I feel the same as you. I originally searched up this site for the purpose of reading CYOAs, not writing them, and I never thought I would. However, I was forced to join a contest against my free will, and it was actually sort of fun. Now I do write a few CYOAs from time to time aside from normal stories, but I haven't posted them here.
Speaking of, Abge and I recently unpublished Graveyard of Empires to fix all the grammar errors while I was on a road trip with her and her dad, but after about three hours we stopped and never came back to it. I should probably get back to doing that.
I'm the co-author, but it also could have just been Abge unpublishing it before she realized that you could edit it already. She hasn't been on the site forums in a while, so she wouldn't have known anyway.
Off the top of my head...
Mizal might have stayed over on the Interfic forums and talked there more until the CoG take over of the place, then she might have just hung out on Adrift more I suppose. She probably would have still bumped into Nightwatch since I think she knew him from yet another IF forum.
Bill, Ogre, and Will were writing independently of IF stuff. So while that would have been the case, dunno if they would have taken as much of an extended interest in IF.
Gower would have just been at CoG still.
Kiel would have just groomed kids on CoG where such degeneracy flourishes.
Seth would have fit in at CoG even better. Beg for money via Patreon for his "surgery" and never actually finish the game he claimed he was working on. Might have some competition when Meltdown starts begging for her laptop money though.
I know he isn't as well known (Though he's been a little more visible lately) but urnam0 is actually one of the few IS people that wandered over here. His Warlord story was written over there first, so he'd probably at least write that and then maybe just lurk there from time to time.
Cat2002116 is another OG ISer (Who's even less visible) that would have still wrote stuff there (She's never really gotten around to writing anything here though)
It's entirely possible that some of the people here might have still found their way to Infinite Story. PerforatedPenguin for example actually found IS before CYS. (He apparently tried to PM me there until he saw in my profife location I linked to this place.)
As for me, I probably would be insane enough to still post stories on IS. I might have probably just lurked around other writing forums, maybe even posting sometimes. I assume that Thara might have still PMed me eventually since she was on IS quietly reading my stories for years. (Some bonds are never broken)
Probably not, I would have written a web novel/web comic for fun instead. I actually discovered digital interactive fiction through Hosted Games (COG). At the time they were still publishing very small charming stories such as Burnt and "who killed me last night", but I lost interest after reading a couple of bland ones and one very very bad one. (Something something evil boarding school)
Then ehh, chooseyourstory was found while I was typing in "choose your own adventure game something something" on Google. I played pretty much the entire top 10 stories (distinctly remembered the innkeeper, the gladiator one, deadman walking, my vacation and mommy can I go out and kill tonight) and then I read three hundred thousand tears, somehow hated that story so much that I didn't bother to read anything at all for at least several years.
I'll finish up the projects I planned to do and figure out how to use another type of script. If I don't find it too cumbersome, I continue. Otherwise, I'll switch to something else.
The main thing that was holding me back is that I couldn't code and learning it seemed too daunting.
I like both.
I was writing interactive fiction before I knew there were ANY online communities surrounding it, so probably yes. But definitely a lot less. The stories I published on this site definitely wouldn't have happened without this community.
Probably not. I had a particular story idea that I thought well suited to CYOA, so I went looking for a site that would facilitate that so I didn't have to code up my own. If I hadn't found this one, I would have found one of the others but the the community there would not have held my interest long enough to finish the original idea. The community here is what encouraged me to go with a simpler story for my first one, and now I am in the cycle of avoiding SHAME in writing contests.
I think I would still write, just not interactive fiction. While I adore the genre, If I were to make something related to writing outside of an IF website I would want more pictures in it. So I would probably be making something like a visual novel. Writing is fun, but I've always been more into art.
I would have written linear fiction if it wasn't for CYS. Most of the writing techniques I learnt were from reading novels (hence the overly long stories haha), so I might have written for one of those cringe websites for teen writers when I was younger and maybe joined a writing community there if I found a suitable one.
Looking back, I'm super glad I found CYS when I did. That was the first time I wanted to publish my writing for an audience and doing this at the wrong place could have gone badly in so many ways.
In mystery detective novels, I like the long discussion ramble the detective does with the Watson near the end of the story. The anticipation always gets to me, how all puzzle pieces go together and then bam; the reveal of the murderer. It's even more fun when you are about 95 percent sure it was the man in the garden, but are still a bit iffy about that creepy little girl who showed us a secret passageway.
Having more info as the reader than the characters in the story is also lots of fun.
(A little aside, in horror movies, sound cues. The croaks in the Grudge still creep me out.)
