How Do You Make a Visual Novel? 

If you’re a fan of visual novels, then you’ve likely thought, ‘How do you make a visual novel?’ especially if you’re considering making your own at some point. Most people who read them have some storyline that they’d like to see and there’s no better way to make it happen than by simply creating your own novel. If you have a story that you want to tell, then you just need a little bit of know how to turn it into a visual novel that other people can check out. It’s best to break down the process into easily managed sections until you end up with a finished product. 

Find an Engine

The first thing you need to do is find a reliable engine that you can create your content in. An engine is the basis for the code that you’ll be using to create your game. It’s also the user interface that will allow you to animate and place your assets. Every game that you play is created in an engine of some sort, from independent PC games to AAA console titles. It’s possible to make your own engine from scratch, but that’s a process all its own. If you want a powerful package that is free and industry standard, then start with, Ren’Py. Ren’Py is good for PC and Mac and comes with lots of tutorials that you can use to learn how to use it from the ground up. Ren’Py is by no means a fast style to learn, and it isn’t the only thing you’ll need to create a visual novel, but if you’re serious, you can’t go wrong with the community. We reviewed a few visual novel authoring tools in a recent article, which you might want to check out too. Once you have the engine settled, it’s time to create the assets that will become your visual novel. 

Visual Assets 

There are five different aspects of the visual assets you’ll need for your game. These can be created from scratch, or you can find resources to download them. Once you download them, you can typically use them as is or change them around to make them unique. The first thing to look at is the collection of backgrounds you’ll be using. This of the background of the sets where your story takes place. It’s what you see behind the characters, and you’ll need one for every scene in your game. Next up are the sprites. A sprite is the 2d image of your character and you’ll need a few of them for each character in your visual novel. Anytime your character changes clothes or the way they’re standing, you’ll need a specific sprite for it. After that comes the computer graphics and specials effects. These two things are the movement of your visual novel. There are lots of ways to go about creating them, but your engine is where you’re going to make it all happen. Finally, you’ll get to the text. This is a major part of any visual novel, so you’ll have to make a decision and stick with it. 

Showing your Text 

There are two common ways of getting your text onto the screen and it depends on what you want to focus on and how much work you want to put into your visual novel. The first way is called ADV and it’s best for adventure stories. That’s because it’s the best way to make the action the center of the reader’s attention. ADV does this by putting all text at the bottom of the screen, in its own text box. That leaves the rest of the screen open for all of the animation that you want to create in your engine. The other way to do it is by making the text the star of your content. This is called NVL and best when you want to make the novel itself the star of the production. This method has you overlaying the words over the images so you can read in front of whatever you have going on behind it. This is the best bet when you don’t want to spend all of your time creating visuals or animating characters and it’s an easy way to create your first piece. 

Don’t Forget Audio 

While you’re doing all of that, you never want to lose sight of the audio that’s going to be playing with your visual novel. Even though it’s a visual medium, the audio is just as important. You’ll need both background music and sound effects to have a complete visual novel. Background music is there to set the mood for what you’re reading or the action you’re seeing. It should match the mood of the scene at all times. On top of that, you need sound effects. They should follow the action on the screen and let your viewers immerse themselves in what’s happening. 


Finally, you have to create the interaction that the player has with your visual novel. You have to decide if you want to add in mechanics to turn your content into something closer to a game than a novel. You can add point and click elements as well as branching storylines to give them lots of gaming on top of the novel they’re reading. You can also dial the gameplay back so the clicking it only there to progress the text that they’re reading. Finally, you can completely forgo any interaction and make them read at the pace that you choose. There are visual novels of each style, so the one you go with it really up to you and the content that you want to create. 

Conclusion: Creation takes Time 

No matter which choices you make, it’s important to understand that creating a visual novel takes time. It also take patience and persistence. The final outcome, however, will make it worth the struggle. Give yourself the chance to make a few visual novels and you’ll end up with content that other people love to read while you develop your own unique styles.