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> [-Writing-] How to Write a Story, So that you can awe people enough to play your game...
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Kaptain J
post Feb 25 2010, 04:15 PM
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How to Write a Story
By Kaptain J


Theme

One very important element in story-telling is to present a theme that will reach the readers on a personal level. Themes have the power to change how people live their lives. However, do not directly state the theme. Hide it well within the story, so that it's something the reader eventually finds out on their own.

Plot

The plot of the story, most of the time, includes conflict of some sort. And, most of the time, the protagonist is the one most affected by this conflict. The conflict can be with another character, like a damsel in distress (Mario, Zelda, etc.), or a family member (Mother 3); It could be about what is going on with the world around the protagonist, like a country run by a corrupt leader (Fire Emblem); Or it could be a conflict within the protagonist, like feelings, a split personality, or a demon sealed within.

The protagonist should win in the long run, but also lose along the way. In order to fiddle with the reader's emotions, make disaster strike for the protagonist, such as the death of a loved one. The theme of the story is often portrayed by this element, since the protagonist often learns from it. However, watch out for clichés.

After the disaster, make the rest of the story more and more exciting as it reaches the climax. After that, lessen the tension, as you present the resolution. This should be the point in the story where everything is resolved, and, as they say in fairy tales, "everyone lived happily ever after."

Character Development

Before you begin writing the story itself, you should make sure you have your characters down right. If you don't, then you, most likely, will have to do a LOT of editing.

First of all, make sure your protagonist is someone the reader feels for. At the very least, make them likable. If the reader isn't interested in the protagonist, they will probably stop there. However, NEVER make the protagonist Mr. Perfect! If they're perfect, the reader will almost never find them interesting. So make sure they have at least one flaw.

Next, take good care of the support characters. Make sure they're likable and interesting, for starters. If they are completely and utterly uninteresting, the reader will think that they have no point in being included in the story. Many good stories include a love interest that the reader could even fall for. Similarly, many stories include a character that the readers despise. It's this kind of character development that keeps the readers reading.

Last, but not least, make sure you have a well-developed antagonist. Give the protagonist a reason to be entangled into the story's conflict. The antagonist should be on the opposing end of the protagonist. For example, the protagonist has a loved one killed. The antagonist could be the one who killed them. Of course, you should try avoiding cliches. Make the antagonist your own. Give the antagonist a motive. Maybe they have a loved one who was killed, so they seek revenge, by any means necessary. Or, maybe they are merely following orders. Try to avoid the old clichés of ruling the world or gaining the ultimate power, though. However, if you do use a cliché, make sure you execute it well, so it doesn't seem too much like what has already been done.

The Story's Structure

All stories need a good beginning, middle, and end. Think of it as an inverted check mark. The beginning is the set-up to the story. This part usually introduces the protagonist, and often, where you jump right into the action. The middle arises after the first crisis. During the middle, you should increase the tension more and more, as you approach the climax. And, in the end, you should resolve everything, resulting in the tension going back to its starting point.

Points-Of-View

Think about what point-of-view you want to be writing in.

First-Person

If you are telling the story, and you only use the pronoun "I," your story is in first-person. This is usually what you use for school essays, in which you recall a past event in your life.

Third-Person

If you tell the story as if it's all about other people, and you use other pronouns, such as "he," "she," "they," or "it," your story is in third-person. This is the most widely used form.


Third-Person Omniscient

If you tell the story as if you were a god, narrating for more than one character, as if you knew everything that happens and everything the characters are thinking, your story would be Third-Person Omniscient. This is used mostly for epic stories, such as Lord of the Rings.

Second-Person

Rarely, but not never, has second-person been done. This would be where the protagonists are referred to by a secondary narration, and uses the pronoun "you." An example of this would be a story in which a narrator is telling you what YOU are doing, like "you give your reasoning, and you wait for an answer."

Of course, you should probably go with third-person...

If you chose third-person, you should tell the story through the eyes of one character. This is usually the protagonist. If you want to, flip over to another character, and tell something through the eyes of them.

