An alcoholic writer. His career going nowhere. The daughter of a business tycoon.
This story is dedicated to Jay in response to their constructive feedback left on Unbroken
. Thank you, truly, for being the inspiration behind the title. Enjoy.
Strength of body, strength of will. Both are required. A man's freedom depends on his willingness to act, to rise against those who would place him in chains. Small choices add up, building towards differing outcomes. In the moment, one does not often know the implications of his actions. Inevitably, all is revealed.
There are several "cinematic" links in the story. You will have the option to view multiple events happening simultaneously. While not adding to the branching, they do offer deeper insight into the story.
Hello. It's me, Pitka ("Ninja" to my friends), your morality guide. Together, we will embark on a journey filled with lessons on life and ethical behavior, while having fun along the way, of course!
I've written a series of short fables for your benefit. Come, take my hand as we navigate through life's innermost difficulties.
Entry for Bucky's Year's End Contest
Thoughts appearing as fragments. A mind shattered. Broken. Weak. One of us.
Official endings will be titled "Epilogue." There are seven total to discover.
She offers everything a man could want. Sterling City, an unsteady lover, but a lover nonetheless, filled with gunfire, liberal women, and elevator dings!
One day her embrace is warm, and the next, it's the cold shoulder and couch for you, baby. Best to get out while the going's good.
Contest entry for IWT 13: The Resurrection
It's the 'burbs, baby. Wipe that city grime off on the door mat. You know what, why don't you just remove those filthy shoes entirely.
She's calm, collected, and safe. Sterling Suburbs, nothing like her erratic sister, filled with carpool lines, trick or treaters, and a steady supply of Budweiser.
Written for Mara's Halloween Writing Jam
A small-sized, suburb-dwelling Sterling City
A new day. The chance to move on. Weigh the options, then commit. Whether you choose right or wrong, the journey begins by taking a step forward.
The Hunter, a man marked by tragedy, plagued by the internal voice. His past appears as phantoms, seeking to claim his soul.
The Sorceress, places little value on the lives of men. Humanity is but an obstacle on her rise to power.
The Warrior, built by honor. Straightforward in battle, straightforward in thought.
The Rogue, unable to leave behind what isn't his. Some artifacts are best left as they are.
The Book, a tome of black magic. Ancient curses rest in its pages, longing to be read.
There are six official endings to discover, two of which have characters crossing over from Sheol's Passage and the Fallen
Entry for EndMaster's Edgelord Contest 2
The Providence of Kria consists of two major nations: The Kingdom of Brelia and the tribal territory of Rath. The ten-year peace between Brelia and Rath is quickly unraveling. In attempt to prevent another war, heir to the throne of Brelia, Prince Urijah, is sent on a diplomatic mission to appeal to the Rathans. In your older brother's absence, the burden of defending the kingdom falls to you. Your choices will determine the fate of the kingdom.
Runner-up for Corgi's Unofficial Contest: The Lords of the Land.
9/1/19 Update: Corrected a few punctuation errors
Taking place during the Golden Age of Piracy, assume command of The Sanguine as you plunder and search for treasure in the profitable Caribbean. In this swashbuckling fantasy, you embark on a dangerous quest to an ancient Aztec civilization. Peril lies behind every tree, stone, and indigenous spear.
The story adds fantasy elements to events occurring in the 1700s. There are many real life characters and places in the story. Many are factually accurate, and many are not. I highly encourage you to research the people, places, and deities after reading.
Entry for Gower's Battle in the Ruins of a Dead Civilization contest.
1852 - The Territory of New Mexico
The hunt has taken me to to the outer edges of civilization. Out here, lawlessness abides. There are no godly folk. Only heathen. The inner demon in me can relate to the call of anarchy. No rules, being bound by nothing; it sounds like freedom. In the end, that "freedom" is simply the self-indulgent, care-free living that is a poison upon humanity. If killing a man will save society from the infection of lawlessness, then I will gladly do what is necessary.
