create characters out of thin air, and yet they almost always conform to one of the basic archetypes that Campbell lays out. In general, try to base the plot around the characters, rather then the characters around the plot.

Finally, there's grammar. Please don't skimp on the grammar. Nothing says "amatuer" like misspelled words and wrong punctuation. If you have a friend or family member who is very particular about grammar, try to recruit them. You can probably get their services for free, because most "grammar nazis" are so bothered by grammatical errors that they simply can't help but correct them.
 
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TheGentlemanLoser

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I'm sorry to be this guy but the misspelling of the word "writing" in the OP looks really not good.

Edit: better, but the plural of 'writing' is traditionally 'writing'. 'Writings' is not incorrect only in a few edge cases, it's a fine grammatical shading.

You can probably get their services for free, because most "grammar nazis" are so bothered by grammatical errors that they simply can't help but correct them.

I feel attacked.
 
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