Tips for Starting a New Story

At this point in my life, most of the writing I’m doing is SimsLit. Although this advice was written for other Sims writers, I think some of it can be taken for general creative writing purposes as well. This article was originally posted on my blog at SimsWriters.com.


 

One of my readers asked for my help with starting a new story. He said he didn’t have any ideas and wanted me to brainstorm with him, but to his surprise (and mine) he had more ideas than he thought! I think he just needed a sounding board and a bit of encouragement. I’m not an expert on crafting stories, but I just thought I would share with you all and elaborate on what I told him.

This guy had a very generic idea and just a few plot points. For the way I craft stories, this is all you really need! The rest will come later. You don’t necessarily need to have grand ideas all at once. I think it depends on how your story will unfold and the way you plan to write it. I will outline three different methods you can employ to begin your story using terms you may be familiar with from your life as a consumer. Every writer has his or her own methods. These are just some of mine.

No Money Down

You can start some stories with zero ideas! Legacies and other gameplay challenges are perfect for this. These stories have pre-determined scenarios, rules, and restrictions. The game pretty much gives you all of your material, and the stories practically write themselves. All you have to do is capture what happens and bring it to life with your own voice and personality. Screenshots are extremely important in these stories, and often times they drive the story. Many times the text supports the pictures. Along the way, you will probably think up different scenarios you’d like to see happen, and that’s perfectly fine. It adds variety to the story and may even spark some drama and mystery!

Some Assembly Required

This one is kind of a hybrid between the two methods. Sometimes all you have are fractions of ideas, and that’s ok! Fractions are great to get you started. They build a framework for the story. These kinds of stories are partially driven by you and partially driven by what happens in the game. So, for example, you could say, “I want to write a story about an angry old man that doesn’t like people, but this cute kid likes him and always comes to his house and eventually befriends the man.” Great! Create an elder in CAS, give him the hot headed and/or mean trait, move him in a house, and let the games begin! You would probably play out his life according to his whims or whatever you want, but in the back of your mind you know eventually a child needs to enter the scene so always be on the lookout for said kid. When you see a child you like, of course you’ll need to maniputlate the situation in the background to befriend the child so he will come to the old man’s house, but the rest of the story will unfold itself with these interactions with this child. The old man will eventually die, of course, and that will end your story. laugh As far as your screenshots go, in the beginning, they will probably drive your story. Or, maybe they won’t! Maybe you choose to begin definitively. For example, you could introduce us to the old man by describing him, what he likes (or doesn’t like) to do, faces he makes, things he says, etc. If so, our old man will be “posing” for you ask you take certain pictures to illustrate and support what you’re writing. But, later on in the story, you’ll probably switch to letting the pictures tell the story. You can do it however you want. It’s your story!

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service

If you want to be really daring and creative, you may want to think up a story that is completely driven by you. In these stories, the Sims are basically actors that you stage to take screenshots for your stories. You don’t rely on screenshots at all, and you only take them for illustration. In these stories, the pictures support the text, and not the other way around. Writing these stories are basically like writing books. More than likely, if this story were told without pictures, it would still be an interesting, compelling story. You have to come up with the plot, the characters, the scenes, subplots, and everything. These stories require you to know your characters intimately because although you are writing the story, the characters drive it. As you are writing, you may come across a situation where a decision must be made, and you ask yourself, “What would [character] do?” You may want [character] to swoop in and save the world so everyone can live happily ever after, but that be may be out of character for him or her. When I write stories like these, I always write up character bios. I give them personality types, ages, favorite colors, foods, likes, dislikes, circumstances of their birth, history, family lfe, mannerisms, and everything I can think of so I can get to know this character like a friend. Because these stories are not driven by the game, it requires a bit more planning than the other two methods. You will need to plan out everything. You don’t necessarily need all your ideas when you start, but you need to have enough ideas to get you through the first few chapters seamlessly.

No matter which method you choose, keep track of your ideas! When I get ideas, I write them down or type them in a Word doc. Maybe you use an app like Evernote. Whatever your style is, capture them! Once you have a good amount of ideas, put them in order of how they should occur in your story. Now you have a solid framework for a story! You can get started now, or wait until you get more ideas. Either way, you’re well on your way to having an awesome story soon.

 

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