Rough Draft Strategies?

Lynnea Glasser 7 years ago updated by Jerica MacMillan 7 years ago 12

I thought I'd ask people how they've been creating rough drafts. I noticed a lot of playwrights, so are you all writing it like a script?

I personally have been roughly formatting the game in ChoiceScript-style with its indent system so I can write it all in one go, then go through and polish / update as I lay it out in the authoring tool.

I'm making notes in Google Docs and everywhere else, and then mostly writing the episode directly on the tool, which I find to work pretty well. We'll see how that goes for the first episode, and will probably make adjustments moving forward.

Good luck!

Similar to Greg, I've got my notes on the progression of scenes written down wherever's convenient and then I've been doing a lot of the writing in the tool. I was having some technical issues (now sorted) with Sequel earlier today so I got a lot of writing done in a spread sheet, which is handy for keeping the different text snippets nicely isolated.


I write directly in the tool. But I guess that everybody has their own style when they write.

I make up a foundation so to say and then I let the story evolve as I write. But I find the tool easy to use and as I'm used to Twine it's basically the same :)

we also are trying to solve for the work flow issues. we think it would help A LOT if there was some kind of "open node mode" where you could get more of a handle on the whole story as it evolves.


FYI, in the upcoming update, we're going to add the ability to choose your Character (the one who is talking) within a node. This means you won't have to create a new node every time you want to change who is talking/typing. Of course, you could certainly continue to do that if it's easier to track things for you, but in this new way, you could create "topics-of-conversation" nodes that contain an entire back-and-forth dialogue within a single "longer" node.

You won't have to go back and change anything you've previously done. It would still have all the current flexibility to add stuff wherever you want, of course.

We think it will be faster-to-input and easier-to-follow, plus make your trees far less complex in appearance.

@Michael, That would be helpful for me, since I've got a lot of back and forth (which means a lot of scrolling as I go through!)


I write entirely inside sequel, with notes on the story, character, canon, pics, links etc all in word documents (so far I've managed not to put things on bits of paper, but the temptation is strong to surround myself with notes). When I want to check phrasing/spelling/grammar I look at the node, and when I want to check the flow of the story I use the simulator, often playing the same section over and over.

It helps that the tool looks so pretty. It also means I can see instantly when a bit of dialogue looks like a wall of text.

That means it's VERY useful to be able to click on a node and then play from there, and quite frustrating when I lose my place. It would be useful to be able to "bookmark" a node in some fashion eg. I'd bookmark the beginning of each day, almost like chapters, so I could find the bits I needed more quickly (ya know, three seconds instead of all the hassle of ten seconds. I got things to do), and maybe bookmark scenes that I knew would need extra attention. Or pictures that weren't de-watermarked yet.

I can do this manually just by adding the text of "XXXXX" and clicking "search", of course. Just gotta remember to take it out later. I also use the clock as a marker between days (I put minor delays inside nodes, and major delays in their own place). The profile pics are super useful for finding my place too.

I REALLY hope sequel is all backed up somewhere very safe, because I have no way to back it up myself. At all.


@Felicity One of the down-the-road features is being able to put in node "markers" or "page breaks" so we can do exactly that!

Sequel is backed-up at regular intervals. Should something catastrophic occur (heaven forbid) there's a very good chance that we can recover things. Please don't test this. ;-)


@Felicity - You can start playing the story in simulator at any node point you wish to. Just click on a node and play simulator, it plays from the node which you've clicked.


Thought I'd share a screenshot of how I've been organizing my rough drafts, since it's really easy to just write in the flow with a regular text editor, and also keep track of the different splits.

And of course, it looks like this in Sequel:

I feel like this format of writing might be helpful to people who are newer to Interactive Fiction writing. If it's not, just do your own thing!

I have various Notepad files on my computer, where I jot down notes on the characters & their world, idea for future episodes, multimedia links to keep in mind, games w/ similar atmosphere to play & examine, etc. I also have a bunch of photos I've been taking for a different project that could be very useful for this one. I keep these in mind as I start working.

When I start an episode draft, the character is on a new floor of a building they are trying to escape from, so first I doodle a map of the current floor, just a general hallway idea. I think of what's on that floor, who was on that floor (the building's abandoned now), what materials might be there (is there an office or a mailroom, and what would be in there), etc. I also know the player will help the character find some kind of key (to reach the next floor). so I doodle little symbols on my map, for each room in the hallway. The symbols represent what the character will find there, and I use all these things to think of dialogue topics.

I write my scripts similar to how Lynnea does, kinda like a screenplay, and put them in Sequel as I go, polishing dialogue & putting in beats. I write in Microsoft Word; I bold the player's dialogue (their choices) and leave the character's with normal formatting, so I can keep track of my word count (personal preference of mine).

That's how I write my rough drafts. Hope you guys didn't mind that long response. :)

I write mine script-style in Evernote. I like to be able to see everything that's going on too much to write the first draft in the authoring tool. Inputting it there gives me a chance to do first pass edits and I add the media I want to use then.

I hate Word, and only use it when I have to. I do most of my writing in Scrivener. I might switch out of Evernote and put this in Scrivener, too, because I like how easy it is to navigate between scenes there.