Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Writing found elsewhere

Just read an interesting article at Grantland, found here: http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/9097228/tom-bissell-interviews-ken-levine-mind-bioshock

I love video games and in the same breath I'll tell you they're largely useless. They don't inspire, they don't assist creation, they don't do much more than kill time. But I like killing time and I like being lazy and I really like controlling pixelated hockey players on a TV screen. So video games are good by me in moderation. I don't recommend this article for its video game value though. I think it's a great piece about the craft of writing seen through a different lens. The Bioshock series has always stood out as a cool, eerie shooter in a genre littered with war simulations and alien shooters. Its stories are great, but its atmospheres are even better.

Ken Levine details this process in a number of great quotes, but here's my favorite:

When I was working on Thief with Doug Church, way, way back in the day, we always said that vibe was more important than story. I think that's the same thing as what you're saying. Put the player in an interesting world and make him feel like there's interesting things around the corner. That's way more important than specific details about what's going on.
There are gamers, certainly, who really dig into the details, and God love 'em, because they're the ones you get to sit down and talk with in depth about your game story. But people need a sense of what's going on, and it's our job as writers to make sure they have enough of a sense so it doesn't become a barrier. Just put them in a world with as much visual information as you can, without overwhelming them, and let them bathe in it.

Feels so true. Especially for sci-fi and fantasy. Vibe and atmosphere are so important and I feel like a lot of people who write at my level scoff at such and say they just want to write a story. Well that's great, but if you're going to write in an escapist genre, shouldn't your story let the reader, y'know, escape? 

There are a few other good quotes in there so do yourself a favor and check it out.

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