Extras,  Stories

Tagged | Story Process

I know – another post from me. Nobody wanted it, but here it is. This is actually a tumblr tag, but since it got LONG and tumblr just isn’t great for these kinds of long text posts, I decided that it belongs here. This is a tag about story process, so I don’t think it’s that far off to have it here. Like I said – it’s long and not very interesting so feel free to skip this one and rest assured you won’t miss anything except me blabbering a lot. 🙂

C h a l l e n g e | Show a certain part of your story process based on you being tagged by other creators.

I was tagged by Lila (tumblr | WP blog) who also did a post about her process. Please don’t compare my process to hers mine is a dumpster fire I’m dying. The original challenge can be found here.

 

W r i t i n g   p r o c e s s | show us a part of your script or explain how you write your scenes. Do you write in screenplay format or novel format? Etc, etc.

I obviously write in novel format. Thing is, while I love the visualisation tool that ts3 is for me, I’m first and foremost a writer and writing is what I want to do.

My writing process is the most chaotic, ridiculous thing. I HATE outlines. Absolutely can’t do them. I once outlined and wrote a whole story (20,000 words) and it was the most soulless, boring thing I’ve ever written. When I’ve outlined a story, my brain goes “Yeah, so this is done forever, nothing more to explore” and all my excitement for the story just DIES. That’s also why that sequel for CoM never happened. I ended the story, brain moves on, and got bored. I’ll probably never try to write a sequel again. (I do want to do CoM II, but if it happens, I’ll pretend it’s a brand new story and ignore the first story… also because I sort of hate the first one now. 🙃)

So my stories always just start when I sit down with an empty Word document and start writing the story. Now, this seems like pure, unbridled chaos and I guess it is. Most of the things I need to remember are in my head and a few other things are scattered around my desk in notebooks or on the computer as sticky notes, .txt-files and Excel sheets. Yes. It is chaos. Don’t @ me.

The thing is, the time other writers would spend outlining, I spend on editing afterwards. And then editing some more. And then rewriting. And editing again. Also, while writing, I edit. Sometimes I go back and re-read everything I’ve written so far and remember little details I need to add to what I’m currently writing. Or I’ll realise that a scene doesn’t work where it is and move it. Or I’ll scrap it entirely. Maybe in the middle of writing a story, I’ll figure out the big twist of the story (that was the case for generation 2 – when I started, I had no clue what it was Enzo was hiding). This obviously doesn’t necessarily work well when you publish as you go, so I always try and write ahead before I post, so that I have some idea what’s going on before I post.

It often takes a long time for my story idea to “stick”. So I’ll often write many, many versions of a story before I settle on one that really clicks with me and I save old versions in a document. Currently, the document that I have for the scrapped chapters/versions from Heartwood is longer than my original generation 1. (Same for the versions of gen 3 I’ve been trying out for a long time now).

The only outlining I might do for a story, is an outline of the chapters I’ve already written so I can see how they flow and to try and figure out where I’ll go from there. It’s how I discovered that I had two very similar chapters right next to each other in CoM.

So yeah – chaos. But it’s my chaos.

 

S c e n e   b u i l d i n g | show us you in the middle of scene building through pictures, gifs, or a video. Explain what is the best thing about scene building and what is the worst!

I can’t show my process because I’m not doing anything at the moment, buuuut I have (semi-recently) done a little Christmas thing that I made for tumblr and I think it works well to illustrate the good and the bad of building.

This is a photo shoot set, not a story set, so I didn’t build all around. When I make story sets, I like to make it look good from all (or at least most) angles, but that doesn’t really matter for this type of set, so this is what I did. Lil box in the CAS world, with trees to block out the ugly horizon. For this one, I used pine trees, but for a lot of them I abuse a specific bush from the Supernatural EP.

Because I am an Idiot™ I did the window trick with the pretty shadows + snow in this set, which results in some weird-ass shit happening. First, I couldn’t have the snow too thick or it’d cover part of the floor around the door.

Second, for some reason the table thinks it has snow on it, but only if you place transparent objects on it. 🙃 I couldn’t get around this, so I ended up having to drop several objects I considered for the table, like the snowglobe you see above. It’s the cursor on the snowglobe making it look like part of it’s gone.

So that illustrates what is bad about building: The random ass bugs that ts3 throws your way. I usually find my way around them, but they have also made me quit in rage until I feel ready to deal.

In the end, though, I think it was worth it to have the nice play of shadows and light. Generally playing with colours, light, and shadow is my favourite thing about setting up scenes.

 

C C / P o s e – m a k i n g | Do you make your own cc/poses for your scene? If so, what is your process like to create? Do you just go off the top of your head? Do you use reference photos?

I tend to write before I take photos, so I usually end up having to make some poses, but not nearly as many as some do. I get around having to make many by being lazy, lol. I’ll make maybe 6-10 poses for a chapter and then shoot them from different angles. I fill in with shots of scenery or the interior to set mood. I end up doing it like this because at the end of the day, I’m a writer first and a visual artist second.

