Bill_Ingersoll, The Journeyman Scrivener
I am the author, coauthor, and publisher of thirteen books that I will broadly categorize as "regional non-fiction." Despite being a published writer--or perhaps because of it--I am well aware that getting ahead in this genre is an uphill battle. Therefore, rather than letting some of my story ideas languish or become forgotten, this seems to be a good format to share them.
You are alone in your remote cabin, located on a dead-end road in the Adirondack Mountains. A powerful hurricane has switched directions and is now bearing down on your wilderness retreat, bringing with it strong winds and heavy rains. Your shelter is old and completely off the grid; the nearest cell signal is many miles away.
Sitting by the woodstove while the wind howls and rain pelts the tin roof, you are startled by the sound of someone knocking at the door. Who could possibly be out at this location, in these conditions? It is a young couple, claiming their car has broken down. They have been drawn to the light in your window like moths to a flame.
Naturally you are inclined to offer hospitality. But it soon becomes apparent that your new guests may not be who they seem.
- Entry in the Break! contest
- 24 endings spread out across 85 total pages
- Individual storypath lengths range from 7 to 15 pages
"Sometimes things happen that have no explanation, Al. What do you make of that?"
© 2020 Bill Ingersoll
Image source: wallhere.com
Theryl Ureste fears she may be one of the few survivors of a genocidal attack on the planet Chaandria. As the alien race known as the Iib Ch'iib exterminate the 12 million humans living on this distant world, they have so far overlooked Ureste's small-scale titanium mine on the rocky moon Chhota Chandrama. For the last three months Theryl has been watching with horror as the alien fleet grows in strength, her despair mounting as all contact with Chaandria is lost — and with it, all likelihood of finding her husband and young son. Supplies are dwindling, and soon she and her employees will face starvation if they don't escape to safety.
Therefore Theryl must attempt an impossible journey if she has any hope of locating her family in the middle of the war zone. This is an action will almost certainly attract the attention of the Iib Ch'iib conquerors — and lead to instant annihilation.
- 7 endings, with any single read-through about the length of a short story
- 12 million people exterminated by the Iib Ch'iib
- 13 lightyears to the nearest safe world
- 2 lost members of your family
- 1 driving motivation
Not every family's story ends in happiness.
© 2020 Bill Ingersoll
Revised April 30, 2020 to substitute artwork
Image source: wallpaperplay.com
You are a young recruit in the Astral Navy, serving aboard a minor transport vessel making routine personnel transport runs to Star Base Ishtria. When a malfunction requires the captain to drop the ship out of hyperspace, you find yourself in orbit above Giri Minor--a deserted world with a dark history and circled by uncharted asteroid clouds.
This is a story told in the classical "gamebook" format. This means that it is more narrative-driven and less of a game, and roughly the same length as many printed books in this genre.
- 19 endings, including 4 "preferred" endings, and 1 epilogue
- 1 abandoned colony
- 1 alien with ambiguous motivations
- 16 passengers aboard the transport ship, 4 crew members, but only ??? survivors
- Thousands of sand-dwelling creatures with mind-altering properties
Can you survive Giri Minor?
(c) 2019 Bill Ingersoll
Image source: tomswallpapers.com.
It's been four years since you were rescued from Giri Minor, and because of your heroic actions you have been commissioned as an officer in the Astral Navy. Your first assignment as a newly-promoted lieutenant aboard the Starship Orion: search for the noted xenoanthropologist Dr. Lori Munro and her husband Ander Dyo, who have gone missing on the planet Folvan. As you explore the so-called "Grass Planet," known for its expansive prairie environment and bronze-age civilization, you will find that not all is as it seems.
This is a story told in the classical "gamebook" format. This means that it is more narrative-driven and less of a game, with many unique storypaths resulting from the choices you make.
- 45 endings, with 1 epilogue, told in 105,000 words
- 5 people assigned to your expedition
- 4 missing researchers
- 3 hungry teek-teeks
- 2 Iib Ch'iib raids
- 1 closely-guarded secret... and only 1 way to learn it.
Will you unlock the secret of the Grass Planet?
(c) 2019 Bill Ingersoll
Image source: tomswallpapers.com.
Previously in the Orion Chronicles:
Betha Willamon is a citizen of the city of Utopia Planitia, a former American colony on Mars and an important shipyard for the production of deep-space exploration vessels. In its heyday it was a thriving city, built under the Martian surface. But ever since the despot known as Colonel Green took control, living conditions in U.P. have become soul crushing… and no one is allowed to leave.
When Betha hears a rumor of a U.S. Space Force expedition that has recently landed nearby on the surface of Mars, she dreams of fleeing to a place where trees grow tall and people swim in fresh water. But is it even possible to escape Utopia?
