One of the more complicated parts of coming up with a game is, surprisingly, also one of the easiest to do in many cases. But it is not
always as simple as one might like. Most specifically, this blog deals specifically with coming up with storylines for multiple person games. While some of the advice might be applicable to writing a story on one's own, a good deal of the advice is focused around the other players.
I will note that this is my own opinion, as per normal. You might always find that my advice is completely and totally flawed.1) Choose your Genre or Genres
In this step you choose what sort of game you're looking to run, in particular the general setting and feel of the game. Are you doing a Fantasy game? Science Fiction? Modern? Post-Apocalyptic? But the questions don't end there, because that simply determines part of the game. Now you have to consider the type of story. Are you looking for Romance? Comedy? Surivival? Horror? Epic Fantasy? Space Opera? Many things go into the genre of the game, and such influences the entire game. Some people even figure out what particular genres they want by looking at pictures, or by finding a character that they want to play who tells them what sort of game they are looking for. All of these methods can make for amazing games...but they aren't the spark that will kindle life into the game.2) Choose your Setting
The second step of figuring out a storyline is to choose your setting. If you're wanting to run a medieval court intrigue, it doesn't work to set your game in a sleepy border town, unless that's simply a starting point. The key is to match your setting to the type of story you're running. You build a grand, sweeping conflict across a region for Epic Fantasy, a dark city of hidden darkness for horror, or a grand, possibly corrupt, castle and court for a court intrigue. Many people choose to take a pre-built setting for their setting, as they don't want the work that is required to make an in-depth, believable setting. It certainly isn't required for a setting to believable, but for many people such is required to give the world enough depth for the game to go anywhere.3) Building your Storyline
If you've done the previous two steps, this step often takes care of itself. The main thing to ask yourself is, what is the goal of the story/game? If its open-ended and has no true goal, then you have to give a reason for people to get together. Often this is skipped over, and can be a death sentence for a game. If the characters are in a school, perhaps they're all in the same class. Maybe they live close together. Or perhaps they are forced together by a group of powerful enemies that they have in common. There are many ways to go about this. But if you have a goal, the main thing you should do is create a rough line of approach for the players to get there. You need to know how
the characters can reach the goal, without shoving it down their throats, which can cause dissatisfaction. Create loose threads that lead to the end goal, whether its clues in a mystery that they might spot, or small groups of servants that the players frequently encounter. Make them significant enough to catch the attention of players, but don't force them on the players (usually). Remember, no plan survives contact with the players. You need to have multiple ways to your goal, and let the players drive themselves there.4) The Presentation
Of all the steps, this is quite possibly the most important. No matter how good your idea is, if you present it badly when looking for players, you won't get any responses. First off, carefully consider the name of the game/idea. The name is what will capture the attention of others, what gets them to actually look at your idea. So consider your name wisely, and try to make it evocative. Second, tell people what type of story it is. Don't play coy and dance around the issue, instead, tell them what they need to know. What genre you're going for, the setting, the feel of the storyline, and what you have planned in general. You don't have to tell them everything, but give them enough information to get a feel for the game and whether they would like it. Be very clear in how you present it, but at the same time, you want to draw a mental picture that will pull them in. Don't make your idea boring...that will kill it as thoroughly as if you chose an idea that doesn't have any interest to others.5) Review It
At this stage, go back and look at your story. Think about it carefully. Is it something that others would enjoy? Is it written well enough to draw the eye? But one thing to ask yourself, do you have too big of a role? If this is a multi-person game, having a single character who's so much better and so integral to the plot, and who isn't the goal, can drive people away. In fact, this is the main reason that I have seen that people don't join games or leave them after a short time.