The horrors!

May 13, 2013

Now to write. If all goes well, I’ll toss writing exercises like this up on my blog from time to time. Writing, I must say, is a pleasure, and I (like a lot of writers) have a file loaded with pages upon pages of partial story ideas: this blog gives me a place to toss them out where people can see them.

If you want to use anything I create in an exercise, just ask me, alright? It’s “intellectual property” and all that, but mostly it’s a matter of emotional investment. I mean, I like to know where my children are. (It’s even 11 o’clock as I write this . . . )

Let’s open with a complete scene full of characters. It’s currently “cool” for games to be “dark” and “edgy,” so let’s go for a horror videogame. I’m not stupid, so it will be horror with a purpose: the “point” of the story is “Pride goeth before a fall” (a misquote, by the way). Who better to demonstrate than a mad Frankenstein-like creator?

I will make three entities, following character geometry: a 1-D creature class created by “Frankenstein,” a 2-D character/creature elevated above the horde who will help the player, and a 3-D “Frankenstein.” Three dimensions is probably overdoing it for just a “videogame level boss,” but, again, who can say where this would go? Maybe it would work best as a long-running antagonist in a pencil-and-paper RPG.

I will use RANDOM.ORG to tell me gender since that isn’t important for this story’s point. Also to tell me whether a given character is “human” or “other.” He he he. Results!

Three-dimensional character. Female, human.

Two-dimensional character/creature. Male, human.

One-dimensional creature class. Female, other.

Right to start, this sounds fascinating. The two-dimensional character isn’t a “creature,” so who is he? Probably an assistant. Also, I decided all “creatures” would have the same gender because it keeps sound and art files simple; but now, what does it mean if the creator and the creations look the same? “Pride goeth before a fall . . . ”

I have no format guidelines, so I’ll write a physical description and then whatever text (spoken or written) might be helpful.

1-D creature class: Frankenspirits. (They’re “not human,” so why not change it up a little?)
Trait: Hopeless. (In the sense: hopeless of attaining some ideal or goal.)
Description: A faded and fractured form, like a ghost in a broken mirror. Each bears the face of Doctor X.
Dialogue: Idle – “Doctor! Doctor! Why can I not see you?”
Idle – “I may never be as great and wondrous.”
Idle – “Such failure . . . ”
Fight – “What do you see?!”
Fight – “You deserve no better!”
Fight – “The end comes at last!”

2-D character: Dullman.
Traits: Meticulous, rude.
Description: A dirty man in a clean white lab coat. His glasses are broken.
Dialogue: Intro – “What took you so long? Another day and this entire facility would be unrecoverable. The experiments have failed, but Doctor X keeps working on more creatures! I can’t even understand her anymore: you have to do something before she gets us all killed!”
Written – “Log 192. Per X: more power, more liquid, more time. Failed. Log 193. Per X: more power, more liquid, more time. Failed. Log 194. Per X: more power, more liquid, more time. Failed. Log 195. GUESS WHAT?”
Idle – “This would have worked. But not with her in charge!”
Idle – “[Incoherent muttering] why I should [incoherent muttering].”
Fight – “Eugh, these creatures. What does their babbling mean?”
Fight – “All this wasted work!”
Event – “This is the main lab. She’ll be incensed at you barging in while she’s at work on the final experiment sequence. But then, when is she neither?”

3-D character: Doctor X. (Yeah, I’m probably going to reuse that name for a hundred character designs.)
Traits: Dedicated, vain, fragile.
Description: A brute of a woman with leathery skin, but with clear eyes and delicate hands. Her lab coat has many dried bloodstains.
Dialogue: Written – “Log 1. I’m supposed to write my thoughts about the first results of this final experiment sequence. As though it were of use. I have years of work to preserve: a child’s diary is but a mockery of the principle.”
Written – “Log 15. Per D: write more logs. D, are you reading this? Stop.”
Written – “Log 34. This is pointless. This is failure. Not a one of them can hold a candle to my legacy. Yet at the same time they tell me, in no uncertain terms, how grand it is.”
Written – “Log 99. One of them hurt me. I don’t think they know who I am anymore. Perfection is all the more urgent. I mark this date as the start of a medical regimen to ensure my bodily strength. With perseverance, I will retain the ability to finish the final experiment sequence and see myself face-to-face: then I may outlive myself after all.”
Intro – “Dullman, can’t you see my hands are full?! Wait, who the blazes are you? Dullman! Did you dare tell others about the grand project? My work is imperative! I cannot abide pollution in the lab!”
Fight – “Cease your struggle! Can’t you see what I’m doing?”
Fight – “Do not dare to judge your better!”
Fight – “You may not harm me until I am immortal!”

And . . . cut! With any luck, you can piece together the motivations in this scenario even if I didn’t state them explicitly. And even if I didn’t explain how in the world Doctor X is “cloning” a human intellect into a series of weird ghosts. Game writing, like other forms of storytelling, is best if it “shows,” not “tells.”

So there you go, a writing exercise. Great fun! I’ll do more of these as opportunities arise.


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