The Weekly Review – Edition 29
What is New Section giving the latest info on the Forums
The intriguing Article: Writing With Intent by Mizal
An Interview with the great site member Zaghero
A Review of Chocobot’s A Jung Hero’s Adventure by Mizal
This fantastic Short Story: A Dragon Comes Calling by Mizal
Finally, Special Section: Funniest True Book Titles by Will11
What is New
In Newbie Central StrykerL, Gawain, HappyPills, ShadowNinjas and Sam316 introduce their awesome selves to the site!
In the Lounge Points Daddy EndMaster continues to improve the site with the help of Agstand, TharaApples, temporaryaccount, Bannerlord, Crescentstar, Naomi14, Matthias, MinnieKing, Seto, Betaband, Malkalack, Yuisawachelsa and possibly others.
In News and Updates JJJ-thebanisher unleashes some fantastic changes to transform the site into something event better.
In the Parlour Room Briar_Rose’s Interesting Comments thread remains as popular and interesting as ever.
In the new Creative Corner Betaband triggers a lively poetry competition with many great entries.
In the Writing Workshop SonicTurbo Turtle in his new form as Lactose continues working resolutely on the story he is creating.
In the Reading Corner people really need to start discussing the books they are currently reading.
In the Advanced Editor’s Forum Naomi14 receives help from Malkalack on link restrictions.
In the Bugs and Problems section BerkaZerka helps CrazyCat with some Item linking.
Article: Writing With Intent
CYOAs are a mess.
Writing a coherent story with even just one single, linear plot is something most site members would struggle with, and yet here on CYS, masses of awful, awful, mentally inferior, genetically impure children are allowed, even encouraged, to wander directionless into the wilderness of a thousand branching paths.
A story is a setting, characters, conflict and resolution, all laid out in a purposeful, meaningful way, ideas and events communicated clearly to form a whole greater than its parts. One event leads to another, which leads to another using the most basic logic of cause and effect. This is something famed writing guru Axiom has explained, on those rare occasions she deigns impart wisdom to the masses: a good plot is not structured as ‘this happened and this happened and then THIS happened, whoa isn’t that cool and unexpected! One might even say, random!’ it’s ‘This happened, and THEREFORE this happened, which led to THIS.’ Every paragraph, every sentence that survives to the final draft is included with intent and to serve a purpose, and none can be taken away without weakening the whole. From any angle a story is examined from, it should all hold together under scrutiny.
A meaningful story often has an underlying message the author is trying to get across. (The reader should NOT be bashed over the head with it. That way lies propaganda and ham-fisted moralizing. And that’s terrible.) Think of a recurring theme or the attitude or actions of the characters that the author’s created universe consistently validates or denies. Like the structural elements of a building, these will go unnoticed by most, but they’re no less important to holding up the roof.
Of course it’s possible to write a story that’s reasonably entertaining and enjoyable without giving any of the above serious thought, but these tend to show their sloppy edges and crooked seams on an in depth reading. Often, something just gets lost between the author’s intent and what they actually write. On more than one occasion I’ve seen authors describe what they’re trying to do with their story as one thing, while the tone, wording, or even actual events simply don’t hold up to it. If the simple laying out of causes and effects can clearly show the central conflict is caused not by the villain’s actions, but the protagonist’s, the story should acknowledge that. If the protagonist is meant to be sympathetic or traditionally heroic, but their behavior is that of a callous and unpleasant dick, a little sense of awareness on the part of the writer goes a long way.
Now obviously a CYOA contains multiple plotlines where many things, including themes or purpose, can change based on the reader’s choices, but major paths are generally still meant to hold up as stories in their own right. A way of holding plots together logically and thematically is by keeping events and responses to them consistent. For instance if a player repeatedly picks the most violent choices, the path the character winds up on and who they are could change to reflect that. Opportunities, obstacles, or consequences would be presented to them that aren’t available to someone taking a more diplomatic route, and vice versa.
CYOAs, like interactive fiction, are a balancing act between telling a story your way and providing the player with a convincing illusion of meaningful choice. Let’s say you decide the underlying theme of one path is ‘Patience is a virtue’, while another is ‘Fortune favors the bold’. The fork in the branch could come at the player’s choice early on, and from there the game subtly rewards the character being played with a consistent personality. Additionally, try to keep aware that things like having the character make major decisions without a choice being involved can be off putting to a reader, especially if it goes against the personality they’ve been crafting. A character that’s so far taken all the most peaceful, non confrontational choices casually offing someone, for instance, without the player having a say.