Choose from two versions of this story:
- Tiny 'Topias Jam Version: 2250 words, 15 pages, 6 endings
- Expanded Version: 11,434 words, 31 pages, 10 endings
- SUITABLE FOR MATURE READERS ONLY
© 2020 Bill Ingersoll
Image source: goodfon.com
As evening arrives on Thanksgiving Day, Hammie Dansker is still struggling with the recent death of his father — and the even more recent marriage of his mother to his uncle. After a tense dinner prepared by his mother and former girlfriend, Hammie steps out onto the porch of his late father's farm… and notices that the dogs, Guildenstern and Rosencrantz, are dead. A familiar but unwelcome sound can be heard out in the pastures. This can mean only one thing: the Vicious Moles of Nature have returned!
This is horror story… based on a tragic misinterpretation of Hamlet.
- 8 endings
- 1 night of terror
- ??? vicious moles
© 2019 Bill Ingersoll
Image source: wallhere.com.
You have been hired to retrieve the Stone of Vul-Kar, a purple gem located in an ancient temple on Woban Island's highest point. But this mysterious and recently discovered speck of land in the South Pacific is inhabited by a fierce tribe of three-eyed cannibals who are determined to kill any and all intruders. And as forbidding as that sounds, the Wobans are just some of the obstacles that stand in your way to glory and avarice: greedy collectors, ruthless murderers, and scorned colleagues all await you on the adventure that lies ahead.
Will you be able to retrieve the jewel and bring it back to your employer safely? Or will you be just the latest victim of this deadly island?
A Brief Note about this Gamebook:
I first wrote Woban Island in 1988, when I was in the seventh grade. The story was inspired by "Fireball Island," a three-dimensional board game that debuted in 1986 and was reissued in 2018. The object was to be the first player to reach the jewel located on the highest point of the island, without being bowled over by the red marble "fireballs." In my story, I substituted the fireballs with the three-eyed Wobans because I thought they would be more interesting to write about, and less of a random force of nature. Otherwise, the basic premise remains the same: you are one of several adventurers vying to be the first to reach the jewel.
This version is a page-by-page modernization of my 1988 hand-printed original. It is told in the traditional gamebook format, similar to the classic Choose Your Own Adventure™ series I was reading at that age. But rather than just transcribing an otherwise amateurish work from my teenaged years, I embellished the story, fleshed out the characters, and added tons of detail. This CYS version of Woban Island is a new edifice built on an old foundation.
Accept Woban Island for what it is: a preposterous and fantastical adventure story written by a 13-year-old, adapted 31 years later for the momentary amusement of a 21st-century audience. If you dwell too much on plausibility, you're missing the point. I had a hoot writing this one. Twice.
- 29 endings
- 3 main story paths
- 2 potential "employers"
- 1 objective: be the first to obtain the Stone of Vul-Kar
(c) 1988 & 2019 Bill Ingersoll
Image source: Wallpaperplay.com
Recent PostsSci-Fi September Prompt! on 9/17/2020 12:20:20 PM
Subjects of this nature have been part of my 2020 book reading list. Alien Oceans makes the case for Europa and other moons of Jupiter and Saturn... just in time for a Europa-bound probe that is set to launch soon.
On the other hand, I have Rare Earth in the stack of books waiting to be read. The argument here is that while life may be abundant in the cosmos, nearly all of it will be microbial. Earth itself was the same way for billions of years, until these microbes started banding together into complex organisms. But for that to happen, there has to be a whole set of special circumstances: stable orbits, a star just the right magnitude, neighboring gas giants that stay where they belong, tectonic movement of the planetary crust, and so forth. Each stage in the development of life (multicelluar organisms, DNA, complex organisms, intelligence) is an extraordinary occurrence that winnows downs the odds it could be replicated elsewhere; the reason why SETI has been unsuccessful is because there is nothing to find. This should be interesting to read.
Sci-Fi September Prompt! on 9/17/2020 7:26:28 AM
"Venus: It's a nice place to visit, but the surface temperature of the atmosphere is hot enough to melt lead."
Sci-Fi September Prompt! on 9/9/2020 9:32:56 PM
Below is the premise of my own storygame... if other responsibilities don't devour all of my writing time this fall. I got a good a good chunk of this done in one marathon session. Might need two or three more just like it to see this to completion, but I've been wanting to complete a few short-ish stories. Likewise, I have a good premise for Mara's prompt... all I need is time to do it.
It is the distant future, and Earth has been ravaged by an ancient war with an alien foe known as the Cryndy. The War of Extermination, as it was called, left the world scarred by flames and littered with the debris of ruined warships and Battle Mech. The surviving human population lives in scattered settlements called Steads.