You eye the journal at your lap. The freshly written ink expands and bleeds to the perfect width of the quill. Satisfied that it won't smear, you shut the book and toss it aside. The meager fire at your feet does little to warm your body, but its original use was already completed. The frail, thin-boned squirrel did little to satisfy your hunger. Still, it would keep you alive until the next meal. You pull the leather waterskin from your pack to gauge how much longer it would last. With a gentle shake, you estimate it'll last a couple more days with strict rationing.
The road is lonely. In a former life, you dreamed about wandering the world without any responsibility or burdens. The reality of the road's harsh living conditions were nothing like the trigger-happy romanticized versions of the lawless west. Here there are no home-cooked meals, no warm body to lie next to yours. It's only you and the necessary task. Someone had to die.
You gaze up at the night sky. It seemed foreign at first. Without city lights to disorient the constellations, it looked like an entirely new sky. If you traveled at a good pace, you'd reach Canyon Diablo by midday. You pull the bone-carved pipe from your pack and light a match against the sole of your foot. You lie down on your bedroll, breathe in the relaxing tobacco, and drift off to sleep...
The Wild West is a dangerous place. Be sure to make good use of that "back" button. I've hidden three achievements throughout the story. Yes, your total score will show if you've discovered them or not. The highest score possible is an 8/8.
Achievements: 1 point each
Epilogue: 5 points
Entry for mizal's Lone Hero contest
8/28/19 Update: Fixed the symbols appearing in the description
There is no escaping our nature. It simply exists. The voice within me, the one that causes me to commit terrible deeds, burns a low ember. Still, it remains, always present, always looking for fuel to burn. It wants to escape. I feel its lust. It wants to devour. This day is no different. I must battle the darkness within.
In various sections, you will be given the option to view a simultaneous event happening in the story. While not directly affecting you, the reader's path, they may create a more cinematic feel to the story.
Originally written as the last page for Sixteen Words,
I hope you enjoy my full adaptation of Contemplation.
on 5/14/2021 12:30:25 AM
Wow, what great company Gower keeps.
I'm the type who can come up with an idea - somewhat of a beginning and somewhat of an end
First things first. There is one beginning and several ends when it comes to storygames. I personally start with the main character. I'm not a world builder or loremaster. Unbroken doesn't even have any nations named, not even in my notes. It's my strong belief that a good story falls apart without a strong protagonist, even in the second person (self insert) format. If the cast of characters are interesting, I find they make the story interesting.
Next. What you're actually asking. There's been discussion on branching stories, whether choices should drastically affect the story i.e. faced with walking out the front door vs sleeping in makes aliens attack or not. I'm not a fan of those. I think the character's choices should affect the story realistically, like the way our everyday choices affect our lives (although they are dramatized in fiction).
That said, I like to have a world set in motion. Grand, epic things are happening, and the reader is lucky enough to find themselves in the middle of it. No matter your decisions, a world leader is going to invade his neighbor, there's a horde of savages building in the east--that sort of thing. Unless you're directly influencing those events (advising or assassinating the world leader, for example) then they're going to happen no matter what. The character gets to choose how they respond to such events.
In terms of filling the middle, there must be logical steps to get from your beginning to end(s). Without knowing exactly what you're thinking, I would keep an eye on pacing. If you're finding the middle section, the main bulk of the story, the scenes that build towards the EPIC ending, then story events may be moving too quickly.
Take a breath and find the hole in the page. Place yourself in the setting, notice the tone of people's voices and the way a small inflection can cause embarassment. Notice the sounds, or lackthereof in awkward pauses, suddenly sending an otherwise overlooked detail screaming in the character's mind. A good pause and describe can make the difference between two dullards drinking Folgers or two people, unforgettable and quirky, sharing a good ol' cup o' joe, spurred by a rush of caffeine and hazelnut aroma, reminiscing on the past and telling stories of lost lovers, all the while throwing light jokes and wily, flirtacious attempts at their too-good-for-them waitress.
on 5/9/2021 2:25:28 PM
Working title: Blackbirds****
Tentative deadline: July 31
Length: Hopefully enough to snatch another sweet MHD commish
Very rough opening. No editing has been made so far. A lot of it is fluid and subject to change. I've been throwing in "****" to mark names that either need to be changed or, well, named in the first place. The setting is fantasy with the crude emergence of gunpowder.