The Story's Setting

Make sure that the story is set in a time and place that the reader would be interested in. Your story could take place in the far-off future, on other planets. Or, you could create your own universe, where the sky's the limit. There are many different settings to choose from. Just make sure you know your audience first.

Style and Tone of the Language

Write the story in language that makes sense to the reader. For example, if the story takes place in America:

What to do:

John: I think I've finally figured it out!
Lucy: Figured what out? That you're crazy?
John: The president isn't trying to help this country. He's trying to run it straight into the ground!
Lucy: Now I REALLY think you're crazy...

What NOT to do:

John: Alas! Bithinken have I, aboute thy fathom of thine examinement!
Lucy: Fathom? Fathom thine insanity?
John: Thy leader is not attempting to aide thy country. Thy leader desires destruction of thy country!
Lucy: Thus, I FASTE fathom thine insanity...


At the right times, describe what is happening, rather than using dialogue. For example:

What to do:

She touched her lips gently to mine. I felt a wave of euphoria, and all I could do was embrace her in my arms. I wished this moment could last forever.

What NOT to do:

John: You touched your lips gently to mine. I felt a wave of euphoria, and all I could do was embrace you in my arms. I wished this moment could last forever.
Lucy: Why are you telling me this?


Remember, you don't have to be the world's fanciest writer to be the world's best writer. Make your sentences easy to read and understand. For example:

What to do:

John: I think I've finally figured it out!
Lucy: Figured what out? That you're crazy?
John: The president isn't trying to help this country. He's trying to run it straight into the ground!
Lucy: Now I REALLY think you're crazy...

What NOT to do:

John: I believe that I have come to the conclusion of that which I was attempting to ascertain!
Lucy: Ascertain what? That you are insane?
John: Helping this country is not what the president desires. He is attempting to scurry it directly into the earth!
Lucy: It is now that I realize how exceptionally occupied you are with insanity...


However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't write well. A thesaurus can show you the difference between a masterpiece and an elementary school paper...

Also, check every word, phrase, sentence, and paragraph you've written. Is it the best you can write? Is it even needed?

Write Naturally

Write the way normal people would talk. Don't try too hard sounding "smart." Especially in narratives. In dialogue, it's not completely out of bounds to write differently if, say, that's the character's personality. But it's unnecessary in narratives. If you write well, you will sound "smart." In fact, you will get a broader audience by writing simple than by writing complex. Believe me. I read the Scarlet Letter...

More About Dialogue

Pace It Well

Make sure your dialogue is well-paced. You don't want it to be too fast or too slow.

Keep It Interesting

Make your dialogue interesting. If it's interesting, obviously, people will enjoy reading it.

Make It Character-Based

Make sure your dialogue is based on character. Don't make an English professor sound like Forrest Gump...

Remember, Punctuation is Your Friend

Do NOT be afraid of using punctuation in your story!

Honestly...I see punctuation problems WAY too often, so this section could be of major use...

All About the Commas

Your English teacher may have told you differently, but in an actually story, commas are placed in many places, in order to make it seem more natural. Here are the rules when using commas:

1. Use a comma to separate the elements in a series (three or more things), including the last two. "John bought some cake, ate some, and gave the rest to Lucy." In school, you may have learned that the comma before the "and" isn't necessary. This is fine, if you're in control of things. However, there are situations when, if you don't use this comma (especially when the list is complex or lengthy), these last two elements may be seen as a part of each other. Using a comma before the "and" will avoid this problem. This comma is often referred to as is the serial comma or the Oxford comma.

2. Use a comma and a conjunction (and, but, for, nor, yet, or, so) to connect two independent clauses, such as "John wants to be a writer, but he must get an education." Some writers leave out the comma if the conjunction is adequate separation. However, it is probably best to use the comma, since it is never wrong, in this case. Also, one of the most common errors in comma usage is the placement of a comma after the conjunction. It isn't necessarily a wrong thing to do, but it's rare that we would have to follow the conjunction with a comma. When we speak, we sometimes pause after a conjunction. But there is rarely a reason to put a comma there.