Fighting between individuals. Especially when there are more pressing matters at hand.
I love using dramatic irony as a writer, but I hate it as a reader. One tactic I like to use is where you directly tell or show the reader what's going to happen, but they know nothing about how or why.
Adding time pressures, raising the stakes, forcing the protagonist to face their greatest fear (usually at the climax), and having another character whose goals directly opposes the protagonist.
When I don't know what to do, I just kill someone. Or threaten to kill them, that works too.
It's kinda bad that I don't remember any of the opening scenes of what I've written except the most recent one. It depends on the story you want to tell, but it's nice to give the readers a hook, something that piques their interest, could be anything. Something something, give them a taste for what's to come and the overall vibe bla bla.
All this Dostoevsky better not be influencing you, Petros!
I tend to start with a simple sentence that piques the reader's interest. Especially in my most recent stories, it would demonstrate the protagonist's inner conflict and foreshadow the overall theme.
Something I've recently noticed is that the second/ third line of my stories would be rather descriptive, to contrast the first.
Case study because I'm procrastinating curious:
Seems like I've been following some sort of pattern without realizing it all this while lol.
Slowly, painfully, and with reluctance.
Edit? What and ruin the purity?
For my actual stories (works less well with interactive stories) I typically outline the whole plot, then edit in details, then add more details, then connect everything, then smooth it all out more. Then, I force my friends to read it and tell me how to edit further
For stories on this site, I'm lucky if I just get them done. Editing is a nonentity
For my stories on this site, I wrote the first draft first, then went back and checked for spelling, grammar, and scripting errors. I didn't have the time or motivation to do thorough structural revisions.
Otherwise, I usually edit as part of my writing process. I use a lot of [brackets to block out phrasings I'm unsure about] and make in-text notes to myself on my rough drafts (like this).... I use dotted lines to skip ahead when I don't want to write something, and then come back and fill it in later.
It takes me several full revisions before I get a story in a format anyone else could read, but by the time I do, it's usually much more advanced than a typical rough draft, and the structure has also already gone through significant revisions. After that, I still need to do regular editing for typos and structural problems, but it's less intensive than it would be otherwise.
Sounds like my process is probably similar to what fresh does.
Similar, yeah. However, your summary sounded much more professional and cohesive than mine lol
By clicking the edit button on the top right of my posts.
Edit: See this, Peng? It wasn't here earlier.
Now you can't edit your post either!
Oh, I'm surprised I've just noticed that button. I'll save this useful information which I totally will not use the next time I join a contest and can't finish my storygame.
We've been given too much power.
Fuck. Here I was thinking it was site-wide
There have been a couple other small changes since I was last really on so I wasn't surprised
Surprised it doesn't drop some kind of "edited on" flag on the post.
I mean, I would be, if that was still a doable thing, which it no longer appears to be.
It depends on how unique your characters are. If ever single one is a bland cardboard cutout, then the max I'll remember is two- and those only if they're opposite genders! However, if they all have a very unique personality, style of talking, or anything that makes them stand out, the author can get away with a lot more. That being said, I try to stick with around five main characters, max. Less is usually more- less characters allows for more developed characters in my opinion.
An addendum to all that:
Sometimes more characters are necessary to make a story flow well or make any kind of sense. If you're in a full-manned vessel in outer space, your crew most likely consisted of more than two people, so more characters are needed. Now, how often these characters pop up and actually influence the story is still a matter of personal choice.
I did some research and according this website here, there are three crucial, necessary characters for every story: a protagonist, an antagonist, and at least one side character who has any kind of relationship with the protagonist to advance the plot and help establish the theme. In fact, every character is one of these things- but how many of each you have is totally up to you.
As a reader, I don't mind a big cast of characters. I read lots of web serials and most of them have very bloated casts. One thing I really dislike though is when lots of characters are introduced at once. (Blablabla of house blablabla, blabla of house blabla and whole rundown of even more names with little to distinguish them). I've seen GRR Martin do this and most of the time I gloss over these passages.
I don't like to write big casts that much. The maximum number so far is about 15 different characters. The reason why I'm not that fond of it is that I don't like to write group scenes where more than three people talk at once. I still struggle a little with it. One trick I did was to just keep all these 15 characters apart and tied to a location. Of course it's handy to give them unique personalities, motivations and appearances to distinguish them even more.
Another trick to increase the amount of characters while keeping things readable for your readers is to set these characters into separate groups or storylines. I often see this in web serials, but also in epic fantasy and big scifi series.
