(I made this post on the old forums and decided to post it on here as well, in case anyone would find it useful )
I personally think that I’ve given feedback on a good amount of stories by now, and I thought I’d make a post (that hopefully differ a bit from eg the guides on how to fix errors) with the most common “mistakes”, and how to fix them. Actually, don’t think of them as mistakes, but rather things that could improve your story (according to me - you might disagree). I’m no pro, though.
There might be other threads like this one, but you can never get enough tips, can you?
Anyway, I hope someone will find this useful!
(And please let me know if I should add anything)
Make sure that the character move their mouth when talking!
I think the most common “mistake” is not adding an animation to every line of dialogue*. If you don’t want to listen to me on this one, @JosephEvans gives the same advice here. As he says, your story will definitely seem more professional when adding an animation for every line of dialogue!
*This is not necessary if you use looping animations, of course, which leads me to the next point:
Use looping animations with care!
Is your character talk(ing)_arms_crossed_loop? Remember to stop them when they don’t actually have more to say. I mostly see this when people are using the talk_phone-animations - they’ll keep talking, even when they are listening to whoever they’re on the phone with.
All you have to do is add an idle animation, which I’ll talk about bellow.
Pay attention to how the animation ends!
Take talk_contend for example. It gets weird when your characters stand with their finger in the air three lines into another character’s dialogue. You could add arms_crossed afterwards. Talk_excited? (This mostly applies for the male version of talk_excited) Try idle_happy. Talk_gesture? Maybe shiftweight?
Pro tip: Use the &-command instead of the @-command when doing this, so that you won’t have to wait to start before you can move on to something else.
Just a little side note: Sometimes it’s okay to let them be for a beat or two, if changing their behaviour right away seems too sudden.
For safety’s sake, I’ll show you a couple of examples:
For the phone-thing:
EPISODE AUTHOR (talk_phone_happy_loop)
Hi Charlotte! I’m really glad I saw your tips on the forums!
Do you want to meet for coffee later?
&EPISODE AUTHOR is listen_phone_happy_loop
No problemo! And sure, I’ll see you later!
EPISODE AUTHOR (talk_gesture)
You’re a bit late, but that’s okay.
&EPISODE AUTHOR is idle
A queen is never late. Everyone else is simply early.
&CHARLOTTE is arms_crossed AND EPISODE AUTHOR is laugh_chuckle
Check your layers!
Whether a character is walking past another character, or slapping them, it looks best when they’re placed in the right layer. It’s done as easy as @CHARACTER moves to layer # (For example @EPISODE AUTHOR moves to layer 2)
Place the characters as the first thing!
I’ve seen authors do it so many times - they pan to a zone, and then the character appears, or there is a transition, and then the character appears. Try &CHARACTER stands/spot xxx in zone # before you pan and use any kind of transition.
Where are you going?
Is the character walking towards to back of the screen? Use walk_rear. That way it won’t look like the character is walking backwards.
Also: when you make sure where your character is going, remember to keep in mind how fast they’re going. Sometimes when a character moves from one spot to another, they will do it too fast. To prevent that, add the duration:
@CHARACTER walks to spot xxx in [the amount of seconds you want it to be]
@CHARLOTTE walks to spot 0.870 58 170 in 2
Who said that?
We can usually tell who’s speaking by the animation, but the speech bubbles are still so, so important to keep in mind! You want the tail to point to who’s talking, and preferably as close to that character as possible.
This is how the coding looks like for placing a speech bubble:
@speechbubble is 160 234 to 100% with tail_bottom_right
Remember to reset it when you want the default placement back:
Fix your punctuation!
If you remember to capitalize the names and “i”s, you have come a long way. And, please remember your periods/full stops.
A quick reminder!
“That’s”, “what’s” and “there’s” are always spelled with an apostrophe!
Pay attention to the language! (As suggested by @Windlay)
Please keep in mind, that if your character would say something like “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you haven’t told me this before!”, that way of writing it is better than “Omg I can’t believe u haven’t told me this b4!”. Of course, if you want them to actually say O M G, that’s totally fine, but please save the text language for the actual texts.
An actor’s rule number one!
Okay, I don’t know anything about acting, but I feel like this is a well-known rule: never look into the camera. (I’m talking about the talk_forward animations here)
But then again, never say never. Is your character talking to the reader or supposed to look into the camera? Then, of course, the talk_forward animation is perfect.
Know your story! (As suggested by @Alexa_x3)
We all write in our own way, and we all plan in our own way, so I’m not here to tell you how that’s done, but let’s say you’re writing a fantasy story for example. Often when writing a fantasy story, you’ll come up with a lot of rules for this universe that you have created. You wouldn’t want to have a character casually mentioning a minor rule in episode two, just to break that rule in episode thirteen, simply because you have forgotten about it. Planning your story before writing it is always a good idea - nobody likes plot holes.
I know that some people like to just write a story as they come up with it, but chances are you’ll forget about certain important details. If you’re anything like me, you probably walk around thinking about your story at random times and come up with an idea or a question to it - why not write it down? Use it!