Choose-Your-Own Novel Month

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dacharya64
Site Owner
Posts: 7

Here's some advice on getting started on that choose-your-own-adventure novel! This is all about the pre-writing process; what goes on before the actual material is written. 


The first thing your wondering is whether or not planning is necessary. As someone who tends to avoid any planning when it comes to stories, I hate to admit it: planning out a choose-your-own-adventure story HELPS. It helps a lot. Now if winging it has always worked for you, feel free to dive right into that story. But if you're really lost on how to begin, here's some advice I have purely from experience:


1. Medium


Surprisingly, this is going to have more effect on your story than anything else. First of all, the medium: is your story going to be typed or handwritten? And where do you want to plan it? Are you going to use sticky notes or a timeline? Perhaps flowcharts would be the best way to organize?


From experience, it's safe to say that unless you've got a good plan on organization your story is going to get very complicated very fast. I would strongly recommend typing over handwritten work. Notebooks (for me) are too linear of a structure. I find it quite difficult to make sure I have responses to all the choices; it's also difficult to add in content without losing track of the story. It's not impossible to write a choose-your-own-adventure story on paper. If you really want it handwritten, I'd recommend a binder or notecards, something easier to manipulate than a bound notebook. 


I use Microsoft Word for writing my choose-your-own-adventure stories. The automatic indenting for numbers can be used to organize the choice trees - the first choices would all be tabbed over once, the choices off of those choices underneath. It's a bit difficult to explain; there's an example here.


As for taking notes on your story: I have a personal liking to sticky notes and flow charts. With flow charts it's easier to get down different branches and sub-branches of the story, and where different parts converge. And sticky notes are easily arrangeable (and discardable) for convenience. 


2. Statistics


ChoiceofGames.com allows you to create games with statistics that will change based on various actions. For instance, if you choose to learn martial arts early on, your "strength" statistic goes from 0 to 1. And later, when you're beat up in an alleyway, you can only fight back if your strength is greater than 0. This means that if you don't choose to learn martial arts you can't fight back in the alley. Statistics can range from personality traits to items in an inventory. You can even use them for random generation. Having stats can add another layer of interest to your story, but they can get quite complicated. I'd say unless you're sure how you want to use the statistics to use few, especially if this is your first time writing a choose-your-own-adventure story. 


3. Genre and Story


The nice thing about choose-your-own-adventure stories are that they're virtually limitless. Once you start off, you can pretty much take it anywhere. Really any genre is possible; write what you want to write. The character doesn't even have to be human. When planning the story, though, I'd recommend planning out the objective of the reader. It's all well and good if you don't have an objective or you don't say what it is immediately, but sometimes it's nice for the reader if he/she knows what needs to be accomplished and takes steps to accomplish it. 


December 2, 2010 at 8:05 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Outasync
Member
Posts: 2

Typing is good for working out the details of the story, especially if you plan to put it online.  However, I like to start the story on paper, using a tree-diagram of the sort that can be awkward to do on a computer.  This suits me especially well since many of my choices eventually lead to the same outcome.  On paper I can easily draw loops and arrows to show the story path.


In the "Choice of Games" programming code this would need a lot of "goto" commands, as well as labels.  All a bit intimidating for a programming-newbie like myself.  I'll be mapping the story out on paper before I try to put it on screen.

--

Outasync

WARNING: Occasionally sane

December 30, 2010 at 9:23 PM Flag Quote & Reply

dacharya64
Site Owner
Posts: 7

Yes. I find that paper's good for getting the initial plot down (what scenes lead to the next scene) but for actually writing the content and fleshing out the story, a typing program has its benefits.

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Those who control the past control the future. Those who control the present control the past.

January 1, 2011 at 12:48 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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