Writing Tips from Pokémon Sun and Moon

If you read this post, you’ll recall my mentioning that I’d almost finished this post. Well, here it is, finally. Bullet undodged.

I know what you’re thinking: That’s a joke title if ever I heard one. Why doesn’t she just get to the giveaway winner already? Patience, my young padawan. That will come in time.

In case you’re wondering (even if you aren’t, I’m still going to tell you), Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon are two versions of the same videogame developed by Game Freak for the Nintendo 3DS—one of the many ways Nintendo celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the Pokémon franchise in 2016. I have both. Each game has its own variations.

pokemon-sun-and-moon

Because of the popularity of Pokémon Go, even if you didn’t play it, you’re probably familiar with the concept of catching Pokémon to collect and train.

Starter Pokémon

Starter Pokémon

Essentially the game is a hero’s journey. The hero—you—leave home and battle several threshold guardians (friends, island captains, and kuhunas) in order to reach your goal—becoming the world champion Pokémon trainer.

pokemonsun4  img_4181

One of the most fun things about the game is that as your character explores, he or she finds useful items either on the ground, or they’re given to your character by others in the game. These items help your Pokémon grow stronger, which is your main goal as a trainer. But knowing which ones to use at different points in the game is part of a winning strategy.

pokemon-sun-and-moon-tm-jpg-optimal

Videogamers love clues that can help them figure out how to succeed in the game. So what does this have to do with writing? Well, consider the fact that readers also like to be successful. They like clues that help them make predictions about a story’s outcome. Which brings me to writing tip number 1: Foreshadowing is a way of cluing the reader in on what’s upcoming. A character in your story might say something that triggers an “ah-ha” moment in the reader and helps him or her anticipate what could happen later on. So, foreshadowing is how you help a reader win in the game of reading.

Tip number 2 probably goes without saying. But I’ll say it anyway. Make each threshold increasingly difficult to help your characters grow. This is what’s known as upping the ante or raising the stakes. As you start off Pokémon Sun or Moon, the first threshold guardian is challenging, but far less challenging than the ones later in the game. But at each level, your Pokémon are growing stronger. By the time you reach the end—the final five trainers—your Pokémon should be at a level where they are able to successfully defeat the five. So, overcoming increasingly difficult obstacles makes your characters grow.

Tip number 3 goes with the second tip: Make your antagonist three dimensional. Duh, right? A three-dimensional antagonist As you play Pokémon Sun or Moon, you’ll run across a surly kid named Gladion who demands to battle you every now and then. He’s often rude to you. But he’s not just a bully. Gladion has a very poignant back story and an interesting motivation, which you learn during the course of the game. Knowing his story helps you begin to understand what makes this kid tick and even empathize with him. And that’s the reaction you want from a reader. You want them to care about your antagonist, even if he or she is horrible to your protagonist.

pokemon-sun-moon-trailer-screenshot-12Okay, I’ve lectured you enough. If you read the interview with Andy Murray (click here for that), you know I’m giving away a copy of Mythos, the volume in which Andy has two short stories. His publisher, Michael Kobernus, kindly offered an ebook of Folklore, book 1 of the Northlore series. Too cool for school!

Andy Photo    image

coverreveal

The winner of both of those books is . . .

Is . . .

Is . . .

Is . . .

Charles Yallowitz!

Congratulations, Charles! Please comment below to confirm, then email me at lmarie7b(at)gmail(dot)com to provide your snail mail address and the email address you use with Amazon. I’ll forward the latter to the publisher for the Folklore giveaway. Thank you to all who commented.

Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon logos from segmentnext.com. Starter Pokemon image from inthegame.nl. Gladion image from capsulecomputers.com. Obtaining TM image from gamerant.com. Hau image from usgamer.net. Professor Kukui photo by L. Marie. Book covers from Nordland Publishing.

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24 thoughts on “Writing Tips from Pokémon Sun and Moon

  1. I’m here. Why would you undodge a bullet? 😜 Tip #2 makes me think of cred running or whatever it’s called now. Just wander and fight until the levels go up. Doesn’t seem to work in a book. Not as well as training, time passes, or hunting for the special weapon. That foreshadowing can be tricky too. You get that one item that seems pointless and you suddenly need it near the end. Old days there was always the chance you could sell it for a coin. Not to mention the items you could do multiple things with, but you only get one and it’s a one time thing. Nerve-wracking times.

    • Ha ha! Just when everyone thought they had dodged the bullet of that post, there it is finally. 🙂

      In a book, yes, the training of a character is a bit different. But characters change in some ways by the end of the book. Then of Harry Potter, who “leveled up” each year at Hogwarts, until he was able to face Voldemort at the end.

      I agree about those items. That’s why I’m grateful for Serebii, which warns you to keep certain items, rather than sell them, to use in evolution later.

      • I’m still a little lost on Harry getting stronger. He never seemed to do well in school and tests kept getting canceled. Not to mention he was focusing more on extracurricular stuff. Didn’t feel like a lot of training went on, especially compared to Hermione. Maybe Harry was that kid who never had to study and still got good grades.

        Serebii sounds almost like a cheat. 😛 I think the item issue is more from old RPG’s. There were quite a few like that in the Final Fantasy ones. I remember having a terrible time figuring out what to do with the 2-3 pumice pieces I got in Final Fantasy IX. Get the small change to the ending, use as an item, or run around for hours to unlock a badass summons. Wish I could play that one again.

      • I wasn’t thinking about grades so much as his emotional growth. He grew emotionally stronger and learned the spells needed to hold his own against Voldemort. But he had help in the items he found, and those given to him.

        Remember how hard it was for him at first to summon a patronus? He had to work at it until he got it.

        P.S. I heard from the publisher. He will send Folklore to you.

      • Did he use the patronus in the final battle? I only saw the movies, which seemed to go into no incantation mode. Just flinging bolts around and doing a liquid lightsaber type of thing.

      • He used it during other battles. But the patronus charm was used during the Hogwarts battle. And Harry was able to teach others to use it.

  2. Congratulations, Charles!
    Interesting post, L. Marie. Though I’m still not understanding Pokemon, you’ve enlightened me. I’ve always wanted to be a heroine, go . . . 🙂
    Enjoy the bits of sunshine today.

  3. I’ve never got into video-gaming, but I still agree with your writing tips, especially the one about filling out the bad guy. I hate when bad guys are just bad without there being any apparent reason for it… much better if we learn enough about them to understand why they’re like that.

    • Agreed, FF. I usually will not finish a book with a one-dimensional villain, unless there is a good reason for the paper-thin characterization. (Though I can’t think of a good reason offhand.)

  4. Thank you for this post! I started writing fiction after playing Myst and other RPG’s, and that’s where I learned about foreshadowing. I saw details of the fictional world as similar to the objects the RPG characters picked up, and that’s how I teach writing to high school students now.

  5. I’m from the pre-video-game generation, so when my grandchildren started talking about Pokemon, I didn’t know what they were talking about. Thanks for your simple and useful explanation. I enjoyed your comparisons between Pokemon and writing.

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