Posted by Alex Jordan on
I'd really love to work on a game with an honest-to-God plot in the near future, perhaps when I finish up Project Squish. I love writing, and being both the writer and lead designer of a story-driven game sounds like a match made in heaven for me, so long as I don't bite off more than I can chew.
I have a very low opinion of most games' writing, which, of course, gets compared to my very high and very biased opinion of my own writing. As such, I'd relish the opportunity to make a well-plotted, tightly-written game and knock it out of the park. But, let's be frank: I've only written one thing at length, which was my college thesis, albeit one in the form of a fictional techno-thriller. And I don't ever, ever want to publish that thing. I'm embarrassed enough that it's archived somewhere at American University, and someone could actually read it one day. The funny thing is that I considered myself a good writer when I set out and actually wrote the Goddamn thing, and that I made a list of writing crutches beforehand that I specifically wanted to avoid. Rereading my thesis, I accidentally used almost all of those crutches that I criticize other authors for.
In the interest of keeping me honest, here's a partial list of modern fiction writing crutches that I really want to avoid when I start writing for a game:
- Hearts do not "skip a beat," okay? If yours does, go see a doctor. You may have a very serious medical condition that in no way correlates to suspense or surprise.
- Also, if you "break into a cold sweat" in real life, you probably have the flu, a virus, menopause, or, uh... AIDS.
- Also, eyes do not "glaze over," "twinkle," or "glimmer" with some concrete emotion. If this occurs outside of fiction, check for cataracts.
- People are always "rubbing the sleep out of their eyes" and "stifling a yawn"
- Orders are always "barked"
- When is the last time you ever saw someone "smile grimly" in real life?
- Guns are typically referred to as using "clips" instead of the proper "magazines." I don't mean to be pedantic, but they're two specific things. Go ahead, use "magazine." Your readers will thank you for teaching them how to use homonyms.
- People are always "necking", as opposed to simply "making out." The 1950s are that way.
- Sex scenes - which I do not want to write - are always both purposefully vague and (somehow!) ruthlessly clinical. I swear to Christ, you will not see the phrase "pubic mound" anywhere except for a sex scene written by a creepy white guy author of advanced age. I'm looking at you, Ken Follett.
On the subject of physical appearances, I almost added a bullet to encompass turning pale or white. However, everyone else that knows me seems perfectly capable of telling when someone looks pale or not, even though I can't. Maybe I'm just the least observant person ever. Am I also missing vaunted eye twinkles? I need to know!