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General Advice?

6 months ago
Hey y'all ^_^

I'm new to the site, and just started working on my first storygame. I've read through the tutorial threads, but I was wondering if you guys had any advice for a new author that I may not have thought of. Thanks in advance!

General Advice?

6 months ago
Show, don't tell.

Write in the active voice.

Use proper grammar and spelling.

Plan your story out before you start writing.

Consider time and word-count goals and limitations when developing scope.

General Advice?

6 months ago
Thanks for all those great points!

Could you elaborate a bit on "Consider time and word-count goals and limitations when developing scope." ? I understand the basics of what it means, but as I've never written a storygame before, I'm not entirely certain what sort of time or word-count goals I should be shooting for. I know about the 1-8 ranking system, but what length or word count would qualify as "too short" or "too long?"

General Advice?

6 months ago
Commended by EndMaster on 2/15/2018 5:04:52 PM

There's no such thing as too long for a good storygame. It's pretty hard to make a good one though with under ~4k words (normally). Writing also takes a bit longer due to organizing a branching story together. That's not even considering the use of scripting.

Storygames are really deceptive to write. Let's say you have a plot that should take 5k words to finsih. It'd normally be a short story, but as a storygame you decide to have three branches. Now, the "short" story has turned into 15k words (5kx3). A small work can easily multiply into something gargantuan before it is even written. Oh, let's say there's wrong choices in you story as well leading to a quick ending along the 3 5k paths. It could add 2k each which puts your story to 21k words.

This is also why you'll see very few more traditional storygames. Some examples of this approximate style includes basically anything by End Master and Dead Man Walking. End Master's Eternal and Dead Man Walking also happen to be the two highest rated games of the site and at 632k and 1,083k words respectively.

Nonetheless, there are other styles! Hurray! We have a whole bunch of them. You'll see them all after reading enough storygames, but this article has it all and does a really good job explaining them.

So, what does all of this mean for me? You basically just did an info dump.

Good question. One of the most common thing you'll see on storygames' comments beyond the generic is "It was too linear" or "I liked the choices". No matter what style you have, don't make it blatantly linear. Generally, anything beyond two pages with just a single link starts edging into a "this section was linear" category. You'll need something. It could be a brand new branch, a wrong "bad end" choice, or simply one that applies an illusion of choice. (The illusion of choice is basically having two links to two different pages that link to the same page instead of truly branching.)

Cool, um, what should I shoot for with my word count?

With new members, we generally tell them to start small. Get used to this different form of writing before tackling it. One member (who has been around for years but never published anything) recently did this. It's a good example of a first storygame. It has its flaws which are noted in the comments. Most notably is probably its length at 2,637 words, but it still received 4.83 rating. Also, you'll receive more grace on your first storygame. People will give you advice and such, but we also hope you'll try to improve.

If you want to test out sections from your work before it's published, we have the Writing Workshop for that reason. If you want it all tested, ask for a beta-reader (who you'd send the storygame's link to and he/she would read it and give you their thoughts).

I didn't intend to be so long, but I suppose I became carried away. :)

General Advice?

6 months ago
Thank you so much! I'll definitely keep this in mind while I'm planning things out.

General Advice?

6 months ago

For comparison, the King James Bible has 783k words.

 

General Advice?

6 months ago

I'm glad you posted the link to the styles article; I'd never seen it before and it's an interesting read.

(Also, at least you were thorough in your getting carried away-ness.)

General Advice?

6 months ago
I appreciated that as well ^_^

General Advice?

6 months ago
Commended by EndMaster on 2/15/2018 5:05:04 PM
Everything WIBN said (I keep getting beaten to these...) but Bucky was probably also referring to the common issue of new authors promising the moon and swearing they're going to write The Best and Most Epic Story Ever and then vanishing into the aether or giving up and pushing out something unfinished once they get like four pages in and realize how much actual work is involved.

Lots of people coming into this don't even seem to have any experience writing short stories, or else massively overestimate their abilities. Even excellent natural talent when it comes to first chapters or disconnected blurbs doesn't translate to much of anything meaningful when it comes to having the discipline to make something complete with a cohesive beginning, middle, and end...and that's when dealing with one story. As WIBN pointed out, CYOAs can easily get away from you and if you don't know how to structure them you can wind up with an exponentially increasing number of stories on your plate. There's a certain skill in itself in figuring out how to prune the branches in a natural way without hacking the whole story apart with a chainsaw.

