We think through the characters of games and dialogues on the advice of writers and on the example of supporters of the theory of a flat Earth

Original author: JimVsHumanity
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As a person who, as a hobby, began to make his first game without any programming experience, I constantly read various tutorials and game dev guides. And as a person from PR and journalism who often works with text, I want a script and characters, and not just gameplay mechanics. We will assume that I translated this article for myself as a reminder, but it’s good if someone comes in too.

And there the character’s character is analyzed on the example of supporters of the theory of a flat Earth.

The script of the film “The Apocalypse Today” (1979) based on the book of Joseph Conrad's “Heart of Darkness” (1899)


I am working on a game with a lot of characters. But prescribing characters is not my forte, so I began to meet with real writers. Their feedback is priceless.

We met on busy streets, sat in pubs for pints, chatted via email and argued. I met people with different opinions on one issue. But I managed to single out a few general points for the basis of character writing.

Now I will show my notes after meetings with writers and supplement them with thoughts from John York's Into The Woods book - such notes will be marked by ITW. Hope they will be helpful.

Character versus Character

At the heart of the character is a conflict between how we want to be perceived and what we really feel [ITW]. Or in other words: the conflict between our characterization (image) and our real character lies at the heart of everything (drama).

Therefore, in order for the character to be interesting and versatile, he must somehow conflict. He should have an image from the characteristics that he considers useful (consciously or not) and which over time begin to interfere with him. To win, he will have to abandon them.

And while supporting their image, the characters speak the way they want to look in the eyes of others [ITW].

Writing Dialogs

When a character says or does something completely unusual for him, the drama comes to life. The dialogue should not simply explain the behavior, should not explain what the character himself thinks - he should show the character, not the characterization.

The key to natural dialogue is having a character in your character that you can mentally imagine, rather than thinking about each individual line. Work with strings for later. A huge number of writers just sit over a blank page and think about what their character will say. Instead, create a character that speaks for itself.

So the first is character creation.

To create a character, you must consider the character from the maximum number of sides. Here are just a few questions about the character that you should ask yourself (this is not a complete and not the best list, but a good starting point):

  • What is he like in public? Kind, quick-tempered, constantly in a hurry?
  • When he is alone in the toilet, away from everyone - what thoughts first come to his mind?
  • Where does he come from and where is he headed? Is he from a poor or rich place? From quiet or lively? Is he torn between them?
  • What does he like? What does he not like? If he went on a date, and he was ordered food that he does not like - how will he react?
  • Can he drive? Does he like to drive? How does he behave on the road?
  • He found his old photograph: depending on when and with whom the picture was taken - how will he react?

Etc. The more answers to questions about a character you have, the deeper and more attractive it becomes. In the end, the character will become so specific that he will write his own dialogues.

A woman, she is from 26 to 29 years old. In school, her life was pretty boring. She had few friends and left the city immediately after graduation. In a new place, she takes courage and decides to go for a drink. In a big city, thousands of people and the chances of meeting someone are pretty high. She enters the pub. She has to push through the crowd. Suddenly she notices that the most unfashionable in the institution. It takes her time to find a free spot. Finally, she sits down. Two hours later, a man approaches her.

“How are you?” He asks.

She replies: “Good. Thanks".

“I'm fine too,” the man says.

“Um, okay,” she says. A man clears his throat.

Obviously, the man is more confident than her. He did not wait until they asked him how he was doing. “Um, okay ,” the girl said. She is in dismay. Firstly, because she felt awkward, and secondly, because the man was a little rude to her. She is not used to the fleeting, bustling city life in which the man grew up. He expected a conversation at the pace he was used to in the city. He realized his mistake and began to clear his throat, confused. The subtext here is that they both have a lot to learn about each other. Their life moves at different speeds, and if they want to make friends, they will have to learn and grow.

A good example is the initial scene in the film "Social Network" (2010), where the characters communicate. In the search there are a bunch of videos with analysis, so I won’t repeat it.

Social Network (2010, David Fincher)

So, to create a dialogue, we must create a character. In a sense, writing a dialogue is acting out a character. Those. a description of what the character could say in reality if he existed.

Character References

To create things, you need other things. In creative areas, this also works. People are characters. You are a character. Therefore, you must speak with people to collect material. People keep hundreds of stories from life. One has only to ask and almost everyone will happily tell you about themselves. Just listen carefully.

Once in a pub, I got into a conversation with an alcoholic. He was once a good real estate developer and realtor. He told one interesting thing - his theory of degeneration of men. It sounded like this: in the 70s and 80s, they started massively closing men's clubs. Because of this, they practically had nowhere to hang around with other men (meaning without wives and women). With one exception - bookmakers. Therefore, the demand for rates increased sharply, new offices opened by leaps and bounds, and men more and more degraded. I asked him if the closure of the mines in the North (and subsequent massive unemployment) did not affect the appearance of bookmakers. He agreed, pleased with such a complement to his theory. But then he tapped his temple with his finger and said: “But people like us do not come across this - you know, smart people. We do not lose time in these bookmakers. ” With a triumphant nod, he drank in gulp what was probably the 25th pint of the week. In the afternoon, in a gloomy pub. The conflict is personified.

Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club, can talk about this for hours. Collect and retell stories of real people as they begin to live their own lives. Be sure to look for any performances by Chuck.

But besides communicating with real people, you need to read other authors, anonymous blogs, listen to confession podcasts, study movie characters, and so on.

There is such a documentary Behind The Curve (Beyond the Bend, 2018) about a group of supporters of the theory of flat Earth. It doesn’t say much about their ideology, but it’s a great movie to study the characters themselves.

One of the heroines of the film, Patricia Stear, runs a YouTube channel dedicated to discussions about flat earth theory and the community at large. However, she does not at all look like a conspiracy theorist. In addition, she was not always a supporter of the theory, but came to her through various other conspiracy theories. When her channel gained popularity, conspiracy theories began to appear around her.

The problem with members of such communities is that their beliefs are constantly ridiculed - the "big, bad world" is always against them. In such an atmosphere, they naturally begin to feel that all who do not share their faith are enemies. But this may apply to other members of the community. For example, if their beliefs suddenly change.

There is a moment in the film where she says something like (not verbatim):"People called me a lizard, they said that I work for the FBI or are a puppet of some organization . "

Then comes the moment when she is on the threshold of awareness. You can see how she freezes at the thought that the things that are said about her are stupid and not true. But she said the same thing about other people. Was it stupid? But what if the theory of a flat earth is not true? Was she right all this time?

Then a logical explosion was to occur in her head, but she brushes off all thoughts with a comment and continues to believe in what she believed. The conflict inside the character just broke out in a monumental internal battle and the illogical side won.

This is a wonderful five seconds.

People can be a collection of irresistible five-second flashes.


Are you still looking at a blank sheet asking what your characters will say? It's just that you have not sufficiently developed their character so that they can speak for themselves. First you have to work out all the facets of character to get a dialogue. And a quick search for character building questions is a good start to this.

Your character is ready, but they are too tight and not attractive? He needs conflict and image, friction and confusion.

Characters create new characters.

Look for characters around you in real life.

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