Transferring your ideas through your fingers to the screen without having them lose clarity or purpose can be difficult, but communicating ideas is the most fundamental element of writing. Pay attention to what you’re saying and why. And just as a final tip, outlining the main events and branching points of your paths is always a useful tool that will save you time and trouble down the line. An outline allows to view the planned story from a distance and correct any potential snags or issues before you get bogged down and distracted by details and lose sight of the forest among all the trees.
Interview: Introducing Zaghero!
1: How did you first find this site and what made you want to join?
I had recently begun to re-read a choose-your-own-adventure book I had at home, and wondered if any free ones were online. So, I entered choose your own adventure into the Google search bar, and discovered this gem of a site.
2: As a relatively new member of the site how have you find it?
What do I think of the site? I've been here for almost two years, and while I am sad that the forum games are gone, I am eager to see what else will come out of this grand place.
I really do think of this site as my home, and hope others will come to know it as that as well.
3: What are your favorite aspects or members of the site?
I enjoy the community as a whole, and am excited to know that work is being done on the more technical aspects of this place. The entire environment is something that I can't find anywhere else, and the stories are top notch.
I have a list of favorite members I look up to, or enjoy being around.
@Jamescoker - He was one of the first people to reach out to me, and was someone I enjoyed talking to.
@BradinDvorak - Is often willing to help, and I applaud him for that.
@ISentinelPenguinI - I enjoy his positive presence on the forums, even though his spiels may be unusual I find him highly humorous.
@Ford - The Archfiend of Alts himself, has sparked my interest in alts and tends to work a laugh out of me.
@TharaApples - She was a dedicated player in my games, and can be found scrambling to help in site maintenance.
@EndMaster - our newly crowned mod, and talented author, his dark humor is something valuable to me.
@Steve24833 - Is a necessary evil and an accomplished author here.
I could go on forever, and I value all of the members here on CYS.
4: What are your least favorite aspects of the site?
Haha, I can't complain much. I just wished the game threads were archived instead of outright deleted. WC and most trolls are gone, so that's good.
5: How do you feel about the new site changes?
I understand why the Forum Games needed to go, and I'm glad to have the Creative Corner. But, a part of me is sad towards the loss of the forum. Though I did lose a lot of the things I put effort and time into, I am willing and ready to move on and contribute in other ways.
6: What changes would you like to see implemented?
An IP ban would be nice to rid of pesky returning nuisances, I wish you could mass PM, a few of the mods said the ability to merge threads would be beneficial as well. I'm sure the important things will be taken care of.
7: Do you have any plans to write a story-game in the future?
Yes. Many. I want to expand the worlds my players and I forged and weave a compelling story. I especially want to establish my own super-hero series, as I have two games in the works.
8: How do you see your role on the site in future?
I see myself as becoming an important contributor to the site, with writing and helping others. I hope to be known as a friendly and caring member who was willing to help to the best of their ability, with a couple of quality stories under his belt.
9: Any funny stories to relate?
A few. Most of them are mischievous, and involve alts. The Mason-Kiel alt war was a memorable one. It was a silly scuffle in which one side tried to outdo the other in a race to create and argue with obscure versions of our patron member. My favorite alt in that was Kneel_Farren, a dedicated and spiritual warrior eager to lead his brothers to victory.
But, the thread was deleted and alts banned.
10: Finally, any last words, possibly to new site members?
To all you new members out there, work hard in your endeavors, and keep going when you get stuck.
Be the person that this website needs.
Review: Chocobot’s Edutainment Story A Jung Hero’s Adventure (2004) by Mizal
A Jung Hero’s Adventure has been removed from its top Edutainment spot, so let’s have a moment to remember it. A ancient and venerable story from 12 freaking years ago, it’s truly from another era. Written by equally ancient founding CYS member chocobot, it explores a strange and fascinating dystopian setting where humans within an AI controlled city are pampered and looked after by a computer that knows what’s best for them, and unhappiness or any sort of serious thought or reflection that might lead to unhappiness is taboo.