3. Use a comma to set off introductory elements. For example, "Glancing both ways, John decided to cross the road." In some cases, it is acceptable to omit the comma. But I suggest using it always, as you can never go wrong.

Also, an adverbial clause that begins a sentence is set off with a comma:

Although Queasybreath had spent several years in Antarctica, he still bundled up warmly in the brisk autumns of Ohio.
Because Tashonda had learned to study by herself, she was able to pass the entrance exam.


When an adverbial clause comes later on in the sentence, however, the writer must determine if the clause is essential to the meaning of the sentence or not. A "because clause" can be particularly troublesome in this regard. In most sentences, a "because clause" is essential to the meaning of the sentence, and it will not be set off with a comma:

The Okies had to leave their farms in the midwest because the drought conditions had ruined their farms.

Sometimes, though, the "because clause" must be set off with a comma to avoid misreading:

I knew that President Nixon would resign that morning, because my sister-in-law worked in the White House and she called me with the news.

Without that comma, the sentence says that Nixon's resignation was the fault of my sister-in-law. Nixon did not resign because my sister-in-law worked in the White House, so we set off that clause to make the meaning clearly parenthetical.

4. Grammar English's Famous Rule of Punctuation: Never use only one comma between a subject and its verb. "Believing completely and positively in oneself is essential for success." Although readers might pause after the word "oneself," there is no reason to put a comma there.

5. Use a comma to separate coordinate adjectives. You could think of this as "That tall, distinguished, good looking fellow" rule (as opposed to "the little old lady"). If you can put an "and" or a "but" between the adjectives, a comma will probably belong there. For instance, you could say, "He is a tall and distinguished fellow" or "I live in a very old and run-down house." So you would write, "He is a tall, distinguished man" and "I live in a very old, run-down house." But you would probably not say, "She is a little and old lady," or "I live in a little and purple house," so commas would not appear between little and old or between little and purple.

6. Use commas to set off phrases that express contrast. A few examples are:

"Some say the world will end in ice, not fire."
"It was her money, not her charm or personality, that first attracted him."
"The puppies were cute, but very messy."


(Some writers will leave out the comma that sets off a contrasting phrase beginning with but.)

7. Use a comma to avoid confusion. This is often a matter of consistently applying rule #3. Here are a few examples:

"For most the year is already finished."
"For most, the year is already finished."
"Outside the lawn was cluttered with hundreds of broken branches."
"Outside, the lawn was cluttered with hundreds of broken branches."


Here's a quote from the great Oscar Wilde:

"I have spent most of the day putting in a comma and the rest of the day taking it out."

8. Typographical Reasons: Between a city and a state [Hartford, Connecticut], a date and the year [June 15, 1997], a name and a title when the title comes after the name [Bob Downey, Professor of English], in long numbers [5,456,783 and $14,682], etc. Although you will often see a comma between a name and suffix — Bob Downey, Jr., Richard Harrison, III — this comma is no longer regarded as necessary by most copy editors, and some individuals — such as Martin Luther King Jr. — never used a comma there at all.

Note that we use a comma or a set of commas to make the year parenthetical when the date of the month is included:

July 4, 1776, is regarded as the birth date of American liberty.

Without the date itself, however, the comma disappears:

July 1776 was one of the most eventful months in our history.

In international or military format, no commas are used:

The Declaration of Independence was signed on 4 July 1776.

9. Use a comma to set off quoted elements. Because we don't use quoted material all the time, even when writing, this is probably the most difficult rule to remember in comma usage. It is a good idea to find a page from an article that uses several quotations, photocopy that page, and keep it in front of you as a model when you're writing. Generally, use a comma to separate quoted material from the rest of the sentence that explains or introduces the quotation:

Summing up this argument, Peter Coveney writes, "The purpose and strength of the romantic image of the child had been above all to establish a relation between childhood and adult consciousness."

If an attribution of a quoted element comes in the middle of the quotation, two commas will be required. But be careful not to create a comma splice in so doing.

