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Video Game Writing Tip #6

Be Clever

But not too clever. Your real job as a game writer is to make the game’s dialogue interesting within the confines of character limits, ESRB restrictions, and your world’s story. It’s not always easy, but it’s loving that challenge that makes you a writer at heart.

The best way you can inject cleverness (drama/humor/tragedy) is on a meta level, by choosing what the characters discuss in a particular situation. For example, let’s imagine two characters on guard duty.

    Instead of this:
    Soldier #1: They keep coming and coming. Will the attacks never stop?
    Soldier #2: We’ll fight them to the end, either theirs or ours.

    Do this:
    Soldier #1: My armor’s chafing. I’ve tried everything from talcum powder to lard.
    Soldier #2: If these attacks continue, a rash will be the least of your worries.

You don’t need to get clever in what they say. The scene is inherently clever on its own.

Another example would be if you have a town that’s besieged by bad guys, and two of the women there are discussing how awful it is.

    Instead of this:
    Woman #1: I wish they would just leave us alone.
    Woman #2: I know. It’s horrible.

    Do this:
    Woman #1: My husband didn’t come back from patrol last night.
    Woman #2: Have you told your children?

By directing your focus on suffering, you already have more clever writing. There’s nothing fancy in the word choice or arrangement. It’s where you place the spotlight that makes it better than the previous example.

Video game writing requires skill at and interest in manipulating words. It’s not all creative. You’re a word cosmetic surgeon. Nip here. Tuck there. And voila! She’s beee-oo-teeful!

>>> Read Video Game Writing Tips #1-3, #4, #5.

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