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On Writing: Creating a World vs Telling a Story

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Chronopolis

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On my journey to try and write a complete story, I found it incredibly satisfying creating my story's universe. Mostly characters, relevant parties, and cause and effect. So after a few months of creating, I end up with a decent amount of details and a fair chunk of my story plot filled in.
 
But I haven't written a story. In fact, I haven't even completed a single scene in it's entirety.
Strange.
 
These "details", feel so integral to the story. I feel like I'm creating the story. And yet when I google "how to writing", everything is dead focused on the scene: making the perfect scene, the build-up of scenes, scene dialogue, etc.
 
It seems like our focuses are different.
 
Anyways, without going into how modern writing is too presentation focused, let me lay out these two contrasting features which constitute a story.
 
A World
 
The world of a story is its own characters, and their thoughts, interactions, histories, and details.
And a timeline of events with explanation of cause and effect.
 
To me as a writer, a world is already the story. Creating the locations, characters, and happenings. Just like how facts and forensic evidence can tell a story, the existence of this separate world, it's characters and events makes it a story to me.
 

Telling a Story

However, there is another huge element in stories. That is, how we convey them.

When we talk about a good writer, we often applaud their gripping text, captivating storylines. A good part of that is the art of presentation. The first implication of presentation is that of selection. Not every fact and character's thought reaches the reader's eyes, and certainly not every cause and effect is layed out.
 
A story consists of a series of scenes which convey the journey, and also bring the reader through the build-up and through the climax of the story.
 
Beyond that, a story has description, which helps the reader to imagine the scene and put them there
 
A scene can have a mood, which immerses the player. It's possible to like a scene just for it's mood. Note this mood is a very subjective thing which is both conveyed and imagined. A mood might also might suggest something about the character's lines of thoughts, or it might connect to the punch line of the scene.
 
A narrator can use different tones, which achieve similar effect to a mood. For example, the ironic tone in the narration of the post apocalyptic world SukaSuka encourages us to grin painfully as we hear about curious history and the downfall of foolish parties, deserving and tragic alike. A caustic tone in another post-apocalyptic story could be emphasizing to the reader that human lives matters little here. Of course, the writer could offer up these ideas directly, but a tone or mood simply hints at them.
 
Mostly what these things contribute to is to bestow an experience to the player. This is a subjective experience which is distinct from the world that the author created. Before you think I'm saying "objective rulz", I note that it is possible for a story's universe to have certain emotions or ideas that permeate through it, which the author was trying to convey in the first place.
 
I guess this is why they talk about stories often having an over-arching message. I personally am not a big fan of stories having a primary message, though that it is definitely something which can be done. However, even without having a message, stories usually end up effectively talking about something. This is because they inspire us to think about the phenomena/conflict that they depict.
 
 
In closing, my fellow VN readers, I leave you with this. Think about a story you've read or are writing.
 
Does the world exist for the sake of the telling, or does the telling exist on behalf of conveying the world? 
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I'd say some of the most compelling stories I've seen relied on having a consistent, living worlds in which the protagonist(s) was only one cog in the machine. The world that felt like something characters acted upon and were influenced by, and not just a background placed there to accomodate them, but never binding them to its rules. And I think making such a setting is impossible without careful planning and the author having a pretty comprehensive vision of it. This broad conceptualition and more concrete scene-building should be in constant "dialogue" with each other - something that I think is very rarely done in VNs and anime, as consistency and logic are quite commonly thrown out of the window for the sake of convenience. And I'm exactly the kind of pedantic reader that gets trigerred by a story that breaks its own rules and kills my immersion. :wafuu:

Edited by Plk_Lesiak

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7 hours ago, Plk_Lesiak said:

I'd say some of the most compelling stories I've seen relied on having a consistent, living worlds in which the protagonist(s) was only one cog in the machine. The world that felt like something characters acted upon and were influenced by, and not just a background placed there to accomodate them, but never binding them to its rules. And I think making such a setting is impossible without careful planning and the author having a pretty comprehensive vision of it. This broad conceptualition and more concrete scene-building should be in constant "dialogue" with each other - something that I think is very rarely done in VNs and anime, as consistency and logic are quite commonly thrown out of the window for the sake of convenience. And I'm exactly the kind of pedantic reader that gets trigerred by a story that breaks its own rules and kills my immersion. :wafuu:

Yeah, like a living world where certain parts of the setting seem to be moving their own way. I can only think of one story I've read which fits that bill.

Even in a story with much smaller world-building I think a setting and it's characters needs to be something the protagonist wanders through and bumps into, not something they finish like an RPG dungeon. I enjoy stories focused on a cast of characters because they tend to naturally fulfill this criteria.

Perhaps having primarily consumed VN's and JP media, I'm not that picky about behind-the-scenes logic and minor plot inconsistencies, but when a story breaks its own rules... that just weakens it.

 

Edited by Chronopolis

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