Writing Good Machinima Scripts

From AldoHyde, the Director of “StrangeTown Monty”:
(Updated: June 24, 2015)


You’ve thought of an excellent story, downloaded the perfect custom content, and spent time creating convincing sets and characters. Now all you need to do is film, edit, and you automatically get a great movie. Right?

Not really. If your script is not well-written, your story becomes less engaging, and your audience loses attention.


Your Audience’s Shoes

Firstly, understand that your audience is not as familiar with your script as you are. You cannot assume that they have the same background knowledge of your story as you do, especially if you’re writing a completely original story with your own cast of characters.

Introduce your audience into the world of your tale by integrating the story background into the conversation of the characters. But take care to do this subtly, so that their conversation on these topics sounds natural. Sometimes, there is important information that is not suitable for integration into the script. Place these, together with your character back-stories, on your blog/site for easy reference.


First Impressions

The first 10% of film runtime is “make or break” for ANY film. If a viewer gets “lost” after this time, they’d most likely leave your film to watch something else.

That is why I stress the importance of having an efficient and relevant introduction sequence that informs your audience clearly of your film’s title (& episode number, if applicable). This crucial first 10% should also clearly establish location, time, people involved, the situation, so that they can set expectations to enjoy the rest of your film.


Pacing Your “Play”

Writing for machinima is different from writing a short story, novel, poem, newspaper article, essay etc. The most common machinima form is where dialogue drives the action. Write your script like a play, in dialogue form. Include stage directions and character expressions where applicable.

Make sure the dialogue sounds natural and convincing, even if the topics are not common. Take into account both the actual words and pacing. Even if you successfully show off your extensive vocabulary or flowery poetic language, it won’t work if it’s not well-paced, or if the dialogue doesn’t sound natural.


Every Word Counts

Avoid redundant words, especially if they spoil the pacing of your story. It’s true that some characters talk too much, or say many unnecessary words. But keep these to a reasonable amount, or your film looks boring & empty, and is less likely to be taken seriously. Write meaningfully, so that each second counts, and will be worth watching.


Scale Your Story

Many Sims Directors like making “long running series” for popularity’s sake. But a good story is told in just enough chapters.

Series which are dragged out indefinitely often suffer loss in impact and overall quality. I’m NOT referring to shows that are deliberately constructed to have prolonged, engaging plots, but shows that get stretched too thin for the sake of having more episodes.

Scale your story appropriately for the best effect.


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