From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Monday, December 28, 2009

Video Games and Creative Writing

As an oldest child with many younger siblings, the last few days have been very full of video games. I've been wondering if there is anything writers can learn from video games, and here are some ideas.

Memorable characters: Mario, Donkey Kong, Yoshi, etc. Everyone knows them. They've become iconic. Its not like they are deeply developed characters, but they have specific characteristics that make them memorable and meaningful. Try to do that with your characters.

Sense of Accomplishment: With reading a book it may be harder to apply this, but be creative. I mean, reading a book is an accomplishment in and of itself, but by making what your characters go through a big deal at least to them, then the reader can feel a sense of accomplishment through your characters.

Unique: The worlds and characters in video games have places and powers and stories that are different from real life, and that makes them exciting. This can apply even if you mostly write literary fiction, like I do. No matter the genre you write in, your world and characters have to be unique.

Filled out: Good video games have complete worlds, characters and stories that form a filled out whole. Things have meaning and purpose and are there for a reason. Apply this to your work, and make sure you don't leave any gaps.

Direct: When you play a video game, even when its difficult, you know who you are, what side your on and what your ultimate goal is. There isn't confusion. Often in literature we appreciate subtlety and ambiguity, but the story should be ambiguous because there is more then one legitimate option, not because the writer couldn't decide how it should end. The story can be subtle and complex, but the reader must be able to follow along.

Happy gaming!
Sarah Allen


  1. Thanks! And thanks for the feedback, comments are always appreciated :-)


  2. I like this list, Sarah. In fact, I think a good video game accentuates the qualities of a good story.

    I disagree that Sense of Accomplishment is harder to apply to reading a book, because when you get down to it, that's what reading a book is all about. It's not about describing a scene, or communicating information, or even following along a quest; it's about sympathizing with the characters and their plight, and identifying with their losses and gains. So yeah, even if a book doesn't have a happy ending, or even if it's a non-fiction book, it should leave the reader with a sense of "Wow, I've experienced something."


  3. Yeah, I totally see your point. Its all about going through things with the characters. Thanks!


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