LitRPG Guide. What makes a good LitRPG

#1
Hi, i am just going to say straight up that i am a serious gamer, I am currently writing a book (not LitRPG). I have noticed that a lot of LitRPG authors have some things they do that turn some prospective readers off from their books after around 5 to 10 chapters.
I will admit before this guide starts, as i am more of a consumer of litRPG books and also of games, i will look at this from a slightly less objective viewpoint than most guides. Now let's get stuck into the guide.


Ohh almost forgot. BTW most examples i will use when focusing on the theme and setting will likely be Japanese light novels as the japanese seem to love this genre (not suprised).

What is a LitRPG?
A LitRPG is quite a new book genre focused on an RPG game format. there are 3 types of LitRPG situations the main character will be or get into that start the whole adventure.

1. The guy is a genuine gaming addict. This type will have a small bit of school and social life outside of the game mixed in with the gaming. A good example of this is Don't Fear the Reaper by schurmwalzer or whatever his name is.

2. The MC gets trapped in the game. This one is the most common and is probably its own cliche in Japan by now. Examples of this type of LitRPG would be the Light novel series Sword Art Online (yes SAO was originally a light novel series). This type either has one of 2 progressions. the 1st is trying to get out of the game and the other is adjusting to the new world and deciding to stay.

3.The MC gets moved by some mystical force into a world set out like a RPG game. I know technically you can classify this as Stuck in a game but it is a bit different. A good example of this type of LitRPG novel is Log Horizon.  

All 3 of the novels i mentioned are some of the better ones for their type (DFtR for a RRL book) and each does something right. Don't Fear the Reaper captures combat and the fact that most view VR games as another reality. Sword Art Online actually portrays melee combat quite well and also has some amazing  progression with the Alicization series. Log horizon does Politics and tactics amazing. 


So what do most LitRPG authors do that makes people quit their novel?


There are a few things that LitRPG authors do which puts most readers off from their novels. I am going to list some of the major ones and have some tips and tricks to avoid them.

1. Generic LitRPG setting, characters and even plot.
This is probably the biggest killer. People just go and read Sword Art Online (example) and think, "I am going to write a LitRPG" and then go and make a Sword Art Online copy. Now don't get me wrong. that was an uncommon example but my friend has actually done that and nowadays he is mad sometimes cos i bagged him out about it. Either way LitRPG's are actually some of the hardest action, adventure type novels to write. This is not because the genre itself requires skill (it really doesn't), but because the amount of content of this genre will mean you need to be absurdly creative and be able to turn a crazy weird idea into an amazing book. The creativity is the hardest thing to do in this genre because of the amount of content. Here are a few tips to help
Don't worry about you book being called generic in terms of the game aspect.
Way to many people get disheartened when they make a chapter and people call the game idea or game setting generic. To be honest most serious LitRPG readers don't give jack squat about game setting or how generic it is. Most will judge your novel on a few things. Basically anything but the game's theme and setting. If your game setting is, idk, a continent on the brink of civil war with a bunch of nations already at war, then dragons start invading and you have some mystical power that can capture a dragons spirit and use it to activate some words of power (Skyrim:ES V basically). The only thing i and most LitRPG readers that are serious about reading the book will care about is how the "mystical power" works and how creative you can get with it while keeping it sensible. The rest in that sentence is the kind of thing we either don't care about or love if you made a serious effort to make it unique and interesting. On to the next tip.

Make the systems inside the game interesting.
Don't worry about the history of the world the game is set in. Focus on the systems like Classes, sub-classes, races, magic etc.
It is like your average RPG game. The main reason people get rpg games is for the fact they can go on an adventure and kill an army of dragonpor.. oops i mean dragonborn soilders (doesn't actually happen in ESV but who cares). And especially for MMORPG's all anyone will care about is how easy the systems to learn and how hard it is to master. As i said, in game content and goals. making your game have infinite levels and always being challenging will make people want to play. It is the same with books.

Design the Game before ANYTHING ELSE.
THis is probably the biggest thing people should do when making a LitRPG. Make the game and how it works before anything else. I am actually thinking of starting one too sometime and i am gonna make the game first. Make the game, then test by making different characters and treating them as the MC with different classes and stuff and see how it goes. 

And that is all right now. I will edit when i think of some more stuff. either way, here are some useful links. One is mainly about magic systems but i think can be applied to anything

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbL-84SkT4Q&list=PL70TVzJA5SvhKvM3GZRsM9FJ_Zirm4AvY

http://coppermind.net/wiki/Sanderson%27s_Laws_of_Magic

RE: LitRPG Guide. What makes a good LitRPG

#2
4/30/2017 2:23:16 AMWorstNameEver Wrote: [ -> ]Hi, i am just going to say straight up that i am a serious gamer, I am currently writing a book (not LitRPG). I have noticed that a lot of LitRPG authors have some things they do that turn some prospective readers off from their books after around 5 to 10 chapters.
I will admit before this guide starts, as i am more of a consumer of litRPG books and also of games, i will look at this from a slightly less objective viewpoint than most guides. Now let's get stuck into the guide.


So what do most LitRPG authors do that makes people quit their novel?


There are a few things that LitRPG authors do which puts most readers off from their novels. I am going to list some of the major ones and have some tips and tricks to avoid them.

