Nov 132015

I learned an important lesson a little too late in writing my alien abduction chose-your-own-erotica story today. It might be too late for me but I will share it with you so you can learn from my mistakes.

An interactive story has branches but often these branches come back together to the same place. Imagine a story about investigating a haunted house. The first option asks if you want to check out the first floor, or go up the stairs to the second floor. if you pick the first floor, the story branches into the kitchen, the living room, etc. Eventually after checking those places, you will have the option to check out other first floor rooms or go up the stairs.

Now what most writers would do is if you pick going up the stairs, then the writer will link you to the same choice as if you decided to go up the stairs at the beginning of the book. You would then follow the story along that one path. That is what smart people do.

Dumb people like myself felt the need to make even similar choices different. I felt that readers on multiple read-throughs would get bored reading the same passage about going upstairs multiple times. My solution was to write a different going-up-the-stairs scene for each time the option came up. That way it never gets boring.

The problem is that I ended up writing what is essentially the same scene, eight fucking times, without any real significance between the eight. I may have changed up from where you were when you decided to go up the stairs, but when it came to the stairs themselves, it was pretty much the same. When I realized this and tried to add more variety to the stairs, didn’t create a difference worth mentioning. this is especially true for the reader who on their 3rd, 4th or 20th time up the stairs, probably won’t be paying that much attention themselves.

The only thing I ended up doing was really hating those fucking stairs.

So my advice to future interactive fiction writers is to feel free to recycle previous choices you have written and only skip recycling if you have something important that is going to be different.

  3 Responses to “Repeat, Repeat, Repeat”

  1. Have you considered computer IF? I imagine yours would be rather more than Leather Goddesses of Phobos…

    • I have looked into IF. With my particular personality, I feel that the power that IF gives you would encourage my worse gaming traits and I would focus more on game mechanics over story.

      • Yup, completely understandable. Perhaps you could convert one of your existing interactive stories over in your infinite free time… ;) (I also don’t know of IF apps with in-app purchase off-hand, either. But I don’t have much time to play with them on my phone. Or on any screen. Reading fits well into my no-screen time.)

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