Today we have a post from a fellow WANA, Rabia Gale:
I was a late-comer to video games. I somehow made it to college without ever having heard of Zelda or Final Fantasy (crazy, huh?).
I was hooked. My first time playing was an eight-hour stretch. Since then I’ve put in many hours into video games, and even more time back-seat driving advising cheering on my husband as he played.
As a writer, my biggest takeaway from gaming is simple: Wow your readers.
How to do that? Read on…
CREATE WORLDS THAT BEG TO BE EXPLORED
My all-time favorite story-driven RPG is Skies of Arcadia. The continents and islands of this world float in the air. You can travel Arcadia vertically as well as horizontally, from orbital habitats down to the deep sky. And you get to do it all on airships—which, of course, can make anything cool.
A very different (and urban) world is that of Mirror’s Edge, where you take to the rooftops. You slide down ropes, climb ladders, and leap from building to building, often while dodging bullets.
Give readers an unusual, immersive setting. Let your characters loose all over it.
CRUSH YOUR CHARACTERS
So, you have your world. Now to send your characters off on their adventures! But how to prod them onward into all the pain and misery you’ve planned for them?
Well, for one you can take them away from everyone they love and everywhere they know, which is what happens to Sora in Kingdom Hearts and Tidus in Final Fantasy X.
Or you could set them up for betrayal and failure, as in the takeover of Dalmasca at the beginning of Final Fantasy XII or the unwinnable battle in Skies of Arcadia.
You do whatever it takes to beat them down, so that they can be stronger for it.
Old and new happily mix in many video games. Traditional culture blends with modern technology. Swordsmen fight alongside sharpshooters. You can ride a chocobo or pilot an airship. Spirituality melds with science fiction.
Games blew open the doors between traditional medieval-based fantasy and futuristic technology-driven science fiction for me. Now I combine the two in my writing.
DON’T FORGET THE PAYOFF
Remember how much work you put into those repetitive side quests in order to get the awesome weapon or the super-cool move? But the time you spent was worth it, because the first time you saw all those damage points, you went, “Wow.”
Too often, I’ve read books with great openings that fell flat into ‘meh’ by the end. You don’t want that to be your reader’s last impression of your book. Work for that spectacular payoff. Throw setback after setback at your protagonist. Raise the stakes. Twist your reader’s expectations. Dig deep into your characters’ souls and make them give you everything they’ve got.
And do all of that in such an awesome, mind-blowing way that getting the final summon in Final Fantasy or the Buriza-Do Kyanon for your Amazon in Diablo 2 pales in comparison.
About Rabia: I break fairy tales and fuse fantasy and science fiction. I love to write about flawed heroes who never give up, transformation and redemption, and things from outer space. I grew up in Karachi, Pakistan and now live in Northern Virginia. Check out my fantasy novella, Rainbird, or visit me online at http://www.rabiagale.com.
She’s a halfbreed in hiding.
Rainbird never belonged. To one race, she’s chattel. To the other, she’s an abomination that should never have existed.
She lives on the sunway.
High above the ground, Rainbird is safe, as long as she does her job, keeps her head down, and never ever draws attention to herself.
But one act of sabotage is about to change everything.
For Rainbird. And for her world.
Rainbird is a fantasy novella of about 31,000 words.