Cautionary Tale Interviews! with Hoa - Writer

Which one of the three games did you work on?

“If in Your Dreams; The Flood”, specifically Oliver’s route.

How did you get started in your field?

Well, in 2012 a certain visual novel was released and I had the bright idea of making a VN myself. I joined an IRC channel someone posted in a thread on 4chan and it was all downhill from there. 6 years later and I’m still writing VNs.

What was the most difficult part of the process?

GETTING STARTED. I’m so jealous of writers who can just pick up a pencil or open [insert favored word processor here] and just start writing. Occasionally I’m able to just go, but with “Flood” I wasted most of my time pulling my own hair out before that sweet sweet panic set in and I could get it done.

How are Visual Novels different from other forms of writing?

Well, for starters you shouldn’t really spend the time describing the scene in the scripts because you’re going to have backgrounds, sprites, etc. The whole “show, don’t tell” saying become much more important and you’ll be spending a lot more time than you think you will in non-script documents detailing assets. When you’re writing a VN you’re not just a writer; you’re the director of your section. Sprite poses, expressions, backgrounds, music, etc… that’s all on the writer to list and work with other people on. I didn’t know that coming into this and made a fool of myself more than once over it. (lol)

What advice would you give someone entering your field?

Turn your brain off and just start talking to the paper. The more you worry about the quality of your writing the more time you’re going to spend on just one page. Editing is for after you’re done, not during the process! It’s like pulling the dough out of the oven while the cookies are still baking.

What did you gain from the experience?

I wish I had done this years ago; there’s only so much you can learn going solo or with your own little group of devs. I’m coming out of this much more prepared to finish my own VN than I was coming in. I’m definitely doing another NaNoRenO project next year.

Where do you write your first drafts? Do you like to outline, or just head in blind? Do you have any sort of writing ritual?

I hate using googledocs so I use openoffice instead. Having other people watch me as I type or seeing my revision history kills me inside.
I like to jot down things about the story and characters before I outline. Once the outline is done I’ll start drafting the actual script.
A pack of smokes and my usual spotify playlists get me in the mood real fast.

Why did you dedicate so much time, effort, and passion to this project for no monetary reward? What fueled your creativity and drove you to keep pushing?

Truthfully, a good friend of mine died recently and I needed something to keep my mind busy. I couldn’t work up the energy for my own project (as an artist) so I figured I’d go back to my roots (as a writer) and just finish a game already. I’ve always worked on VNs for free, but one day making some money off it is my ultimate goal. I’m really happy that this is what I got to work on as many of the themes align with my current situation. Best therapy ever.

Which character is your favorite?

The ghost bees.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to do NaNoRenO for the first time?

Just do it and go with the flow. Collabing with other studios is a fantastic way to learn and make friends.

Like what you heard? Consider playing Cautionary Tale when it is released, or check out Hoa on twitter here or here

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