You! Yes, you. Are you looking for a life of adventure? Do you want your name to live forever in history? Join the High King’s army today, and all that (and more!) could be yours! *the High King is not responsible for any bodily harm or fatalities allegedly caused by this message.
Another poster on a billboard littered with hundreds of them. The entire wall is covered with similar messages, the High King’s insignia proudly displayed in the middle. It’s a simple insignia for a man who is likely the most powerful in the world. Your neighbor to the east, Supreme Leader Fargrave, might not agree. Still, it’s your High King who is leading and profiting from expeditions to the New World, not Fargrave and the territory of Magda****. Back to the billboard in front of you; another catches your eye. And yes, in the center is an upside down sword with a golden crown at the top.
The gunslinger’s life is a hard lonely road. The High King offers abundance in both food and comradery! Safety in numbers!
Not the most creative of slogans, or the catchiest, but something’s doing the trick. Your peers are enlisting by the thousands. It’s easier to remember who hasn’t enlisted rather than who has. And who wouldn’t join? There are countless stories of treasures discovered, battles won, and wealth sent back to families. The town crier wails every night on the High King’s victory in the New World, seeping his message into the very dreams of the Alteran citizens.
Rumors are the New World is even larger than the Old. The High King’s Alteran and Fargrave’s Magda*** take up about sixty percent of the land mass. The rest is littered with various republics and “the people’s blah, blah, blah.” Who even keeps track of those small territories? None present actual threat in either trade, military power, or--well, that’s all that matters. Give it a hundred years or so and they’ll all belong to either the High King or Fargrave. You’ve never had the best of luck in the gambling den, but you’d put your money on that bet every time.
Fools. Some things are just too good to be true. The New World speaks to a man. It whispers tender secrets of possession and satisfaction, lining the message with a good ol’ fashioned appeal to man’s stubbornness. Come to me, it says. Your efforts will be rewarded. It’s a hard life, but the payout is well worth it. Or stay put. Live the rest of your life wondering what if? Men with no military experience sign up for the frontlines. For what purpose? To avoid asking themselves that very question.
Fools. They can’t think for themselves, needing the High King’s expedition to lead them into a life full of adventure, putting their life in danger for material wealth and prosperity. And you? Heh. You’re the biggest fool of them all. You enlisted before the New World was even discovered.
“Were you going to join us or do you prefer the company of the billboard?”
You turn to see Corporal Redding. The man’s scraggly beard, now graying, is stained with ale, the top two buttons of his uniform open. The High King’s military uniform. At times it looks too proper for the messiness of war. Still, that’s how the High King governs, with a proper chain of command and regal attire. A long sweeping coat accompanies the uniform, reaching nearly to the standard issue knee-high boots. It’s a dark navy color, stitched with golden trim, seven buttons down the front, gold as well.
Redding takes a large gulp of ale as he expectantly awaits your answer.
“The billboard is a better view than you lot.”
“Come on now…” Corporal Redding takes a glance over his shoulder at the men. There’s twelve of you total, ultimately under battalion command of Captain Briggs. Redding, as the ranking officer, is in charge in the captain’s absence. Behind Redding, one of your fellow soldiers emits a large belch followed shortly with deep laughter. “Ok, maybe you have a point.”
A waitress passes by. Young thing, sweet thing. Noticing your near-empty cups, she stops. “Can I get you another?”
Redding puts his arm around your shoulders. Lightly rapping your chest he says, “Another for my top soldier here.”
One of your fellow soldiers overhears from the table. “Hey I thought I was your top soldier.” The comment and its apparent farthest-thing-from-the-truth causes more deep laughter from the men.