"The question is," said Lucy, "whether you can make words mean so many things."
"I should like to buy an egg, please," she said timidly
. "How do you sell them?"

Be careful not to use commas to set off quoted elements introduced by the word that or quoted elements that are embedded in a larger structure:

Peter Coveney writes that "[t]he purpose and strength of . . ."
We often say "Sorry" when we don't really mean it.


And, instead of a comma, use a colon to set off explanatory or introductory language from a quoted element that is either very formal or long (especially if it's longer than one sentence):

Peter Coveney had this to say about the nineteenth-century's use of children
in fiction
: "The purpose and strength of . . . . "

10. Use a comma to set off parenthetical elements, as in "The Founders Bridge, which spans the Connecticut River, is falling down." By "parenthetical element," we mean a part of a sentence which can be removed without changing the essential meaning of that sentence. The parenthetical element is sometimes called "added information." This is the most difficult rule in punctuation because it is sometimes unclear what is "added" or "parenthetical" and what is essential to the meaning of a sentence.

Appositives are almost always treated as parenthetical elements.

John's ambition, to become a goalie in professional soccer, is within his reach.
Lucy, his wife of thirty years, suddenly decided to open her own business.


Sometimes the appositive and the word it identifies are so closely related that the comma can be omitted, as in "His wife Lucy suddenly decided to open her own business." We could argue that the name "Lucy" is not essential to the meaning of the sentence (assuming he has only one wife), and that would suggest that we can put commas both before and after the name (and that would also be correct), but "his wife" and "Lucy" are so close that we can regard the entire phrase as one unit and leave out the commas. With the phrase turned around, however, we have a more definite parenthical element and the commas are necessary: "Lucy, his wife, suddenly decided to open her own business." Consider, also, the difference between "College President John voted to rescind the withdrawal policy" (in which we need the name "John" or the sentence doesn't make sense) and "John, the college president, voted to rescind the withdrawal policy" (in which the sentence makes sense without his title, the appositive, and we treat the appositive as a parenthetical element, with a pair of commas).

When a parenthetical element — an interjection, adverbial modifier, or even an adverbial clause — follows a coordinating conjunction used to connect two independent clauses, we do not put a comma in front of the parenthetical element.

The Red Sox were leading the league at the end of May, but of course, they always do well in the spring. [no comma after "but"]
The Yankees didn't do so well in the early going, but frankly, everyone expects them to win the season. [no comma after "but"]
The Tigers spent much of the season at the bottom of the league, and even though they picked up several promising rookies, they expect to be there again next year. [no comma after "and"]


When both a city's name and that city's state or country's name are mentioned together, the state or country's name is treated as a parenthetical element.

We visited Hartford, Connecticut, last summer.
Paris, France, is sometimes called "The City of Lights."


When the state becomes a possessive form, this rule is no longer followed:

Hartford, Connecticut's investment in the insurance industry is well known.

Also, when the state or country's name becomes part of a compound structure, the second comma is dropped:

Heublein, a Hartford, Connecticut-based company, is moving to another state.

An absolute phrase is always treated as a parenthetical element, as is an interjection. An addressed person's name is also always parenthetical. Be sure, however, that the name is that of someone actually being spoken to. A separate section on Vocatives, the various forms that a parenthetical element related to an addressed person's name can take, is also available.

Their years of training now forgotten, the soldiers broke ranks.
Yes, it is always a matter, of course, of preparation and attitude.
I'm telling you, Lucy, I couldn't be more surprised. (I told Lucy I couldn't be more surprised. [no commas])


11. Use Commas With Caution!

As you can see, there are many reasons for using commas, and these aren't even all of them. Yet the biggest problem that most students have with commas is their overuse. Some essays look as though the student loaded a shotgun with commas and blasted away. Remember, too, that a pause in reading is not always a reliable reason to use a comma. Try not to use a comma unless you can apply a specific rule from this tutorial to do so.

Closing Statements

Don't forget to tap into your readers' emotions...

Clichés are OK, as long as you add a new flavor, so that it doesn't seem too much like what has already been done.