The Wandering Inn (longest written work of fiction in English) does this by having one unique storyline (later more) play out in each of the five distinct continents. Within one storyline you also have the cast split in different groups that have their own character arcs. For example:
In volume 4 you have within the main continent five groups; the people working in the inn, adventurer group number one; Horns of Hammerad , adventurer group number two; the halfseekers , adventurer group number three the Silver Swords, and adventurer group four; griffon hunt. It's about 25 people. It would be a huge task to remember all 25 names, but it's a lot easier for the brain if you can stick a label (and you only have to remember five of them) onto each of them. (Kinda like people do in daily life. Mike from work, family, Peter from the soccer team.)
Also make sure to give characters distinct roles. That also helps if you don't have a story with multiple POVs. What are they to the main character? Are they the antagonists, their friends, their colleagues, their family etc. (Another tip: you don't have to give every character a name. I once read a book series that often does this thing that the author often isn't bothered to give side characters names. These characters are just named by their title; Archduke of Klassenberg or the mother of blablabla. Somehow it makes the job of remembering these characters a lot easier, since their purpose and relation to the main character is spelled out all the time.)
Do not be afraid to make use of common character archetypes. (The snooty elf, the old mage, the annoying little sister etc.) They are there for a reason and can be used as an easy narrative shorthand. You can always flesh some characters out later in the story. The most important thing is that they leave some kind of first impression on the reader.
How I would tackle the fully manned vessel of Fresh. Have the crew in core teams with unique character dynamics and archetypes. (This is thought of on a whim). About 22.
(3) The captain and his team:
(3) migrant workers: also the scapegoats when the secret suitcase of the diplomat family gets stolen in the shop. They try to prove their innocence
(4) support crew: /actually spies from another country to spy on the diplomat family
(5) the mechanics
Family of diplomats that have to be escorted. (7)
Elections and campaigning. It's more common in sci-fi and, modern settings, not as much in fantasy. I always love this trope when I see it in fantasy stories.
Modern Olympic sports but with fantasy races and magic. I want to see goblins play baseball or have wizards do some ice magic to make the ice more slippery with curling.
A whole city built of the bones of its dead inhabitants. The whole area (which is a desert) is otherwise unliveable and unfertile without necromancy. To live there and be a citizen one must agree to donate their body to the city after they die.
Didn't you see? He's doing that TOMORROW ^_^
I might have mentioned it before, but I once planned for a 200k+ CYS-inspired story. I gave up halfway and never finished because my plans were spiraling out of control, too many new changes were happening on CYS all at once, and I was worried about people being offended by their portrayal.
It’s a cave-of-time space fantasy, which includes:
More overambitious plans:
I managed to put around 60k words into writing so it isn’t exactly unwritten, but I’ve been placing this project on hold indefinitely. Might as well put this idea here for your entertainment haha.
This would actually be so cool
Glad you think so haha. I was planning for it to be my magnum opus on the site, until I realized it wasn't feasible.
Might as well answer this one.
One thing in particular I have always had an idea for but just never implemented in several stories is the idea of an ongoing rival. Basically a character that keeps popping up throughout until towards the end where it gets settled once and for all. (Or sooner depending on a branch)
Now in a few stories you might see some bits of where this was sort of planned, but for whatever reason I just never really continued with it consistently.
I think arguably the only one where it semi-happens is in Necromancer with Trelik who you are told is pretty jealous of your abilities, but other than the snide comments in the beginning with the Dark Order description and towards the end of the main path where he fucks around with time magic, he doesn't play much of a "rival" role.
Eternal was supposed to have at least one branch where you massacre some kid's family and he comes back as an adult like a bad ass to completely wreck your shit. It just never happened though. I had the beginnings of this set up a couple times in the story, but like I said, I never really followed up on it.
Again, I sort implemented it with Zana who was the last of the Felkan royal family that Klemto raises. Though again this wasn't really a rival so much as it was an "unknown antagonist". Even then it was twisted a bit since Zana didn't even experience the "life" that Francis had "taken away" from her. So she just made up her own mind that the life she never had would have been better than the life she had now.
Finally Rogues was definitely one where I really planned to have an ongoing rival, and that particular rival was going to be Klint from the beginning of the story. The idea was you'd keep bumping into him and his dislike of you was based on kicking his ass in the beginning.
However, that never happened and you murk Klint pretty much as your first choice in the story. Lol. From there, there's a few rivals you deal with based on various branches, but never that one that follows you from the beginning.
