I wrote this story for an English class but it was way too long so I wrote something else that I'll also post if anyone wants to read it. I had some friends read it and they said it was good, but most of my friends have bad taste so I'd like to see if it's even worth continuing. An yes, I know it ends on a cliffhanger, its not finished. If so, does it have any potential to be a good story game? I have yet to proofread so don't feel obligated to(read: don't even think about) pointing out my millions of errors.
The floorboards creak as my toes touched the cold floor of the old Raemus house, just west of Bridge street. The sun had not yet begun to call for the beginning of a new winter day in the large village of Salem, Massachusetts, and yet there was still a flicker of light peeking under the door from the hall. I stepped out of bed and tiptoed to the door to listen at the keyhole. There was no sound other than a soft breeze, which meant someone had left the window open at the end of the hall, even though it was the middle of winter. That explained the chill that had settled over the house during the night. I turned the doorknob and the door flew open with a loud bang. I turned to see my sister, Esen Raemus, at the wide open window wearing only her nightgown.
“Esen, it’s a bit early to be up, don’t you think?” I said jokingly, with no response. “You don’t want to catch pneumonia.” She turned suddenly, as if she had just realized I was there, despite all the noise I had made earlier. As I looked into her eyes I realized that their usual bright green color had been replaced by a ghostly gray. I was worried now, she could be sick or even cursed by one of the witches that were being hunted all across town.
“Are you the one I’m looking for?” She said in a voice lacking color. She turned as if listening to a voice behind her. “No. You’re not green.”
“Are you feeling well?” I asked, scared that she had gone mad and was to be taken away. “Maybe we should wake up father—”
“Father,” she said, her voice filled with disgust. “No. No, he won’t be necessary. Neither will you, thank you very much. Now, go back to bed and let us be on our way.” She sounded remarkably calm for someone who had just referred to herself as we. She turned back to the window and began speaking in a calm, confident voice that sounded nothing like my sister’s. I reached for her hand and she turned to me, looking genuinely terrified, as if I were a stranger. Then she began to scream. It was a continuous high pitched voice that caused dust to rain from the ceiling. I covered my ears and closed my eyes tight. I could feel myself falling, down, down, down, through the thin oak floors and the cold hard ground all the way to the core of the earth. A burning sensation engulfed me as I watched my hands melt before my eyes and I jolted awake. I could have believed I had been dreaming except all of my blankets were off and my door was wide open. I moved to the still open window and was surprised to see that the flame looked charred and the lock was completely melted into an unrecognizable, twisted blob. I checked my sister’s room and found her gone. I turning to look for her when a voice called me back. It was Ms. Wilson from down the road. I sighed heavily. Ms. Wilson was unmarried and spent her days wandering through town, looking for gossip to share with her rich lady friends. The fact that our house was her next stop was disquieting. I wanted to ignore her, but I knew that she would stand under our window until we acknowledged her. I walked briskly over to the window and asked, in the politest way possible,
“What do you want, Ms.Wilson?”
“Well William, I heard some loud noises coming from your house in the night and I was just making sure everything’s okay.” As if, I thought. Ms. Wilson was always looking for a reason to accuse someone of witchcraft and I was not willing to blemish my family’s name.
“We’re all fine.” I said, gritting my teeth.
“Well, you may say that, but I haven’t seen your sister around this morning. You see, it’s very peculiar for a young girl like her, or any girl for that matter, to disappear the morning after after a screaming fit like hers, and I was wondering if your father had anything to say about it. May I speak to him, please?”
“Please do not bring my father into this. He is not home right now and even if he was he would be too busy to speak with annoying old ladies like you!” I slammed the window shut. I hadn’t meant to lose my temper, but Ms. Wilson had voiced all of my darkest fears. If my sister wasn’t in town then where could she be? Could she really be crazy or cursed? Or was she really practicing witchcraft in the patch of woods behind our house? And where was my father, he’s usually home at this hour and his presence would be reassuring?
After thinking on the subject while getting dressed I decided that I would go into town and look for the both of them. I put on my boots and jacket and began to walk.