1. Generic LitRPG setting, characters and even plot.
This is probably the biggest killer. People just go and read Sword Art Online (example) and think, "I am going to write a LitRPG" and then go and make a Sword Art Online copy. Now don't get me wrong. that was an uncommon example but my friend has actually done that and nowadays he is mad sometimes cos i bagged him out about it. Either way LitRPG's are actually some of the hardest action, adventure type novels to write. This is not because the genre itself requires skill (it really doesn't), but because the amount of content of this genre will mean you need to be absurdly creative and be able to turn a crazy weird idea into an amazing book. The creativity is the hardest thing to do in this genre because of the amount of content. Here are a few tips to help
Don't worry about you book being called generic in terms of the game aspect.
Way to many people get disheartened when they make a chapter and people call the game idea or game setting generic. To be honest most serious LitRPG readers don't give jack squat about game setting or how generic it is. Most will judge your novel on a few things. Basically anything but the game's theme and setting. If your game setting is, idk, a continent on the brink of civil war with a bunch of nations already at war, then dragons start invading and you have some mystical power that can capture a dragons spirit and use it to activate some words of power (Skyrim:ES V basically). The only thing i and most LitRPG readers that are serious about reading the book will care about is how the "mystical power" works and how creative you can get with it while keeping it sensible. The rest in that sentence is the kind of thing we either don't care about or love if you made a serious effort to make it unique and interesting. On to the next tip.

Make the systems inside the game interesting.
Don't worry about the history of the world the game is set in. Focus on the systems like Classes, sub-classes, races, magic etc.
It is like your average RPG game. The main reason people get rpg games is for the fact they can go on an adventure and kill an army of dragonpor.. oops i mean dragonborn soilders (doesn't actually happen in ESV but who cares). And especially for MMORPG's all anyone will care about is how easy the systems to learn and how hard it is to master. As i said, in game content and goals. making your game have infinite levels and always being challenging will make people want to play. It is the same with books.


First tip: DONT make your Litrpg generic.

Second Tip: dont worry if your Litrpg is generic.

Third Tip: Make your Litrpg unique.

[th_107_.gif]

what do you really want us to do?

RE: LitRPG Guide. What makes a good LitRPG

#4
You can keep people entertained for a while with just fleshing out the system but the real thing that tends to keep people is character development and not just their personality, who they enjoy being with, their outlook on life and finally; how everything they've done has warped their views to match the current world.

Also you forgot to list the 4th option, apocalyptic litRPG, the normal 'modern' world being taken over by the system.

You've also got things like 'World seed' that mix two together.

RE: LitRPG Guide. What makes a good LitRPG

#5
My single biggest bit of advice to any aspiring litrpg writer would be to look and listen, even if you don't have time to read. 

Look at the top books in the genre (lion's quest, awaken online, emerilia etc) for tips on formatting, but try to avoid looking at them for content.  You need to do your own thing if you want to stand out. 

Likewise, you need to listen. There is a fifty something episode podcast you could eat through in a week that has reviews of hundreds of litrpg. Having listened to all of them I can say that one of the worst things in the genre is being 'that story'. 

You know the one. The one that a reviewer starts by saying "this is a pretty typical litrpg'. 

Stand out, have your own focus. Bring something to the genre rather than just regurgitating a story we have already read.

RE: LitRPG Guide. What makes a good LitRPG

#6
If I could just add one thing to this discussion, as a writer who is currently producing a LitRPG series at the moment.

There seems to be a lot of focus on crafting something that is "unique" and "different," when it comes to designing the system and the world your story takes place in. While I agree that this is an admirable goal, what I can say is that - in my own opinion - the most important thing is to keep a good sense of scale.

Not the scale of your world or story, mind you, but of the differences between your work and the origins it sprouted from.

I think the OP was trying to convey this sentiment as well.

You shouldn't have to worry too much about making your work different in every category imaginable. Pick what you like, and write what you know. Take those tired character tropes, settings, and plot devices that made you fall in love with the genre in the first place, and then express that love and sentiment to the reader as well as your skill level will allow.

A painter can create wonderful works of art with only a single type of brush, without needing to fill his studio with every type of art instrument imaginable. In the same way, a writer can use simple means to craft a fun and engaging story. As you create and imagine, you'll surely learn more about your characters, your systems, and your world. You'll be able to grow them into those unique and diverse entities that readers are so desperately craving, while still maintaining the spirit of the genre.

No two stories will ever be wholly alike, just as they will never be wholly different.

And of course, never stop writing!

Re: LitRPG Guide. What makes a good LitRPG

#9
Stick Wrote: There seems to be a lot of focus on crafting something that is "unique" and "different," when it comes to designing the system and the world your story takes place in. While I agree that this is an admirable goal, what I can say is that - in my own opinion - the most important thing is to keep a good sense of scale.


Aye. Agreed. As I've written in another comment (that I can't find right now), every story is a recombination of existing elements. New authors still have the glamorous idea of their story being all original, experienced ones make use of this by adding resonances or consciously playing with established tropes. There's the famous (albeit science related) quote about standing on the shoulders of giants. As authors, we naturally do this too. To try differently is noble but foolhardy. 

Now about the LitRPG genre, in my opinion, you don't really need to have that much of a different skill. "Normal" authors naturally also need to be crazy creative to keep their battles interesting (for example, I like to imagine battles like card games where each action can only be played once). A well thought out base system is nice but not necessary. Ideally, it gets the readers engaged and makes them want to tinker with it. If you can create theorycrafters with your LitRPG story, you've done something right, but not even the most successful ones necessarily reach that level.   
Honestly, in my opinion a lot of the stories fail for another reason. LitRPG can be a trap. It's easy to forget developing your characters as they gain stats and level ups. In a way, the systemic addons are a way of character development and it's great for an initial boost. Yet after a few chapters it starts to feel stale and that's because the characters themselves haven't really moved. In essence, think of LitRPG as an extension to your story, not a replacement. It still needs to be fun if you tear out all the systems in place. 
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