This post has been edited by Kaptain J: Feb 21 2011, 04:07 AM


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MenaKatep
post Mar 4 2010, 09:08 PM
Post #2



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QUOTE (Kaptain J @ Feb 25 2010, 01:15 PM) *
However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't right well. A thesaurus can show you the difference between a masterpiece and an elementary school paper...



Very nice tutorial. =] Ehhhh... perhaps, this will help some of the more dialogue challenged~! ^^ Now, maybe this will motivate me to finish my tutorial on the use of punctuation T_T

Logan


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Kaptain J
post Mar 4 2010, 09:26 PM
Post #3


Death says "Hi"
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Thanks!

...Dammit! I didn't see that tongue.gif Thanks for pointing that out...


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MenaKatep
post Mar 4 2010, 10:17 PM
Post #4



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QUOTE (Kaptain J @ Mar 4 2010, 06:26 PM) *
Thanks!

...Dammit! I didn't see that tongue.gif Thanks for pointing that out...


It's all good xDD I was reading it and I reread that sentence like 4 times before I was like SOB I know what's sounds funny. biggrin.gif


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MagicKid
post Mar 8 2010, 05:26 PM
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You have saved the community. We are sometimes a bucketload of cliches. (Well, I am.) Thanks, this'll help the newbies.


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I'm back! And I'm more mature than the last time you saw me. I hope.
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Kaptain J
post Mar 8 2010, 05:36 PM
Post #6


Death says "Hi"
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QUOTE (MagicKid @ Mar 8 2010, 11:26 AM) *
You have saved the community.


Thanks! I feel special tongue.gif ...


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MagicKid
post Mar 8 2010, 05:44 PM
Post #7


I walk into walls.
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Cuz you are, evil-apple-with-tongue-and-fangs tongue.gif


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QUOTE (CUTmayne @ Aug 4 2010, 01:20 AM) *
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mudducky
post Mar 8 2010, 09:39 PM
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Great tutorial Kaptain J! You've covered really good points. smile.gif


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Kaptain J
post Mar 8 2010, 09:43 PM
Post #9


Death says "Hi"
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Type: Writer
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QUOTE (mudducky @ Mar 8 2010, 03:39 PM) *
Great tutorial Kaptain J! You've covered really good points. smile.gif

Thanks. And I'll cover more, if I think of anything else...


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Joerao
post Mar 9 2010, 01:40 AM
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Quite an informative tutorial. Your examples with John and Lucy were pretty amusing, as well.


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Harmill
post Mar 9 2010, 06:05 AM
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Nice tutorial, and here's my comments.

Something a couple of my writing teachers told me is that you shouldn't write with a specific theme in mind. It supposedly leads to a more preachy story which readers/players find annoying. Write a story and a theme should rise out on its own. Since I've never completed a story before, I can't say how credible this is so I'm curious as to your thoughts on this? Theme has always been something that troubles me.

QUOTE
At the right times, describe what is happening, rather than telling it. For example:

What to do:

She touched her lips gently to mine. I felt a wave of euphoria, and all I could do was embrace her in my arms. I wished this moment could last forever.

What NOT to do:

John: OMG! You're kissing me! I'm sooooooooo happy...I'm gonna hug you! Please don't stop...


I know the point you're trying to make here but dialog is 'showing' not 'telling' so your example of what NOT to do is equally viable as something you SHOULD do. Instead just make John's line more believable, since yours was a little over the top. Telling would be, "She kissed me gently and all I could do was embrace her in my arms."
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Kaptain J
post Mar 9 2010, 02:00 PM
Post #12


Death says "Hi"
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Type: Writer
Alignment: Lawful Evil




QUOTE (Kaptain J @ Feb 25 2010, 10:15 AM) *
Theme

One very important element in story-telling is to present a theme that will reach the readers on a personal level. Themes have the power to change how people live their lives. However, do not directly state the theme. Hide it well within the story, so that it's something the reader eventually finds out on their own.


I think your point is already in here...

