RPGMaker Writing for Dummies, Part 1 - Typos

Discussion in 'Non-Maker Specific Tutorials' started by HawkZombie, Sep 16, 2017.

  1. HawkZombie

    HawkZombie Lord of Shadow Veteran

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    Hello and welcome to what I hope will end up being my ‘thing’ here in the RPGMaker community.

    Before we begin, my only credentials are being a self-published writer and author. I wrote off and on for several years before trying to hone it into a career. I’ve recently published two novels under the name C.M.W. Hawkins and run a Patreon account where I write a new chapter every week in an ongoing horror novel.

    So what is this 'RPGMaker Writing for Dummies' thing?

    I am going to be dropping little lessons as well as tips and tricks for budding writers to use (and anyone else, really) to help improve what I feel is the most lacking quality of any given game: the writing.

    Many people within the community of RPGMaker have different skill sets that they utilize to create amazing projects: sprite skills, artwork via battlers and facesets, parallax mapping, programming and creating plugins, and custom soundtracks and effects.

    One thing I’ve noticed however, is that nothing is really spoken about the writing side of things. Granted, this isn’t really something one can teach; you can’t make a video about coming up with an idea and dialog like you would about using events and switches. Still, it is something that is just as important as those other skills I listed above, and with the right advice and proper guidance, anyone can become better at it.

    TODAY'S LESSON: The Dreaded TYPO *Dramatic Music*

    Many games these days have great visuals, spot-on battles, and pitch-perfect sound tracks. Yet, they seem to be plagued with 'Mixed' reviews. The main culprit of this is grammatical errors in the writing. Not a 'teh' here or there, but several glaring issues that ruin the immersion. I will aim to help writers recognize these errors, and how to best deal with correcting them.

    What prompted this? I, personally, have seen several games on Steam that looked visually appealing, and even had an incredibly well-done trailer, but had comments like this:

    The one common theme in all these reviews is probably one of the easiest to fix.

    TYPOS. Like Bed bugs, but less itchy.

    Before anything else, I will suggest you do -not- write all of your dialog directly into the game as your only existing copy. You will go absolutely mad as a hatter trying to proofread and correct from there. I plan on releasing an advice post about how to write your story soon, so look for tips there...as for right now? Keep it all a separate document that you can copy and paste from.

    Let me start off by saying no one is perfect. I am certainly not, and when I write, my work is FILLED with typos and mistakes. Usually it is because I am going so quickly that I don’t even notice. Other times it is because I’m not 100% sure how to spell a word or which punctuation to use. At the end, typos and mistakes will exist, and your work will be peppered with them.

    So how do we recognize them, fix them, and remove as much as possible from the finished product?

    Spell Check is not God
    This one is probably the most important tip. Spell Check is an amazing tool to use to help find errors. Spelling Errors ONLY. It will not find grammatical errors, and I find most programs that DO have a grammar check don’t use a very good algorithm for it, and you can get a lot of false positives because it thinks it is doing the right thing. Spell check your work, but then be ready to really go over it.

    How to recognize a typo? The easiest step!

    The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
    The quick drown fox jumped over the lazy dog.


    Can you spot the difference? It seems fairly obvious when I have them side by side like this. The typo, obviously, is the word that doesn't belong/is spelled incorrectly. But, imagine this line is six hours deep into your game, and you've been looking at the script for the past four. Chances are...you might miss it. But I'll get to that in a moment.

    Alright, my pointing out the typo was over-explaining the concept too much. Ok, I'll concede to that. So the real first step is one you should already be doing yourself: Going over your work again. I personally like to let a project (novel or otherwise) ‘rest’ for a few days before I go back in to seek out errors and the like. You can usually find a great deal of them with just going at it with a fresh pair of eyes. It’s an important step that many don’t think about doing because they feel it is finished and in their mind it is ‘good enough.’ Good enough is the difference between decent and stellar.

    As I mentioned above, imagine playing through your game, hours deep into the task, and the screen is a bit blurry. Is this really the best time to be proofreading? The more tired you are, the more your brain will try and 'compensate.' Words that are incorrect might look fine, because your brain is too tired to spot the actual difference, and goes 'close enough'. Always proofread well-rested and in good health. A runny nose is very distracting :p

    Done proofreading? Perfect. Do it again!

