The Final Fantasy series is celebrated for its longevity, varied gameplay, complex characters, but most of all for its brilliant, fully comprehensible storytelling. Every plot makes sense and all the pieces connect together at the end to make something truly beautiful and meaningful. I’ve been searching for the secret to the incredible writing behind these games for years. I had to use all the tools I was ever trained with in English class – sentence diagrams, research tools, story outlines, character analysis tools – and with all of this, I have finally done it. I’ve cracked the code that will allow anyone to create stories as meaningful and incredible as the stories of Final Fantasy.
Today, I reveal the formula to you, adventurers.
Please, stop crying. This is no time for tears. I know my incredible act of generosity is truly humbling. But now we need to focus on the true beauty within our reach. Think of the incredible stories that will be possible with this tool at our fingertips. Now every game, every short story, every novel, every blog post can be a beautiful masterpiece.
Are you ready, adventurers? Be sure to take notes, and read every single step before you start actually writing any of them out.
STEP ONE: Create Your Protagonist
The main character of your story should be full of teen angst, regardless of age. This angst is of course due to an incredibly dramatic backstory that you should slowly reveal over the course of the story. This backstory should secretly be the crux of the whole story, guaranteeing that your protagonist is connected to the plot and is plot-significant. Make your character design intentionally androgynous, and then randomly assign a gender later.
The most important aspect of your character is the weapon. You need to design a weapon that is highly unique. The more unlikely this device is to actually function as a practical piece of weaponry, the better. Chances are, this very unique weapon is the most distinguishing feature of your character.
STEP TWO: Create Your Antagonist
The main villain of the story is only marginally connected to your character’s backstory. This is because the villain needs to be someone in power – whether political, religious, or military. Perhaps the main character looked up to the villain in some way, or thought that he or she needed to be deposed. Now while the villain has little connection to the protagonist’s backstory, he or she needs his or her own tragic backstory that ends in the desire to rule the world.
Remember, androgyny is your friend. Write the whole story and then at the end just randomly plug in whichever gender pronoun you decide on.
STEP THREE: Create Your Conflict
Something has to cause these two angst-ridden characters to meet and for their battle of backstories to come to a head. It is very important that this conflict has nothing to do with either backstory. That makes the final outcome very predictable, and above all else you do not want your story to be predictable. It’s a really good idea to focus the conflict on some kind of hot-button issue like the environment or religion. That way, people have really strong feelings about it, feelings that will be completely misdirected and confused when the real story behind the story reveals itself.
When you design your completely disconnected conflict, design a protagonist and antagonist for it. These characters will seem significant for much of the story, but when the secret backstories are revealed, they won’t matter much anymore as attention focuses solely on your main hero and villain. Make sure that neither of these characters are angsty or androgynous – in fact, they should represent completely unreachable stylized ideals of the ultimate male or female character.
STEP FOUR: Create an Identity Crisis
Choose one of your four existing characters. This person is not who they think they are. Maybe they’ve been lied to about their parents, maybe scientific experimentation has caused them to get their identity confused with someone else’s, maybe the character is actually a clone. However you choose to do it, there’s a fifth character who is connected to this person specifically because of the identity crisis. Be sure to include a very, very dramatic unveiling scene wherein the whole world seems to crumble around the person with the identity crisis.
STEP FIVE: Throw in a Romance
Someone in this story has to be in love, because what the heck kind of story doesn’t have love in it? You can choose anybody – classic choices involve having the protagonist love the secondary protagonist for the fake conflict, or the fifth character who is connected to the story solely by the identity crisis. But you could have the villains be in love or even have the protagonist and the antagonist be in love. If you’re really attached to all your characters in their specific roles, you can add a sixth character solely for the purpose of being part of the romance. This love should be established through a forced date scenario, culminate in a kiss, and then never addressed again as the real conflict takes hold of the story.
STEP SIX: The Villain Becomes a God
You’ve got your characters, your fake conflict, your real conflict, a romance – all of this needs to converge together in an incredible final battle. Somehow, the events of the story should have caused the antagonist to become an all-powerful god. Be sure to play up their incredible abilities – attacks should devastate entire ecosystems or shatter planets. It’s completely impossible to defeat such an omnipotent being – unless of course you are the protagonist. Somehow your main character manages to finish the battle all alone, defeating the godlike antagonist and finally bringing the story to an end.
STEP SEVEN: Break One Rule
Finally, choose a step in this list and choose one aspect of it. Break the rule. If you write every incredible story in the exact same way, all of your writing will be too incredible and the world will worship you as the most ingenious human being to ever live. You must intentionally mar your perfect work so that all the children out there can have a more realistic role model to aspire to. In a way, ruining your otherwise brilliant masterpiece makes it all the more beautiful.
There you have it, adventurers, the ultimate Square Enix story creation guide. Feel free to use this as a writing prompt if you want to create a story that is truly brilliant.