When I reached town I saw my father. He was talking with the mayor and caught my eye as I passed. I turned and pretended I didn’t see. I entered the nearest shop, who’s owner happened to have been friends with my mother and knew our family very well. I was just about to ask if he had seen my sister when someone else called my name. It was the butcher and he was waving me over so I went.
“Have you seen your sister, because if not you might want to go to the square?” He said.
“I haven’t seen my sister since last night, sir.” I let out a sigh of relief. Whatever she was doing, at least she wasn't lying dead in the woods. “What is she doing in the square?”
“Well,” he said nervously “you might want to go find out yourself.”
As I walked to the square I could see everyone staring at me. I only caught parts of what they whispered to each other.
“Is that the Raemus boy…” said one
“Yes, the girls sister…” said another. I wasn't aware that Esen was so well known around town.
“Ms. Wilson said that strange things were going on in that house last night.” It took all of my willpower not to respond. I knew that talking to Ms.Wilson would mean trouble.
“They say his sister is offering to teach the young children magic spells! I’m surprised the authorities haven’t subdued her yet.” This comment came from a particularly fat man with a brown bowler hat.
“Well, we always knew there was something wrong with that family,” said a tall woman in a fur coat standing next to him. I broke into a run. If Esen was speaking of witchcraft then something was seriously wrong. Didn't she know how much was at stake? She would be hung, our father’s business would lose money, and, worst of all, our family name would be ruined. We had grown up learning that honor was the only way to survive, how could she do this?
When I got to the square I saw her sitting on a bench with a small boy. He had a pencil and paper sitting beside him.
“Good,” she said in a voice very unlike her own, “Now you know how to make fruit grow on trees and will never be hungry again!” This was ridiculous, where was she getting these ideas?
“These spells are boring!” The little boy whined, “I want to learn something more interesting! I want a spell that can make me strong or make loud bangs and bright lights!”
“Okay,” Esen sighed “But I don’t see how that will help you in life. Here, write this” she muttered something unintelligible and the boy began to write it, making the letters tall and thin. “Do you need help spelling it?” Esen asked.
“No thank you, I know my letters,” the boy said “ Now I’m going to show my mommy what I learned!” He got up and gave her a hug before running away. I wiped the smile off my face and started towards my sister. She must have seen me coming because she quickly turned and began walking in the other direction. I yelled hear name and ran to catch up with her.
“What are you doing?” I asked angrily.
“Why do you care?” she retorted scornfully.
“I care because people are making outrageous accusations and I need to know if they’re true!” It was then that I realized her eyes were still that gray from the night before and I had no chance of winning this argument.
“If you must know William all I did was teach some of the young children things they ought to know!” Something was still wrong with her, I could tell. The sweet sister I knew would never risk so much for something so stupid.
“What happened to my sister?” I yelled “Who are you and what have you done with her you witch!” People were staring now. By noon we would be the talk of the town and Esen would be taken away or hung for crimes she didn't purposely commit. I had to get her home. I grabbed her arm and pulled her towards home. She struggled and we took much longer than we should have if she had been in her right mind. When we were about half way home I heard a twig snap. I turned suddenly and saw Ms.Wilson walking behind us.
“Oh William,” she said, smiling an evil smile “you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into! You should leave your sister be. She chose her path, and it is against god and his ideals. You don’t want to take the same path she did. If you give her to me, then maybe I can show you the proper way to deal with witches.” I turned and ran. My sister was not in her right mind and I didn't want her to be injured by an overly religious woman who could even be a witch herself.
When we reached home I pulled my sister over the threshold and locked the door. Then I let it all out.
“What were you thinking? Practicing witchcraft is a serious breach of Christian ideas and you could be killed! That boy could be killed! How many children did you corrupt with your so called knowledge?” My sister looked confused. Her eyes were back to their normal shade of green.
“William,” she said in her normal voice, “What are you talking about?”
“Don’t play with me Esen! You know what I’m talking about! You know what you’ve been doing! Don’t you realize that even talking about witchcraft could make our family outcasts?” She looked stunned. For the first time, I thought that maybe there was a chance that she actually didn't know what had happened. Was that possible? Could people just lose memories of entire mornings, for no reason at all? Or was magic at work here? I didn't know. I sighed.