It also, as you may have guessed from the title, goes into detail on Jungian archetypes. Each ‘chapter’ provides an optional page of notes explaining characters and events and their roles, and the authors reasoning or inspiration for each one. It makes for an appreciation of the story on a deeper level, knowing the thought and care that went into plotting it out.
The writing itself, alas, suffers from a number of technical errors, likely a factor in it being replaced. What must’ve been fine in 2004 is honestly pretty unacceptable in 2017. It’s more like a rough draft than a complete story, and in many places was obviously rushed. A couple of the notes contain lines like ‘I’ll add more here later’ and a few scenes read like a short summary of events, instead of actually depicting them. It’s fairly linear as well, with dead ends in place of branch points. Line breaks are almost non existent, but most problematic are the punctuation, spelling and grammar, which are just painful and distracting. Enough so that it completely repelled me when I originally attempted to read the story, some time ago. Although having now persevered, I’d still have to say it’s recommended reading just for how unusual and interesting it is.
It really is a shame that this story will be unlikely to ever see the thorough proofreading and expansion it deserves.
Short Story: A Dragon Comes Calling by Mizal
Elysia could tell it was going to be a bad morning, right about the time the dragon landed in the courtyard.
As a paladin she was well used to waking at dawn, but not to sort through official reports, complaints, requests...all brought to the palace by courier overnight and all needing her personal attention. Yet this was her duty now as Princess Regent. Then there was the constant strain of managing administrators, guards, ambassadors, and ‘specialists’ about the place. Those last mainly made up of highly skilled adventures, and even former criminals, allegedly reformed. Such a mix unavoidably led to personality clash, and one in particular never failed to give her a headache. How her father could bear to put up with this day after day she never understood, but it certainly made it more understandable that he’d flown off to...wherever he’d gone.
At least Brook was still here. Her long time companion looked like an elven scholar straight from a painting as he bent over a parchment with a quill pen and glass of wine, pale golden locks falling over his fine-boned features. Knowing how tedious she found the work, he awoke at the same hour to help sort what was most relevant from that which could wait.
“The Duchess of Gavindale sends her regards,” he noted, pushing the letter aside and reaching into a box for a heavy gold panel necklace set with rubies.
Elysia gaped at it. “That is appalling.”
“Isn’t it though?” the elf chuckled. “Just a bit ostentatious, yes. I confess I can’t imagine you ever wearing such a thing.” He peered at her over the offending piece of jewelry as if imagining it next to the simple embroidery of her sky blue tunic and the turquoise hairpin holding her silvery-white curls in place. “I suppose blue is more your color.”
“I’m serious, that thing must weigh twice as much as my cuirass, and it’s ten times as gaudy.”
He set it down with a slight grin. “Well, you’ll need to write her a short letter of thanks anyhow, and then I suppose you can always—”
“Oh. Hold on.” The paladin held up a hand to pause the conversation, frowning at another letter. “Sounds like we have the reason for all the orcish activity in Balingholt. Ostemar is back and up to his old tricks again.” She spat out the wizard’s name, jaw tensing.
And bloody orcs again. You know, she tried to be open-minded and fair about these things, but maybe all the unfortunate stereotypes wouldn’t exist in the first place if they wouldn’t always be so eager to go and immediately form a horde and take to raiding on behalf of absolutely anyone with a pointy hat and a grudge.
It sounded like the militia and her rangers there had things more or less under control, but this might be a good excuse to saddle up and--
Brook plucked the parchment from her hand. “Oh dear. Him again? How many times have you killed him, now?” He pondered a moment. “But Balingholt is well protected. Still, this says they’re unsure of the exact number of elves, so perhaps sending more soldiers would be wise.”
“Ah. Actually, I was thinking I might--”
“I’m sure the rangers can do their job there, while you do yours here, Princess,” he cut in, both interrupting and anticipating her chain of thought, and putting special emphasis on the almost never used royal title.
She knew he was right, but her expression turned sour. “There’s no harm in getting away from here a few days. I’ve defeated Ostemar before, and if Balingholt is overrun--”
“You know your father wanted you to stay put here, to deal with emergencies.”
Elysia waved a hand disdainfully at the stacks of letters. “A bunch of useless flattery and whining, and a pile of ridiculous demands for...for...gold-plated chamberpots and what have you, I’m sure. The palace is secure. When’s the last time we had an actual emergency here?”
At that moment there came panicked shouting and the sound of running feet, and a handful of servants burst in just ahead of the guards. “--a dragon! Your Ladyship, there’s a dragon at the west wall!”