I mostly make story objects, such as Lia’s recorder (+ the broken version of it) and the ladder I used in Teo’s apple picking scene. I’ll also edit existing objects, such as a teacup I used for one scene, which I separated into cup and saucer, so I could have Lia and Teo holding their cups. 🙂

Generally what stops me from going overboard is laziness, lol. I’ll try and find existing poses and objects when I can.

 

G e t t i n g   i n   t h e   Z o n e | What do you do to get in the zone to work on a scene? Examples include: show us your playlist you use when working on a scene, what’s your go-to scene snack/drink, etc. 

A cup of tea is a must when I’m working on scenes. To get in the mood to start working on it, I’ll often re-read the chapter to figure out what pictures I need to do.

What I listen to depends on my mood. Sometimes I’ll only listen to music. It’s either my regular playlist with whichever songs I like at the moment or it’s a game soundtrack. Other times it’s a podcast or an audio book. Yet other times, I’ll be watching Youtube videos – I used to just have my phone by the computer, but nowadays I use Firefox’s picture-in-picture mode so I can have the video in the corner of the screen and glance at the video while working. I mostly watch video essay style things so I don’t have to pay super much attention. 🙂 Often I’ll want to listen to a podcast/watch videos while building scenes/making CC, because otherwise I get too easily distracted. I’ll list some of my favourites to listen to/watch while working.

Soundtracks: Slime Rancer, The Return of the Obra Dinn, Terraria, Super Mario (especially Odyssey and Galaxy), Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair, Animal Crossing, and Unrailed!

Podcasts: Sawbones, You Must Remember This, Death in the Afternoon, My Dad Wrote a Porno, The Anthropocene Reviewed, and Writing Excuses.

Audiobooks: The Kiss Quotient (Helen Hoang), The Glamourist Histories series (Mary Robinette Kowal), Changeling series and Mystic Bayou series (Molly Harper), Reluctant Royals series (Alyssa Cole), and From Here to Eternity (Caitlin Doughty).

Youtube channels: Simply Nailogical, Simply Podlogical, Lindsay Ellis, Contrapoints, Philosophy Tube, Folding Ideas, How to Cook That, Sarah Z, and Unraveled on Polygon.

 

Screenshot Folder | Give us a look into your screenshot folder to show us just how much goes into ONE scene for your story. (Scrapped pictures encouraged!!!)

So, most of these pics aren’t even for one scene – they’re for one part of a time skip part in chapter seven of Heartwood. Out of all these, I used two pics in the final chapter.

That said, my screenshot folders are probably the only ones that aren’t chaos, though (trust me, you do not want to see my cc folders).

For each chapter I have a folder for affinity files (the software I work in – I save the files so I can re-edit if I need to), a folder for junked pictures (sometimes I’ll redo the pics for a chapter and the old version go in junked – like with my writing I don’t throw anything away), and a folder for original photos without editing. 🙂 Sometimes, I also have a folder called ‘Extras’ where I’ll put extra pics that I just post to tumblr. Normally I’d have the two first pictures in this folder in an Extras folder – no idea why I didn’t, lol.

 

C a p t i o n s | Are you a caption on the picture kind of storyteller or captions in text box type of storyteller? Why? Do you do both?

I don’t do the tumblr kind of stories with photos + captions, but if I were to do them, I’d have both photo captions and a version with text underneath it (probably on this blog). I’d want everyone to be able to read.

So far, though, I can’t see myself doing a caption story. I’ve tried SO. MANY. TIMES to get something set up and I just never get it done. I think it takes too much work because I have to do more with facial expressions and settings than I do for my novel type stories. Maybe I’ll do one some day… for now, I’ll just stick with illustrated novels. 🙂

 

E d i t i n g | explain and show us your process editing a scene through a video, gif, or picture.

Here are four pictures with before/after, showing some of the more typical things I do for photos. 🙂

For this one I’ve intensified the colours a bit, espeically the grass and the leaves on the trees – I also added the exhaust from the car and the sunlight in the right corner.

For this picture, I have both lightened it up and made the colours a little warmer. I also cropped it, because it turns out that Lia’s hairstyle looks super bad from that angle lol. You might also notice I’ve added steam to the teacup and a nicer flame to the candles in the background. 🙂 I don’t generally edit in big details, but often add easier details like these.

For this picture, you see slightly more extensive editing. The in-game lighting can only do so much to make the a nice evening scene. For this picture, I darkened the pictures and added a glow to Lia and Teo on the side wehre the light is coming from. I’ve also added a layer where I painted dark to make the room more dark, so it looks like it’s evening. 🙂

This is an example of the most extensive kind of edit I do for stories. In this picture I’ve manipulated the colours so they’re more desaturated (note teh purple sky to the left vs. the grey on on the right). I added the lightning and a rain effect as well as a glow to the lamp on the house.

For most of my chapters, editing consists mostly of adding more contrast, adjusting colour, and accentuating the game lights. Editing is probably one of my favourite things to do as it’s just so, so satisfying. 🙂

 

T h r o w b a c k | Show us an ANCIENT story scene you done in the past and explain how you would do the scene differently today!