    Seriously.

    Only going over your work once is an amateurish mistake, and one I even made myself with my first novel. And when you go through it again, try reading everything out loud. How do the words sound? Do the commas and other punctuation affect the flow adversely? Does it sound awkward? Reading it out loud is an excellent way of finding errors that your brain may had glossed over (it happens) or seeing how the the story might not flow or come together as well as other parts. Plot and flow are topics I'll bring up in another lesson.

    Where are they, the phase plane? They’re over there, on the plain, with their wear, and they are unfazed.
    Be sure to double check words that sound correct, but actually mean something entirely. Phase vs faze, where vs wear, etc. I still make this mistake, if only because my spelling was never that great to begin with and I tend to miss it :p
    Their = They posses/own it
    They’re = They are
    There = a location, “over there”

    Ok, so you’ve done a few once-overs, you’ve read it out loud to yourself, and you’re feeling pretty confident that your story is as good as it can be.

    STOP. DO NOT PASS GO.

    Time to get more eyes on the work. Especially in a video game; you are going to have to share your work with Beta Testers. Think of them as sort of free quality assurance. It will be their task, if they are willing, to play your game to completion and give you feedback.
    • Do not take negative feedback personally, even if it is very negative. They may mean well and not know how to constructively put it, or they may be a jerk. However, there is always a kernel of truth in there.
    • In that same vein, don't take poor reviews badly, either. "It was nice." is probably the worst thing someone can hear about their work, because it tells the creator nothing. Try and ask them what parts were nice. What areas stood out as interesting, etc. You may have to do some coaxing.
    • These people are doing -you- the favor by reading your stuff or testing your game in their own free time. Be patient with them, and give plenty of time for them to complete the task. How long did it take you to play through the game? Double it for the testers.
    Don’t forget to also play through your project at least once as well. As a player. Try and get lost in it, even if you know it inside and out. You may find that one error -everyone- missed.

    Also...if you are truly serious about your project...you need to look for an editor. Either a friend willing to take on the burden for free (and who has a solid command of the English language) or someone you are willing to pay for (and they can be expensive; about 2 cents per word, which is 1,000 for a 50k word piece of work) to do the editorial stuff. It is literally their job to find each and every error in your work, and some will even go over story and plot development for you as well.

    Again, be patient with them. They are doing a far more thorough job than your beta testers will/would, and that takes time. Most professionals will have it done rather quickly, but if you have a wonderful and generous friend, give them all the time they need (within reason).

    All in all...errors will get through. Even in my published works (especially the first...ugh) there are typos that seem so stupid and easy to grab, but got through anyway because everyone missed them when they did the readings. Don’t sweat it. At least those are a rarity in an otherwise polished game, and are quick and easy fixes even after the the game is released. Providing you did your due diligence in dealing with as many typos as possible beforehand..

    Ellipses ( ...) can be written as a hard pause, or a trailing off of dialog. But be careful you don’t use them too much. It can make the dialog sound...like...William...SHAT...ner...
    +Use for a character’s death as they struggle for the words
    +Use for sudden shock!...to convey surprise and stunned silence!
    +Use to end a dramatic moment...
    -Don’t use...instead of commas...

    Thanks for reading, and I’ll do another one of these soon! Any questions or comments are welcome, and I will answer those ASAP.

    Some ideas for future ones:
    ENGLISH AS A SECOND LANGUAGE
    STORY DEVELOPMENT
    BELIEVABLE DIALOG
    HOW TO BETA TEST/READ PROPERLY


    Any other suggestions? Let me know!
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2017
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  2. starlight dream

    starlight dream Loving life...One dream at a time Veteran

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    This is a useful tutorial, because there aren't many here that tackle the writing aspect of rpg creation. I've been writing a tutorial myself about plot creation but it isn't finished yet. :p I look forward to your advice on dialogue and everything else too.^.^b

    I like that you started this series. And the content here was well organized + easy to understand.