Elysia winced as the nervous servant pinched her with the piece of armor she was hurriedly buckling on, then waved off the girl’s stammered apologies. Her attention, like everyone else’s, was focused on the mansion-sized, glittering green reptile in the western courtyard. It--she--had broken a hole in the wall with her landing, and smashed the landscaping to pieces, but so far at least seemed willing to hold off on an outright attack. An angry lash of the beast’s tail sliced in half an entire row of expertly sculpted hedges, but otherwise the two wizards outside questioning her seemed to be doing a commendable job keeping her calm. The armor—and of course, the sword—Elysia hoped wouldn’t even be necessary, though of course it was sensible to be prepared.
“What’s she saying?” she asked, with a glance at Brook. Elves tended to be at least passable at understanding Dragontongue, a complex language it could take wizards and scholars decades to learn. Though it was likely the creature could understand Common very well, the conversation was going on in its native language, as a matter of respect and another means of (hopefully!) keeping things civilized and calm.
The elf tilted his head toward the window and listened to the low rumbled words. “Er, something about...she was robbed? Oh dear.”
Elysia inwardly groaned. Yes, that would do it. That’d be just the thing to get an angry dragon on someone’s doorstep.
“She says a goblet was taken while she slept.”
Elysia’s brow creased as she mulled that over. “Taken by someone here? Where was this?”
The elf paused and listened a few moments longer. “Hmm. Forgotten cairns? No, Lostbarrow. Lostbarrow Mountains.” He paused with a lingering frown and exchanged a glance with her. “Isn’t that where--”
The paladin slammed a gauntleted hand down on the table, hard enough to rattle the dishes and make the serving girl jump with a little squeak. She turned to one of the guards. “Bring me Kecheri.”
He let out a low whistle and nodded, and a moment later the orders were passed along. “The Lady wants the thief.”
“You summoned me, Paladin? I came as soon as I heard.” The thin, black-haired woman had darted in and given a breathless bow just ahead of a pair of annoyed guards. One of them held a rope, knotted into a sort of harness.
“She was trying to scale the east wall behind the stables and slip away, Your Highness,” the other guard informed her.
“Uh. That’s nonsense!” Kecheri protested, with a vehement shake of her head. “I was asleep in the stables, and then I heard all the ruckus so I um, climbed up on the roof to see what it was all about...“
Elysia crossed her arms and regarded her. “Why were you asleep in the stable?”
The other woman tilted her head and regarded her with quick, dark eyes. “Why shouldn’t I sleep in the stable?”
“All right, then what about the rope?” the paladin asked, indicating the guard that held it.
Kecheri wrinkled her nose. “What [i]about[/i] the rope? Gosh. Do I pry into every detail of your personal life?”
This was their little ritual. The thief liked to lie, and the paladin would usually give her time to work it out of her system. Sometimes the results were amusing. But today there were rather more pressing matters. And Elysia was not in the mood.
“Did you know there’s a dragon in your courtyard?” the other woman asked lightly, nodding toward the window.
The paladin’s lips tightened. “Yes. About that.” Her tone was flat and unamused now. Kecheri blanched and took just the tiniest of steps backward, but the guards were blocking the doorway, polearms crossed. They were rather familiar with the thief’s habits as well.
“A couple of months you were in the Lostbarrow Mountains, correct?”
“Ah...yes? You had me scouting for a new pass, and I found one. I--”
“Did you find a dragon’s den as well?”
Kecheri paused as if she had to mull that one over. “Well, I can’t say I remember for suuure unless I were to look at the report, but I’d say, ah...”
Elysia’s fixed her with a hard stare, her voice becoming a few degrees chillier. “I’d think. That would be something you’d recall.”
The thief’s gaze fell, and she glanced out the window with a little shrug and a sigh. “Okay, okay. So I picked up a pretty little jade cup as a souvenir. And you know, I thought I was having a lot of restraint? It had plenty of treasure. Didn’t think it’d even notice it gone, let alone be able to follow me back here. It was sound asleep, and I mean--”
Brook buried his face in one slender hand and groaned. “You have obviously never had dealings with a dragon before.”
“Well, no, but--”
“All right. Shut up.” Elysia turned to a third guard nearby. “Go get this stolen cup.” Eyes flicking back to the other woman. “It’s in your quarters?”