I’m actually in a situation where I have taken an ancient story scene and done it differently. Behold – a shitty, old picture from the very first chapter of generation 1:

This was the introduction to Vittoria (oh god don’t look at Carlo’s outfit pls kill me). At this point in time, I did very washed out sets. I didn’t use as much CC and I pretty much just moved sims into premade houses with shitty EA furniture. I was still playing the game like, ya know, a game.

I obviously chose a very, very different vibe for it in the rewrite of gen 1.

These days I pay more attention to composition and little details as well as lighting. Carlo’s house is full of warm, red tones and Vittoria was deliberately dressed in the contrast colour to red (green), to symbolise how odd she is and that she doesn’t quite fit into the kind, loving kind of space Carlo lives in. In this particular image, I also had her with her back to the light and Carlo facing the light – it shows his more open, warm personality and her more dark and mysterious side. Ha, ha, that all sounds so very pretentious, but nowadays I really do like to play a lot with colour and lighting. 🙂 (If you want another example, take a look at the colours Enzo wears in gen 2. The more he’s trapped by his dad’s influence, the more he wears black/grey and as he starts to break free, he wears more and more blue, which is also a colour associated with Gina).

 

Thank You!

If you (somehow) made it through all this, thanks for reading. I know that was two posts from me in a day, which is a lot. I just always feel bad doing ridiculously long posts on tumblr and also their text editor is so bad, it makes me want to cry. So, I enjoyed doing this for the blog and I hope you got at least something out of this (besides eye strain). Thanks to Lila for tagging me in this.

If you’re a storyteller and you’d like to do the same on your blog, consider yourself tagged in this. I love learning about others’ processes. 🙂

Thanks again if you read this far and I’ll see you for the next post (not today – don’t worry).

Lots of love,

6 Comments

  • Trip

    I sort of have the opposite pose-making approach (go overboard on making actual poses, get dragged kicking and screaming into making new accessories if I MUST…and somehow it always loops back to various drinks) The recorder is definitely my favorite piece of super-niche CC now. You did so well with it or made it look great through editing magic, or a little or both. 😛

    • NotJustaBook

      I really usually try to avoid making stuff as much as possible, lol, but I often end up having to make those weird objects that nobody but me will ever need. Thanks for the kind words on the recorder. It is actually just an object and probably the simplest I’ve done, lol. Literally a box with a photo overlay. 😛

  • Lila Remonn

    Dumpster fires gets the work done just as well even if everything is burning 😂 The chaos does sound very organic and exciting. I get how doing full outlines can drain the fun and ‘mystery’ from writing. It’s far more interesting to watch your own story trajectory change unexpectedly over time. I only plan detailed outlines 3-5 chapters in advance, beyond that I only have a basic idea of what might happen. Now it makes a lot of sense why you spend that much time editing afterwards + rewriting many versions, it’s just ‘swapped’ allocations of time!
    I had that exact same snow problem with my own Christmas post 😫 I took double shots with and without snow because it kept on covering everything on the table. Going a bit too far with the realism, game.
    It’s so cool seeing the before and after of your shots. Heartwood has such rich and atmospheric visuals with your light/shadow editing and environmental details. And your redux of Gen 1 is very satisfying to look at. Pretentious lighting choices are the best 👏
    This was a really fun post to read ❤ I love getting to know the different ways storytellers approach creation and how that results in very unique stories out of what seems like a singular and restrictive game!

    • NotJustaBook

      Ha, ha, yes. 😛 My process is honestly less chaotic than it used to be but… yup, very chaotic. 😛 Ha, ha, still more outlining than I do, but yeah – I agree. If I know everything already, I just lose interest completely. And yes. 🙂 A lot of writing advice says to always outline, but just ignores that you can just not do that and edit a lot instead haha. 😀 And I find editing waaaay more satisfying than outlining, so it works out. 😀
      So glad I’m not the only one. Good to know your solution though – gotta remember that for another time. I just said fuck it and went with objects that didn’t “disappear” in the “snow.” 😛
      I generally looove looking at shots before and after editing. 😀 Editing is so fun. I’m generally also pretty happy with the gen 1 rewrite so far (apart from some over-saturation in some chapters lol). And yesss to pretentiousness lol.
      Thanks a bunch, Lila. 😀 It really is incredible how different people’s games look and how our personalities shine through in our choices and our processes. 🙂 Thanks for reading! And thanks for the tag. <3

  • freja64

    Wow, it feels so good to see I’m not the only one taking hundreds of pictures and finally keeping just a couple of them! And I build scenes just like you do, trying to class them somewhat for further use, but often just rebuilding new sets – and worlds – again! I admire your photoshop skills, I wish I could take the time to learn how to edit pics like you do – adding smoke and rain and stuff. You’re very talented, and you put in a lot of hard work to illustrate your fantastic stories! Keep them coming!

    • NotJustaBook

      Oh, you’re definitely not the only one, lol. 😀 Ah, cool! You rebuild them? :O I admire that dedication, because I can’t say I’d do that, lol. 😛 I thought I’d lost a set recently and it wasn’t a good feeling, so I’m glad I managed to get it back. Thanks so much. I love editing and it’s fun – tutorials have helped. 🙂 Thanks so much for the kind words. <3

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