“Go to your room Esen, we’ll discuss when father gets home.” She was crying now, but I couldn't comfort her. I needed time to think, time to decide if I believed her or not.
While I waited in my room for our father to arrive, something strange happened. I saw a flickering light from under the door, just like last night. But this time it was brighter. It continued getting brighter until it seemed to be right behind my door. My door flung open and I gasped. Standing in my doorway was a tall transparent figure that looked like a woman.
“Hello William,” she said in a voice that reminded me of all my best memories. They flashed through my head in a tornado of colors that made me want laugh and cry and scream all at the same time. I tried to say "hello" but the words got mixed around in my throat and came out as "Who are you?"
Ah, the question of: "Does it have any potential to be a good story game?" I'd say the answer is yes. Granted, I'm of the view that almost any idea can work, so I will add that you seem to have an interesting premise here, and the writing looks solid to me. However, a storygame has got to have some sort of reader interaction, otherwise it is just a story, and as you haven't shown any of that, I can't confidently say if what you have in mind will work or not.
With that said, I do still think it can work, but the actual plot (beyond the set up), the branching (whatever form), and the payoffs for the questions set up, they are all missing, and generally it is something you'll want to have by the end. Yet, as this is obviously just the opening, I will add that as far as openings go, this one is well written and establishes things at a good pace (I'd say). So I suppose my main 'issue' with this is that there is a lot of writing without any choice, and it seems like there will be more writing before a choice as well, and while this can certainly work, it is not the most common style (or maybe I've just seen the wrong storygames), but it does make me a bit worried about if you'd be able to pull it off.
But, in the end, I'd say keep writing (assuming you want to, of course). I don't see any huge glaring issue that would outright prevent this from working as a storygame, and heck, my main complaint was that you wrote a lot without choices, but a storygame that is more story than game is perfectly fine, and being able to write is a good thing! So... I stand by my initial answer of yes, this does have potential to be a good storygame. Best of luck with it.
TL;DR I say, it can certainly work, so keep writing! Interesting premise and lots of ways for the plot to go, but also curious about how you'll handle the 'game' aspect of a storygame. Best of luck!
P.S. I'll quickly mention that if your English teacher is good, getting feedback from them on your work could be a good idea, as they are a professional teacher, after all, and so their feedback would likely be better suited to helping you (and you in particular) improve your writing, and what not. BUT if you do not think this a good course of action, yet still want feedback, the forums here do have a good deal of people willing to provide feedback on pretty much anything. I will say that specific questions are helpful, as it allows the feedback to be more focused on what matters to you, but even general thoughts can and do get provided (I just worry about their usefulness, given how much there is to writing, but they are clearly helpful in at least some way, otherwise no would want them). Oh, also, I wouldn't mind reading the other thing you wrote, as I will admit to being somewhat curious. Further, as your teacher would have read over that other one (I assume), I'm curious about what they thought (assuming they are not one of the 'bad' teachers), as again, they are literally an English teacher, so I tend to be curious about how they look at writing (although sharing this is purely up to you, and even if you don't wish to divulge what the teacher thought, I'd still be interested in seeing the thing you wrote).
P.P.S Oh, also, if you got any questions about what I wrote here (or if you spot something that doesn't make sense) feel free to ask (or point out the error[s]).
Okay, thanks for the feedback! The other story is here. I got a 97% for grammar issues (I can't do commas) but I argued until I got a 99%.
“Hello Forest Valentine,”said the man in the seat across from me. I think he told me his name in the beginning of these interviews, but I didn’t care enough to pay attention. “We know you say that there is no possible way that your father did this, but all the evidence points towards him and we want to hear your story again, just to make sure there’s not something we missed.” I’ve told them my story a hundred times and wrote it down fifty times after that, but they always want me to tell it again, waiting for me to slip up and show some sort of inconsistencies. I guess I should explain what’s happening. My mother was murdered almost four weeks ago and my father and I are the only witnesses. He’s probably in another room like this one, explaining the exact same things I was.
“I told you,” I said after a short period of thought, “I was alone in the house with my mother when I heard her falling to the floor upstairs. I ran up and found her dead on the floor. The windows were all intact and I didn’t see anyone coming down the steps when I went up.”