Elia Redling is an outcast in a remote Stead located at the edge of one of those ancient battlefields. With neighbors who are fearful of her red hair due to superstitions she barely understands, Elia spends her days hunting alongside her pet fox, Olix, exploring the surrounding woods and ruins in search of their daily meals.
One gloomy afternoon she finds evidence humanity's ancient menace may still be stalking the woods surrounding the Stead. She could notify her neighbors, but will they believe her — or blame her for bringing this threat upon them? If her suspicions are correct, though, this may turn out to be more than she can handle herself…
Sci-Fi September Prompt! on 9/9/2020 9:24:03 PM
Thanks for bumping this. I probably made the mistake of posting this during the whole blow-up with your "don't gaf" thread, and thus it got buried...
Halloween Writing Jam on 9/7/2020 8:02:29 PM
I had an idea for just such a storygame, although it's going to come down to whether I can set aside the time.
Sci-Fi September Prompt! on 8/31/2020 11:02:41 PM
Sci-fi storygame writing prompt, anyone?
Earlier this summer there was a sci-fi-themed speed-writing challenge that... kind of fizzled, even though several people indicated they had ideas they wanted to finish. So why not make September the month to follow through?
This is merely a friendly writing prompt — not a contest in any way, shape, or form. Participate if you choose, ignore if you prefer. Completely unsponsored by the site admins, not a single thing at stake… as far as I'm concerned. But if you have a sci-fi story idea and need help finding the motivation to complete a story, maybe this prompt can be of service!
Deadline: 11:59 PM local time, 30 September 2020, whichever time zone you call home.
Theme: Whatever you want, within the science fiction genre. But if you need a prompt, maybe one of these images might spark an idea:
#1: Discovering the Lost Portal
#2: First Contact of the Bizarre Kind
#3: Ultimate Leviathan
#4: Flight of the Titans
#5: The Forest Dwellers
#6: Master of Dimensions
#7: Moons of Minos
#8: Shadow of the Giants
#9: The Long Passage
#10: Heretics of Gamorh
#11: Time Voyager
#12: Last Survivors
(All images found on goodfon.com.)
How to Participate: Just announce your interest here, and share your progress as it occurs! When you complete your story, be sure to post a link so we can all provide feedback.
Looking forward to the results!
don't gaf about writing anymore on 8/31/2020 10:11:04 AM
If you can write fueled by alcohol, then I salute you. I might get some writing time in with a beer in hand, but at the same time I can almost feel the neurons slowly shutting down for the day. More often, I need a shot of whiskey or something when I'm done, to turn off the cup of coffee I had at the start of the session.
Don't gaf about writing anymore on 8/30/2020 6:02:05 PM
There is a lot here I can relate to. I have something of a mildly bipolar relationship with writing; sometimes the juices are flowing, and sometimes everything seems so futile. I try to take advantage the first frame of mind, and identify the other so I can do something else instead.
Today is a good example: earlier this summer you had posted a "sci-fi speed-writing challenge" that I had an idea for, but I had just started the story for Camelon's contest and couldn't afford to get distracted. So even though no one submitted anything for that challenge… yesterday I had an opportunity to devote a block of time to cranking out some words, and indeed I got through 8000 words on a new storygame before the brain cells stopped firing around 11 PM. I'm here now because I have all night to burn through a few more hours of writing… but after looking at the same page for over an hour and only coming up with a few paragraphs, I realized it wasn't happening. I'll probably read for a while instead.
Certainly, having a regular sleep cycle is helpful. Yeah, sure, there are nights when I'm up to 4 AM working on something, but that's not anything I could sustain. I see those as one-off events, where I have the motivation and energy to keep going until I'm done. Then it takes me a day or two to recover. But I absolutely feel more imaginative and productive if I've been sleeping reasonably well.
My employer would love it if I could crank out lots of overtime like everyone else I work with, but I know from experience that I'd be useless to everybody after just a few hours. Currently I give them a solid 8 hours, and then I have to insist on moving on. Otherwise I'd burn myself out, feeling depleted during the day with nothing left over for my free time.
And more than once I have soured on things I used to enjoy writing about. For example, I used to keep a detailed journal of my outdoor trips for about 12 years. I enjoyed doing it, right up until the day I didn't. Nothing changed, except that I got bored with the idea and the weekly writing became a chore I had to force myself to do. So rather than forcing it, I moved onto something else (...which isn't intended as encouragement to quit whatever you're working on, just that the inability to focus on a project might itself be telling you something).
Scripted Satchel on 8/26/2020 9:44:57 PM
Make sure you cut it down with a herring.
And the Winners are.... on 8/25/2020 5:19:11 PM