Ignoring the outburst, Redding continues. “You know, this man saved my life more times than I can count. Pulled my body from a burning wagon while dodging arrows and gunfire the entire time. He doesn’t like to admit it, but he’s one of the few men to earn a High King’s seal.”
Bullshit. All of it. But you smile and nod.
“Oh...wow,” the waitress says. “I’ve never met a man who’s earned the High King’s seal.”
You hope she hasn’t. There’s no such thing for a soldier.
“I’ll get you another. And I’m sorry to ask this, but would you help me move one of the ale barrels in the back? Kurd is busy and I hate wandering down to the dark cellar by myself…”
“My work here is done,” Redding whispers in your ear.
What do you like in a review?
on 5/7/2021 12:00:36 AM
It's hard not to appreciate a giant text wall, no matter how much of it is filler, because that's still time someone spent in giving you a review, even if they are mining for featured comments.
My favorite reviews are the ones that show apparent interest in the story. It's pretty obvious to the writer who spent hours laboring over the story whether a reviewer is into it or not. Often it ends up being a mention of minor details or character traits, not grand-scale overall plot development, which anyone can skim through and glean.
Constructive comments also are a must. You're not a dick for tearing into someone's work as long as it's warranted. Tell me how I contradicted myself, forgot certain details, sent a car flying into a telephone wire instead of a pole, etc.
Mad Hatter's Daughter Appreciation Day!
on 3/11/2021 9:58:21 AM
Johnnie Walker, Red.
on 3/2/2021 11:08:13 PM
Guess Green didn't make the cut.
Johnnie Walker, Red.
on 3/2/2021 9:00:17 PM
Empty martini glasses.
Suddenly, joined by two men.
Back in the pocket went the little notebook, tucked close to the heart, a perfect black placeholder for where the ol’ ticker should be. The Midnight Pearl was full tonight, as most taverns are on Friday night. Groups of friends huddled around each other, filling the Pearl with inebriated laughs and voices. Let the hair down, honey. Time to relax. Those who arrived by themselves took their place at the bar, leaning heavy on the bar top, their shoulders visibly hunched by an unseen weight.
Eddie sat alone.
Writing helped him think. Words made sense on the page. They were comprehensible, a set of rules in which he could play in. Hey, you cheated! No fair! Structure, rules. A perfect sandbox to get his fingers dirty in, bending and twisting to his pleasure. He could think. He could analyze. He could…
“Can I getcha another?” the gentle voice of the bartender spoke.
Eddie had overheard her name earlier. Samantha. She was a pretty enough girl. Young face, fit body. Certainly pretty enough to tend bar. The red highlight in her hair, in combination with a nose ring, was just rebellious enough to say, I been through some shit.
Eddie glanced down at the empty lowball in his palm. Wasn’t that just full…? Whatever the case, it’s as empty as a high school hallway in the summer. It’s as empty as the top section of an overturned hourglass. It’s as…
Samantha gazed at Eddie expectantly, her attention far too patient for the crowded bar. She focused on Eddie, (like a momma singling out the little runt!) unlike the flippant ask of a passing waitress, checking the box, always on to the next table.
“Sure, give me another,” Eddie said, pushing the lowball out. It slid with ease over the polished bar top. A game of miniature curling. Slide the glass, and a full one arrives in return. Good ol’ family fun. Only winners here! Except for Eddie’s liver, maybe. But the organ’s been fighting a losing battle ever since she passed. Just another day for the battered thing.
As Samantha reached for the same bottle as before, the scotch with the RED LABEL, she spoke.
“How’s your night going?”
A casual question with loaded implications. See, the question itself was simple, easy. The answer, however, was a little more complicated, spanning a wide berth of potential responses ranging from “Good,” to “Shit. Utter shit. My wife was taken from me and my shitty-ass lawyer could only squeeze twenty-thousand dollars from the evil corporation that slowly poisoned her to death, and so now I’m slowly poisoning myself to death with the RED LABEL in hopes to be reunited with her.” Rein in the crazy, Crazy.