Funny enough, the original basis of Rogues which was the old Legend game also had this plan for Klint in that one to become your rival. Never happened in that one either. Klint was just doomed to be a very minor character to be dealt with at the start of the story it seems.
I plan the structure around the same time as the story. They kinda work in tandem. Most meaningful choices in a page are preplanned too and already in the main outline along with the endings. I do improvise with the flavor text and the less plotty parts like characterization or world building.
As for preventing the infinite sprawl; outline, outline, outline. If I'm really pressed for time and need to be strict what is included and what not, I'll highlight the main events and other things that NEED to happen for the story to make sense like some kind of to-do-list. Then just go write them one by one with no extra flourishes.
Nowadays I'm also mentally prepared that each story I write will probably be twice as big than originally planned. I'm therefore a little hesitant to jump into a big saga for this reason.
I do a very full and organized outline, with placeholder text, for the important choices, including all of the variables that are going to change based on the choices, and the various minor branches that stem off of those major choices.
Then I sit down to write and I almost immediately find myself ignoring the outline because I came up with something funnier, and then the whole thing ends up ten times longer than I originally thought.
It's not a very efficient system, but it works for me.
Outline of most of the main paths usually comes first then I usually just write a main path from beginning to end and backtrack to add the branching choices after that’s finished, usually working on the longer ones from beginning to end first.
As far as focusing stuff, it depends on the story’s situation.
Now of course a choice that ends up killing you resolves itself. However, sometimes it would be a little silly to kill you off ALL the time based on a particular choice (Or similar bad end like being trapped or something),
So in those cases I take the story itself into consideration and that particular main branch.
Probably one of the example based on a branch and one I actually used to get asked about a lot was Ground Zero, since there were more than a few endings where you just wander off into the wasteland to an unknown fate.
The focus here was based on the four main branches. So if you picked one of the shelter paths, the focus would be what you did in there. The story would effectively end prematurely if you ever left it for whatever reason. Did you live? Did you die? Well that’s up to your imagination because you left the boundaries of what that particular branch was focusing on.
Sometimes you might get a “mini-epilogue” saying what happened to you, but that was still it for the story itself.
Eternal took more of a general focus of the literal word. Eternal, immortality, establishing some sort of legacy to be remembered. All 13 epilogues are based on that, though only one actually leads to “immortality.” In the few cases where you don’t actually die, (Like wandering off into the desert with Brenda) you’ve effectively still “given up” so the focus ends along with the story.
Innkeeper and Rogues were the same way. As soon as you weren’t running the inn anymore, the focus of the story and the story itself were effectively over. You get one last bit with Eliza at best.
With Rogues, as soon as you weren’t really being a “rogue” anymore in the current time period, (Like settling down, being enslaved, going back in time, etc) the focus of the story was gone and it ended. Now Rogues does slightly waver a bit with the path where you become a vampire, but even then I bring it back to engaging in roguelike behavior one last time before wrapping up the path.
Nothing’s perfect and sometimes an interesting branch just has to be explored a bit more even if the focus gets away from the original purpose.
Similar to the other responses, I plan most of the important choices and branches before writing. Sometimes during the writing process, I’ll have an idea for a mini-path or new choice, and it’ll be added spontaneously. This is how the choice to leave the castle in Spell of Slumber became its own small branch.
As for writing, I tend to go chronologically since my stories are somewhat of a gauntlet style. When the branches split, I get the shorter ones out of the way first, so I can spend more time on the longer ones. This isn’t always the best tbh. It means falling behind on my schedule (and neglecting the main story) if I spend too long on side-branches. Working up to the choice usually happens naturally, although when I have too many one link pages, I add information links, seemingly meaningless choices with delayed consequences, or just flavor text.
My stories always sprawl out of focus. Everytime. Since my storygames are written for contests, I often sacrifice entire branches or subplots to meet the deadline. This is the reason behind the rushed last few chapters of Breaker, the one-page chapters at the end of In Moonlit Waters, and the kingdoms you can’t visit in Spell of Slumber.
But there are times when the opposite happens—I finish the main storyline earlier than expected, and because I want to make the most of my time, I add in new challenges/ subplots/ extra obstacles at the end. This is why there was suddenly a lot more branching at the end of Fall to Hopelessness, the random subplot at the end of Dreamtruder, and the frustrating time-based puzzle at the end of the Halloween game.
Honestly, anything cleverly worded, or even showing a little bit of effort. My standards are low
Just about anything, not that picky once I start. I often read the entire summary and several reviews before I delve into a new story. As for the stories on the site, I'll trudge through any schlock though they can make themselves more enticing just by writing a good synopsis.