“Yes, we know all that. It was confirmed that the murder weapon was a slow working poison which means that the person who did this did not have to be in the house at the time of death. The poison could have been given any time within five hours before your mother died. This is why your father is the prime suspect.” My father works in a government lab that does the LD50 tests. The man looked tired of repeating this and he sighed between sentences. “Forest, I know this is hard for you, but don’t you want justice for your mother?”
“Of course I want justice! But imprisoning an innocent man isn’t justice. If my father is convicted then I have no one!” I was angry now. Angry that my mother was dead and angry that my father was being blamed for it.
“Fine Forest. Let’s move onto something else since you clearly can’t approach this topic with an open mind. I want you to explain what your family life was like. Did your parents argue a lot?” I hated this question. It implied that my parents didn’t love each other as much as normal parents did.
“I’ve told you all there is to know. My parents never argued. My mom and dad both work a lot so they don’t see much of each other but when they are both home everyone’s happy.” I’ve said these exact words so many times that I’ve almost memorized them.
“Okay. So you’re saying your father has no motive?” The man asked.
“Obviously,” I responded dryly.
“That’s okay. Now, you said that there was no way someone else could have been in the house, but employee records say that your a father was not at work that day. Is there anywhere else he could have been?” I can feel heat rising to my cheeks. This is the part where my story and his diverge. He says that he was at a friends house. A girl friend.
“He was at a woman named Clarissa’s house. She’s already confirmed this.”
“Any idea why he was there? I know you’re a smart boy Forest.” I knew what he was doing. I knew he was unfaithful scum. I nodded. “And now we see that your father did have a motive.”
“That doesn’t mean anything! If he had wanted my mother out of the way he could have divorced her. Don’t you think I want my father gone? Don’t you think I wish he were the one dead, instead of my mother? That we could all live without the heartbreak he caused? Of course I did. But now I can’t want that because without him I would die too!”
“Calm down Forest,” the man said quietly. His voice infuriated me. “We understand that you’re mad at your father and that your scared of what’ll happen if he gets sent to prison, but we’re all here to help you. No matter what happens we will help you get through this.” I want to calm down, I really do. But I meant what I said. If everything had gone well I would still have my mother. He deserved it. He didn’t realize how much pain he was causing my mother when he left her. Or worse, he didn’t care. If he had been there to eat dinner with us than he would have had the poisoned dish and my mother would still be here. Yes, I poisoned my mother. I stole the poison from my fathers bag and poured just enough, based on the notes he left on his unlocked phone, to kill him. But he left us and inadvertently caused her death. I knew that I was a suspect, and I knew that another team of lawyers was spending hours compiling evidence against me. But I also knew they would fail. I left just enough clues for my father to be guilty and me to be the poor young boy who lost both of his parents in the span of two months. What I didn’t know was if I could live with the guilt. Could I stay sane in the world knowing my mother was dead because of me? Could I stay sane knowing that my father was in prison because of me? Could I stay sane knowing that I lied to let an unstable murderer go free? What damage could I do if no one stopped me? Could I kill more people? Would I get addicted to death like other people get addicted to drugs? Or would I get caught eventually anyway and end up in prison with my father? How could I be sure unless I was safely behind bars where I belonged? Let’s face it, I was definitely unhinged for a sixteen year old. I knew what I had to do before he even asked the question.
“I did it,” I said. I really hope he believes me.
P.S: This one is finished, obvously.
(My reply is pretty late, but blame my timezone.)
This is good, I really like it. Things get established and revealed at a good pace, then boom, the narrative twist! It did make me think that I should have seen it coming a bit sooner, but hey, guess I just wasn't expecting it. A strong ending too, with repetition and questions used well. Also the finish, feels pretty final despite being somewhat open regarding if they will be believed or not (I say they will be, but hey, who knows). Regardless, I say it is a strong finish, and the whole work fits together well.
Overall, quality writing and short story. I'm no English teacher, but I didn't notice the 1% grammar error, so that's good as it thus couldn't detract from the story, aha. Seeing a complete work (regardless of length) always gives me more hope for someone being able to complete a storygame, as it tends to show they know how to end a story, which will be necessary at some stage for all storygames (assuming they want to be finished).
As such, best of luck with writing (and other) endeavours!