Planning and outlining is hugely important, the more detailed the better, and you can do it all before you even begin. It saves you tons of time with the actual writing as well as making sure you don't trip on any plot holes or forget anything important two thirds of the way in. If you decide you're going to take a month to write a story, then you can look at your average daily word count (consistency is important here...if not, RIP, welcome to my personal hell), figure out a rough idea of how many pages your outline indicates each major path will be, look at how many words on average you'll be putting on each page, and work out with reasonable accuracy how long the story will take.

If it looks way more ambitious than what you reasonably want to shoot for, you have the option of scaling your plot back to something that fits, and this is all before you do any actual serious writing. (It gets MUCH harder to abandon or rework an idea once you've already taken the time to write out a bunch of scenes, and the result may be, at best, you forcing yourself through a story you know is flawed and aren't enjoying.)

Well...I need to cut this short but suffice to say there's basically this whole dimension of effective plots and structure and themes that even the more prolific writers rarely seem to think about or touch on. Generally speaking though if you're competent with the English language and can string a few scenes together with some kind of internal logic and discernible cause and effect, you're good enough for the internet and especially CYS, lol. I don't foresee you having any problems doing well here unless you turn out to be a chronic procrastinator like...other people...sometimes are. >.>

As for what makes a story too short or too long...2.5k-5k is usually about what I'd consider the minimum for a CYOA, what with the branching you need and to also assume more than two sentences per page. But longer doesn't equal better, because padding out a short and sweet story with useless filler to meet some arbitrary word count doesn't do it any favors either. My stance has always been that a story should be exactly as long as it needs to be.

General Advice?

6 months ago

It's also important to recognize that different styles and genres of stories work better with different styles of game.  I can't speak for anyone but myself, but I find that when I'm reading a puzzle game, I don't want a lot of 'empty' description and I prefer shorter pages.  When I'm playing a game that is entirely (or almost entirely) story, then I want much longer pages and more filled in details.

Also, you have to determine which way of doing paths works best for you.  My first game here I tried to finish up all the 'side' and 'short' endings first.  By the time I was done those, I had run out of time for the contest I was in and only ended up with 2 major endings when I had initially planned for 4-6.  This time through, I'm trying to write a single 'main' path to its conclusion and then I'll go back and flesh out the rest.  Without being in a contest, this might not be important, since you can bounce around all you like, but if you're the kind of person who needs to focus on one thing at a time, then it's good to know that about yourself.

General Advice?

6 months ago
Thank you for the recommendation. I tend to be long-winded and very detailed in my storywriting (which I realize can be a flaw in many scenarios.) I'm likely going to plan out the major endings first, although my current map simply begins with the first decision and outlines possible branches from there. I tend to bounce from thing to thing like a jumping bean on steroids, but I am trying to become more diciplined in my writing.

General Advice?

6 months ago

I tend to be the same way.  Which is probably why I rarely finish anything.

General Advice?

6 months ago
@Endmaster Move this to Writing Workshop?

General Advice?

6 months ago
Good luck with your story! By reading the tutorials you're likely far, far ahead of most people who try writing here!

General Advice?

6 months ago
It's going to be so embarrassing for Ford when you publish a story before he does.

General Advice?

6 months ago

Some advice I'd give you:

Don't do short 3k stories and say they're part of a "series" as those rarely go anywhere.

Include a nice amount of options as appropriate for the story.  Try to avoid false choices (such as options that force you to eventually select one of the options to propel the story, and don't kill the character every other choice).

Take your time, add nice but not over the top descriptions.  Sprinkle in a good amount of character development and personality.  

Most of all, just keep writing.  It may take a while to publish a good quality story but it will certainly stand out from all the crap smears the lesser writers have left behind.

 

General Advice?

6 months ago

"Don't do short 3k stories and say they're part of a "series" as those rarely go anywhere."

This x10!

The rest of the advice is also good, but nobody likes a small teaser of something bigger/better that never comes along.

General Advice?

6 months ago
Usually they're closer to the 1k the author was able to write in a single sitting before getting too bored with their own story to continue, but at the same time expecting the internet as a whole to be panting for a sequel.

General Advice?

6 months ago

General Advice?

6 months ago

Has anyone actually completed a hundred stories on here to get those odds? ;)