    Typos are a common problem in indie rpgs, and because the game focuses on dialogue and storytelling, it's important to clean up the text as much as possible.
    I get more frustrated with typos than I do with poor grammar. Because the typos could've been fixed and it just shows a lack of effort from the creator. I don't mind a few here and there but too many = the maker probably didn't do a thorough play-through. So why should I play through it? If the grammar is bad I can excuse it by saying, whoever wrote this doesn't know the language. But typos are something else.

    When I read your line "The quick drown fox jumped over the lazy dog." I actually read it: brown.

    It is an ability the mind has, to recognize words by their look/length and by picking up only a few letters within the word. If I write: coincidence, your mind will speed read it, without checking every letter because it recognized a familiar word automatically.

    This is why correcting typos must be done slowly. I wouldn't advise somebody to correct their script by sitting in front of it for a few hours at a time. It's better to do small parts at a time, to maintain concentration.

    Also, we work more times on the beginning of the story, over the writing course, and that part can end up more polished than future events. I'd advise to check spelling by starting (let's say) in the middle & forward.


    Anyway... good job and thanks... until the next time.:):rock-right:
     
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  3. HawkZombie

    HawkZombie Lord of Shadow Veteran

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    @starlight dream I am so glad you liked it! I was afraid of coming across as condescending, but I'm glad that my thoughts and advice were well-taken.

    I agree: do it in spurts. You can't edit and fix an entire project (especially if you've got thousands of words and lines to go through) in one sitting, and it ties into my tip of making sure you are well-rested and ready to tackle the task.

    The next one I'm going to do is probably going to be dialog development. Since you yourself are working on a plot one, I don't want to step on any toes :p
     
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  4. evmaster

    evmaster Think Outside the Box Veteran

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    I check over a lot and I still find typos! You have pointed out good things to take note of in this tutorial.

    I too read drown as brown. ^^;
     
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  5. Alisson Pediconi Neves

    Alisson Pediconi Neves Learning more day after day... Member

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    Wow, that's really helpful!

    English is not my first language, and i learned it all by myself, sometimes i get some typos and grammar errors even in college works. It's embarassing.

    Looking for these mistakes help not to be cursed or misinterpreted, mainly because people will pay for the product. The player wants a good storyline, good gameplay, good music...etc, but no one likes typos and contextual mistakes.

    PS: i read drown as brown 2 times,lol.
     
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  6. Canini

    Canini Veteran Veteran

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    I too stared at the brown/drown sentences for a good twenty seconds before catching the difference. This is a very good tutorial for a subject that is not often elaborated on.
     
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  7. washynator

    washynator lolwut? Member

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    It was a good read! English is not my native language so naturally I will not be as good at it as someone else, but I try.
    It's funny I should find this piece right after I closed a game from this site that had so many spelling mistakes and typos that I just couldn't take it anymore.

    Now I can't blame people for having typos in their work, when English is not their first language, it's not mine either so who am I to say "get better at English", but with the game mentioned above it was just overwhelmingly jarring.

    I look forward to your next topics regarding writing! Keep up the good work and all that jazz
     
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  8. onipunk

    onipunk Archmage of Procrastination Veteran

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    Pretty useful article all in all! Poor spelling can be a huge turnoff, but honestly poor punctuation irks me more, even though I know it can be difficult for some people. Generally rule of thumb I give to people who have asked me to do editorial work for them is that if you can't logically replace the contracted word you're using with the full version of the phrase, you're not using the right punctuation. For example, if you write the sentence "the dragon opened it's mouth", the sentence would actually be "the dragon opened it is mouth" and that's not right, so the correct sentence would be "the dragon opened its mouth" since that's the form of the word that shows possession. Similarly, knowing where to place apostrophes to denote possession can be difficult to get to grips with too. "Orc's" is talking about an orc singular who possesses something, such as "the orc's sword", whereas "orcs'" is the correct plural version, such as "the orcs' armour" which in this case would be talking about the armour worn by a group of orcs. Sorry if this hijacked the thread somewhat, but it's something that gets overlooked quite a lot and goes hand-in-hand with grammar and punctuation so I thought it'd be worth a mention!
     
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