The stereotypical advice I've always seen is to add internal conflict. But imo, anything that piques my curiosity and/or is well-written would be good enough for me.
Personally I believe the first line isn't as important as the first scene. The main mistakes that bore me are:
1. Nothing happens (e.g. 'boring' scenes like waking up, too much description which doesn't move the story forward, or solely an infodump/ worlbuilding explanation I was given no reason to care about)
2. It is confusing (e.g. too many story-specific terms that can't be easily contextually inferred, lots and lots of names being thrown around, technical terms that makes it seem like less of a story and more of an academic article)
3. There’s no suspension of disbelief (e.g. everyone acts illogically and out of character, the story doesn't follow its own rules, finding a new plothole in every paragraph)
I believe the best plot hooks immerse you in the story's setting and allows you to connect to the protagonist's goals and struggles.
How did this one get completely missed?
Anyway the only pacing I sort of take into account is infodumping.
A long time ago when I was writing Paradise Violated and going into more of the background lore I started to realize that it was taking up a significant part of the story and not actually related to the action/events that were currently going on.
So to solve that problem I started doing the "history/lore" links and put them as a closed loop "choice" that you could click on if you really wanted to read lore.
Also did this for things I wanted to add in a story, but the events weren't significant enough to warrant writing an entire passage with choices for them.
That's probably the main thing I take into consideration as far as pacing goes though. Just keeping the main story focused on the protagonist's actions/reactions and not getting side tracked with extra stuff that doesn't quite directly impact the story.
I do most of the pacing work while plotting out stories before I start serious drafting. While drafting, I'm typically trying to tell the story in as few words and scenes as possible, so I hear my stories tend to be pretty fast-paced. I can be kind of verbose, though, so when editing I often focus on tightening up my sentence structure.
Pacing is probably better the earlier you start thinking about it, because if you don't start until editing you're going to have to rework major parts of your story. If you've got a decent grip on it from the planning stages, you save yourself a lot of work later on.
This is in line with the advice Mizal mentioned, which I agree is some of the best writing advice I've ever heard: if you're bored, your reader is bored. I feel like that's the key to most pacing decisions: Make the each scene as interesting to you as possible, cut it if you can't, and the story will flow together without seeming to drag out.
Gay and DepressedER!!! is probably the most fun I've ever had with writing.
No, I don't think I can tell most of the time. Sometimes it's obvious at the end of stories that were made for contests around here...
I know this question is old, but I'm answering because:
1. These questions are fun, and I don't want them to go unanswered for two weeks in a row.
2. I love seeing my username in bolded letters :) (even if the whole username doesn't fit and all I see is "fresh_out_t...")
I think in amateur/unedited writing you can usually tell when the author was having a good time because those sections of the story are just better. They'll spend time making sure it's good, and the scene is more clear in their head. You can tell the author cared less about a scene if the spelling and sentence structure gets sloppy.
In professional writing you can only sometimes tell, since the whole book is usually edited pretty well. But I think there's usually a pretty high correlation with how much an author enjoys a scene and how much their readers enjoy it.
I've been having a blast with my current project of about a year. I decided at the beginning that I wouldn't write any scenes or plotlines I didn't really want to, and it's been a huge help in keeping my focus on the project. I've also enjoyed writing a screenplay, since it cuts out a lot of the writing mechanics that interest me less and gets straight to the plot.
What's the logline of your screenplay?
An airship pilot, an inventor, and a history professor must stop an evil corporation from seizing control of some newly uncovered powerful ancient technology.
Cool. Sounds like an Indiana Jones movie.
I feel like basic, ordinary places are underused in specifically the horror genre. For me, something terrifying happening in a place I go to every other week (like Walmart) will stick with me for much longer than the basic "man this house is creepy" type of setting
It is better
The Dutch countryside and the Afsluitdijk. I've only seen it a few times in movies and never that beautifully shot even though the sunsets there are very nice.
I also like scenes that take place in train stations. They are pretty versatile, great for horror movies, but also romcoms or as a way to depict the afterlife. I also like the design of many of the older ones.
I've been into spaceships and space stations lately. And archipegalos. Archipegalos have such great narrative potential to them (particularly in interactive open-world formats) and I almost never see them.
I'm also fond of ancient ruins. There's always lots of potential for storytelling there. More recent kinds of urban decay are great too--such as overgrown barns and sheds, or ivy breaking apart a concrete building, or a rusted tractor found deep in the woods. This specifically I feel has a lot of potential and is really underused. Futuristic ruins are also cool.