“Good,” Eddie answered, a sudden rush of pent-up emotion rising to the surface, invisible to the public eye, of course. A simple question, yes. One answered with a returned casualness. Only the real answer was much more involved, and just because Eddie didn’t say the words, it didn’t mean the real emotions continued hiding.
One hand on the glass of RED LABEL, the other reached for the inside of his breast pocket. The notebook held a quiet dignity. Not flashy by any means, never the center of attention. It served its purpose well, a vault of secrets, the literary punching bag for someone as untrained as Eddie. Words made sense on the page. They made sense flowing from his fingers. Less so, with what came out of his mouth.
Empty martini glasses.
Suddenly, joined by two men.
Eddie flipped past his most recent entry, glancing back to the where his subjects stood before. Two pairs of two were leaving, the double date obviously going well. Let’s get outta here, whuddya think? Take this party somewhere else. Change into something more comfortable. Nightcap. Want to come upstairs? How about…
Pen hit the paper.
There, but now absent. The memory of what once was, replaced with, with, with…nothing. The world moves on despite what cataclysm rests inside, the apparent destruction of one’s life having no effect on the world as a whole. Take it for what you will, either a comforting thought or a pure, unadulterated fuckin’ idea that nothing ever matters.
His words were always a little more bold with the RED LABEL in hand.
We’re at a crossroads here, bud. The road diverts into two. This train can travel either one of two ways. Pick one and move on. That’s all it takes. Close your eyes, spin the wheel, and crank that sucker. It’s a coin flip. Tails never fails! Success, accomplishment is down one path, destruction and ruin down the other. At least the road is kind enough to leave a signpost. There’s nothing quite like wandering down the road of success only to find it’s actually a one-way path straight to hell.
Me? How kind of you to ask! I was chopped at the knees mid-stride, picked up, slung over the evil corporation’s back like a bag of fuckin’ potatoes, carried and tossed on the road, leaving my crippled, broken, and beaten body to slowly crawl on the path most tend to avoid, dirtying my knees, infecting my wounds, pressing on towards the merciful end.
It didn’t make much sense. The entries rarely did. The black book wasn’t exactly a diary—certainly Eddie didn’t get specific with the words inside. Some things should never be written, private portions of his mind that he didn’t dare whisper aloud, let alone leave evidence. But the entries brought relief, at least for the passing moment. That could be different in a few minutes, but for now, he’s A-OK.
Eddie glanced down. The lowball was empty again. He ordered another. The RED LABEL was nothing more than a small dent in the twenty-thousand, the sum a weight in his pocket matching the one on his shoulders. It could be donated to the RED LABEL Charity for all he cared. Perhaps this time the words would flow as easily from his mouth as they did on the page. The drain is clogged, honey. Nothing a strong liquid can’t help clear. Keep out of reach from children! Samantha’s eyes met Eddie’s.
He ordered another.
Hatter's Sketchbook II
on 2/15/2021 5:29:40 PM
Hatter's Sketchbook II
on 2/15/2021 5:29:18 PM
My Story Progress
on 2/12/2021 3:50:56 PM
Just with a brief scan, I'd suggest more variety with your sentence structure. If the majority is "you do this, you do that," then the reader's mind will wander. And for the large text block at the end, you might want to section it off. It can be the same person talking, but maybe throw in a few casual observences, like Yimdo crossing his arms or speaking at different volumes. Performing a bodily action with speech for emphasis could work well there, like describing hand gestures or tightening one's fist or a narrowing the eyes.
A new story?
on 2/5/2021 5:55:43 PM
If you make this into a storygame, people are mostly going to care about what happens in the war. Everything else that you've written is background and set in stone, which will play a part in who the main character is, but it won't be the events the readers are clicking through unless you include lots of flashbacks. It's hard to comment on a branching story idea when you've told us everything that's happened before he heads off to war. Perhaps your next step is plotting out events to take place while he's fighting in the war if you haven't already.