Also, you've got it wrong about the dialogue. I'm not saying NEVER use dialogue for anything, I'm just saying to use descriptive narration at the right times. In my example, the two people are in an intimate moment, and is not appropriate for someone to talk. And...sure...my example was a bit over the top tongue.gif ...Tell ya what, I'm gonna change that (while keeping it amusing).

QUOTE (Harmill @ Mar 9 2010, 12:05 AM) *
Telling would be, "She kissed me gently and all I could do was embrace her in my arms."



By the way, I don't think anyone would ever put that phrase as dialogue. Unless, of course, the guy was telling someone what happened last night, or something...


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Harmill
post Mar 9 2010, 05:14 PM
Post #13



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I didn't read that theme paragraph as you intended. It sounded more like you were telling the writer to put a theme in the story but just to hide it. It's still writing with a theme in mind if you ask me though, but I'll just leave that alone now.

My quotes were to separate the example from the rest of the sentence. It was not meant to be read as dialog.
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Kaptain J
post Mar 9 2010, 05:36 PM
Post #14


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Oh, that's what you meant. Well, I've never thought of that. Although, I think you should still think of a theme. If not when you start, you should at least come up with something along the way...

I'm not so sure I understand what you mean. I'm talking about how, sometimes, you should use descriptive language. I say "showing" to mean that you describe what is going on. I say "telling" to mean that you use dialogue to have someone say what is going on.


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Harmill
post Mar 9 2010, 07:03 PM
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'Show, Don't Tell' is the classic advice given to writers. Both descriptive language and dialog are considered 'showing'. Dialog is never 'telling' because dialog is a character actively showing his personality. The point I was trying to make was that in your example of what TO do and what NOT to do, you were trying to get the reader to edge towards using descriptive passages (which is good), but then you were driving them away from using dialog. The dialog in your example was quite over the top and when compared side by side with your better written example of descriptive language, it effectively makes whoever's reading the tutorial think to stay away from dialog. I guess all I'm trying to say is: if you're trying to tell the reader not to 'tell', I wouldn't use dialog as an example because dialog is actually 'showing'.

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Kaptain J
post Mar 9 2010, 08:24 PM
Post #16


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I understand. However, I wasn't drawing people away from using dialogue. I was merely telling them that there are good places to include dialogue, and bad places.

Also, telling the story and showing the story can both have dialogue. Showing a story just makes it more dramatic.

I do need to change how I advised that, though. As cliche as the saying may be, I was never taught that in school. I finally understand its meaning, though. So, I'll change it. Sorry for the confusion tongue.gif.


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nigromante
post Mar 9 2010, 08:37 PM
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2 things:

1) You spelled Development wrong.
2:

QUOTE
What NOT to do:

John: Alas! Bithinken have I, aboute thy fathom of thine examinement!
Lucy: Fathom? Fathom thine insanity?
John: Thy leader is not attempting to aide thy country. Thy leader desires destruction of thy country!
Lucy: Thus, I FASTE fathom thine insanity...


Are you kidding me? This would be a hit! xD
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Kaptain J
post Mar 9 2010, 08:53 PM
Post #18


Death says "Hi"
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Type: Writer
Alignment: Lawful Evil




I spelled it wrong!? Dammit! My computer usually picks up on stuff like that...


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MagicKid
post Mar 10 2010, 07:39 PM
Post #19


I walk into walls.
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Type: Writer
Alignment: Chaotic Evil




QUOTE
John: You touched your lips gently to mine. I felt a wave of euphoria, and all I could do was embrace you in my arms. I wished this moment could last forever.
Lucy: Why are you telling me this?

I love you for that xD

This post has been edited by MagicKid: Mar 10 2010, 07:40 PM


--------------------
QUOTE (CUTmayne @ Aug 4 2010, 01:20 AM) *
paying for rm resources is like paying for porn.

I'm back! And I'm more mature than the last time you saw me. I hope.
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Kaptain J
post Mar 11 2010, 05:16 AM
Post #20


Death says "Hi"
Group Icon


Type: Writer
Alignment: Lawful Evil




Thanks! You flatter me tongue.gif.


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