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Video Game Writing Tip #9

Be Cautious around Prepositional Phrases

Not much will turn a reader or a player off faster than stilted or unrealistic dialogue. Unless you’re going for a satire of Tolkien, it’s better to have your character speak in a more natural cadence. It doesn’t matter how “fantasy” your world is. Here’s an example for you.

  • BAD: Guard! I am in need of assistance for my dying friend.
  • GOOD: Guard! My friend is dying! Help me! Please!
     
  • BAD: Tomorrow I will take my bow and send my arrows flying into the hearts of many monsters.
  • GOOD: Tomorrow, I’m going hunting. My arrows will hit their mark.
     
  • BAD: Oh, the wonderous things I shall see upon this journey to the far lands of ice and snow!
  • GOOD: I am so excited to be traveling! I packed for ice and snow. I can’t wait!

The prepositional phrase is a warning sign. If you have too many, chances are your sentence is out of control. I don’t recommend cutting them out entirely, but I do recommend being aware of them and keeping them to a minimum. They tend to bog the sentence down and make it feel less active.

Use them only for the pretentious fops among your characters.

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