5 Tips on Writing: With Dylan Sands

5 Tips on Writing: With Dylan Sands

Hi! My name is Dylan Sands. I am an up-and-coming producer in the video game industry. Although my background predominantly resides within narrative, my love for wrangling cats (project management) has significantly altered my approach. 

I studied English Literature and Business Management at the University of Exeter in England. After a romantic three years abroad, I’ve returned home to Los Angeles to pursue my career in video games.

5 Tips on Writing: With Dylan Sands

Hooking Your Audience


Where you start and end your story can and will completely change how your player, reader, or viewer will interact with it. Start too early and you may be revealing too much about a character. For example, why would I want to watch John Wick eating dinner when I know he’s going to be decapitating dozens of men in a few minutes? 

Unless it is adding something to your story, you may be better off advancing the narrative to a slightly further point to retain that sense of mystery and intrigue.

Mastering Plot Development

Plot Development = Change.

Change is predicated on two things: how something was before, and how it is after. This is often tied to a strong emotional state. People are content with the status quo, but as soon as it slips away from them…well you know how it goes. Plot and character development go hand in hand. A good writer knows how to use both to their advantage.

5 Tips on Writing: With Dylan Sands

Effective World-Building Strategies

Go watch One Piece. Seriously. There’s nothing I can teach you that Oda-sensei cannot.

On a more serious note, good word building comes from a sense of realism. Even the most fantastical fantasy has rules that bind the inhabitants of its world.

Techniques for Character Development

Real people are the best references.

Writing believable characters has proven to be one of my largest personal writing hurdles. A trick I have found that helps tremendously is to start with real, tangible people. Ask yourself “Who is this character similar to in my life?” and go from there. How do they act in conversation? What ticks do they have? Do they have any strong preferences? After visualizing a few of these idiosyncrasies, it is easy to imagine the rest of a character. And like I said earlier, character and plot development go hand in hand.

Crafting Meaningful Decisions

If we are talking about video games, then understanding how the player experiences your game is a key factor in creating meaningful choices for them. A player’s decision should lead to an outcome that affects not only the story, but the player’s experience as well. For example, at the end of Mass Effect 1 you have to make an important decision between two characters. The character that you choose will live, and the character you ignore will die. 

Although this changes how the story ends, it also changes your party structure as you are choosing a character to take with you and play with/as for the rest of the story. The player’s actions have not only impacted the narrative, but how the remainder of the game will play out on their own terms.

5 Tips on Writing: With Dylan Sands

Dylan's Work & Experience

Having recently joined the wonderful Small Loan Studio, I am proud to share that I have worked hard on writing The Ouroboros Express and marketing Santa’s Secret. Aside from those two games, I have completed a few game jams and smaller projects on my own time. Check out my LinkedIn for more info!

I spend my days working with the Demo Crew at Ubisoft. We have recently taken on Rainbow Six Siege, The Crew Motorfest, Assassin’s Creed Mirage, Prince of Persia The Lost Crown, Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, The Rogue Prince of Persia, and Star Wars Outlaws.

Writing & Narrative Design Skills

I’m a master at lore building.

I excel in designing intricate narratives filled to the brim with twists and turns. Putting together worlds with deep histories and dark secrets makes me more excited than anything.

Exploring Favorites

interactive story writing jobs

Wow, tough question.

This may be due to a bit of recency bias, but I feel that One Piece has become my favorite story. The characters, world, and narrative are absolutely perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing (well maybe the pacing of the anime). It keeps me enticed with tons of different side stories and character development. Truly cannot recommend it enough.

A Wish for Interactive Audio Stories

Another tough question! Keep ’em coming.

Any game in the Batman Arkham Trilogy would be my choice here. You can easily identify every single character based on their voice. An interactive audio puzzle game would fit right in amongst the Dark Detective’s thrilling pursuits.

The Joker, Penguin, and Scarecrow have all teamed up to take down The Bat once and for all! Can he survive their ferocious onslaught…of puzzles?

I’d listen to that!!

Register for our Free Writing Workshop now!

If you are interested in creating your own interactive audio story, you can apply for our free webinar! It will introduce you to our interactive story game engine, TWIST, and teach you how to use it to create interactive audio stories.

Interested in contributing to our blog series?

If you would also like to publish a blog post on our website and share your own story with interested readers, simply fill out the contact form.

About the Author
Chris Mahnke
Chris Mahnke

Christian Mahnke is the author of the most successful interactive audiobooks “Iron Falcon” and “The Magic Forrest”. He has also written branded interactive fiction stories for companies such as Disney and Audible. Currently he is stuck in the tutorial of The Witcher 2.

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