Kecheri nodded and reluctantly gave the guard instructions for locating and opening a hidden panel behind a shelf. Elysia had no doubt there’d be a few other questionable items stashed there, but at the moment only the bit claimed by the dragon mattered.
She spent a few moments watching the dragon in pensive silence, then turned and picked up a cloak from a pile of hastily gathered bits of armor, garments, and amulets. She shoved it at the thief, a little harder than necessary. “Put it on.”
“What’s this? Oh...hey, it’s kinda nice,” Kecheri said with an admiring expression, running her thumb over the deep wine red fabric and the gold-edged clasp, a tiny shield emblazoned with a stylized dragon.
“Enchanted against dragonfire. Now, the dragon’s teeth, you’ll have to avoid on your own.”
The dark-haired woman froze midway through laying the cloak across her shoulders. “Um. You’re making me go out there?”
Elysia smiled, a bit unpleasantly. “Well, that’s your guest out there, isn’t it? It’s only polite, when it came such a long way to meet you.”
TO BE CONTINUED
Special Section: Funniest True Book Titles
After recently coming across the wonderfully titled pirated hybrid Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings (not as bizarre as the Chinese translation of the Hannibal Lector classic Silence of the Lambs as The Quiet Sheep, which I saw in Beijing) I was wondering what were the funniest titles of real published books. The following are, allegedly, all officially published books with hilarious titles:
The Missionary Position (Mother Teresa in theory and practice) by Christopher Hitchens
Goodbye Testicles (a children’s book) by Anne Guy
Games you can play with your pussy (and lots of other stuff cat owners should know) by an unknown author
Am I ready for chest hair (for every homosexual there comes a time when he must face one of the most important questions in his life) by Bradford Shellhammer
Still stripping after 25 years (Make a Quilt in a day) by Eleanor Burns
How to succeed in business without a penis (secrets and strategies for the working woman) by Karen Salmansohn
Alone in the woods with Scoutmaster Mike by an unknown author
The Magical World of Rectal Probes by Dr Dick Likken
Reusing Old Graves by Shaw & Son
The Beginner’s Guide to Sex in the Afterlife by an unknown author
The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories by Alisa Surkis
How to Raise your IQ by Eating Gifted Children by Lewis Burke Frumkes
Pooh gets Stuck (A Winnie the Pooh First Reader Story) by Isabel Gaines
Scouts in Bondage (a children’s adventure story) by Geoffrey Prout
Mummy Drinks because you’re Bad, a Quality Religious Books Story
Eating People is Wrong by Malcolm Bradbury
Are Women Human (and other international dialogues) by Catherine MacKinnon
Everything I know about women I learned from my tractor by Roger Welsch
A Passion for Donkeys by Dr Elsabeth Svedsen
If you are interested in checking out these allegedly true book titles and more complete with their book covers (some like the How to make money in your spare time by 673126 are only funny with the picture) check out this site: https://digitalsynopsis.com/buzz/worst-funniest-book-titles-covers/
As Always, Thank You for taking the time to read this Review.
Another amazing review :)
Great job to everyone involved that keeps these things running consistently.
"A necessary evil"? That is most definitely a profile quote. Anyway, huzzah for the return of the review's true heir, glad to read it, Will.
Aw yeah, got mentioned.
And alas poor Steve, your reign was truly remarkable.
I was mentioned, I finally hit the big time
I'll be honest: I have no idea what RTE is :)
How do I get rid of it?
You don't, because then you have to insert HTML tags into the text box. Ford is a stinkyhead don't listen to him
Fixed the html tags.
I hope it's not a complicated process for you guys or you're all going to hate it before long. :P
It's not, but I was just wondering if I should, since these Weekly Reviews are collaborative efforts. I mean you wrote a review and a pretty sizable short story and Will would be getting all the glory.
Glad you're back Will. Great review.
Damn, these reviews are awesome! :D
Alright, first sanction. (From me anyway)
Will gets all the glory and Mizal only gets a whip to her back for her efforts.
I can live with it if he can. Lol.
I really like mizal's article (and her other contributions). This edition is great.
Yeah. I second that ^-^ mizal's article is very informative *nods*
Sometimes, silly as the titles may seem, weird books like this are actually extremely helpful.
Woah. Why did I click that. Fuckin hell >-<