The definite guide to making visual novels by an individual who has finished many

It has drifted to my knowledge that some people on the Internet are wondering why so many visual novel projects die and very few are completed. As such, here is a helpful guide for beginners and advanced visual novel hobbyists. Its aim is to aid people with their project from start to finish by specifying the different stages and difficulties involved in the process. This is the method with which my visual novels to date have been finished, so I dare say I have proof of its effectiveness. The guide is mainly for writers, but as a being with a brain, you should be able to see how it applies to other positions. Please enjoy!

1. Work. Don’t dream; don’t talk; don’t blog and post on forums all the time; don’t “plan”, “research” or “design” as a guise for procrastinating. You may do all this, but it’s part of your fun time, not your work time. The more you do it, the more you’ll have to work to make up for spending your time at these activities. Work like a working person does.

2. It’s probably a better idea not to mention the details of your project anywhere. This is for several reasons.
Firstly, revealing your ideas to others tends to result in a horde of suggestions, corrections and critique, which are very nice things to have – after you have finished the script for them to comment on. In the beginning, these are naught but obstacles to your personal flow of ideas and are likely to be off anyway, since your plans may change during the process or the style of presentation might make some things good on paper bad or vice versa.
Secondly, less embarrassment if your project actually fails, easier to move onto the next one, which you will finish even if you failed once. Often ingeniosity is success only gained after a dozen failures. But do you really want to show those failures to everyone?
Thirdly, especially if you aren’t an experienced commercial game maker looking to advertise their game prior to release, the idea of showing off your unfinished project is just wrong, wrong and wrong to begin with. You might want to do some honest self-reflection: why do you want to talk about this idea? Is it to get yourself an artist, for example? Why would you want to do that before your script is finished? (If you start to look for an artist before having started your script or anything else, you are doing a huge disgrace towards the artist!) Is it to get praise? Why would you need that? It’s not like your creativity runs on the fuel of popularity, and if it does, you’re doing it wrong. Is it because you are a dreamer, just trying to present a good idea instead of doing any work, which is a bummer? Work, you slacker, work!

3. Be considerate towards your fellow makers, all the more so towards your collaborators, and let them have creative control. I know of people who think that the writer should be some director who takes control of everything. These people, without fail, have always succeeded to drive away the poor artist. As an artist or musician, on the other hand, you should try your best to make pieces befitting to the atmosphere of the writing. And work. Preferably so that you actually complete stuff. That applies to everyone, though. Never forget to work on your project.

4. Don’t think about the chances of your project (I can tell you, however, with zero work, they are zero); don’t think about people’s reactions to it; don’t wonder where ever can you find an artist/programmer/musician when you don’t have anything utterly and completely done; but make the visual novel. This does, however, imply that one must work on it.

5. Lastly and most importantly, finish the darn thing. Go work on it. Now. If all else fails, try deadlines, caffeine (e.g. coffee) or some other, preferably legal, drug of your choice: but go work on it, whatever it requires. Having a hard time at school, work or hobbies or whatever is no excuse for slacking. Sometimes you seriously need a break and are overworked, but approximately 95% of the times when people say they’re too busy to work on a visual novel, they got 3 letters wrong. They’re too lazy. Don’t be one of them; work.

However, even as nice it is to help the readers of the blog in the complex and beautiful ways of making a visual novel, I’ve got some work to do, so off I go. To work. To finish the thing. The thing, this time, is called The Duke’s Daughter, by the way. I’m doing some graphics again.

4 Responses to “The definite guide to making visual novels by an individual who has finished many”

  1. DaFool Says:

    This rings so true. I’ve been planning and planning for months, and only when I decided to actually create some useable assets (graphics, music, text or programming script) did I actually realize how much I need to do.

  2. Monele Says:

    1. Work
    2. Work
    3. Work
    4?… Oh yeah, work!
    5. Work some more

    Have I summed it up well? :D That said, it *is* sound advice.

  3. Not so sure... Says:

    1. Work. Don’t dream; don’t talk; don’t blog and post on forums all the time; don’t “plan”, “research” or “design” as a guise for procrastinating. You may do all this, but it’s part of your fun time, not your work time. The more you do it, the more you’ll have to work to make up for spending your time at these activities. Work like a working person does.

    I have to completely disagree with this. I see where you were going: “don’t spend 100% of your time planning without actually doing”, but a little bit of forethought, and a LOT of research will save you some of the “work” that you’ll likely dump later and have to spend twice as much time on.

  4. luxhime Says:

    You’re right about that, Not so sure…; I’m a fan of planning and research myself. Writing plot outlines and planning ahead can make everything so much easier! It’s just too often that people “plan” or “research”, that is, use those words when they’re really just dreaming, slacking off or playing, instead of truly planning and researching. That is what I meant with the quotation marks there, if it was unclear. These things, when actually practised, are an important part of the creative process and can be rather hard work as well.

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