I may have a suggestion that has worked for me in brainstorming ideas. I’ve had great success with using AI to help brainstorm. I’ve found it’s not going to give you the next creative masterpiece idea, but it’s perfect for throwing up a ton of thoughts; sometimes, one or two of those thoughts resonate with you, and then you can take that simple idea and expand it. Using AI is like having a writing partner hog-tied next to you at your desk. It has to listen to your crazy ideas and give you feedback or expand on what you have; it’s got no choice!
I’m sure many people think this same thing, but I’m not 100% convinced that they finished the stories they started plowing into at the start of their project. And, just like you describe when you say you get distracted easily “by everything and its mother.” Their stories often meander about, like a child hunting easter eggs in the yard. Plotting, or having a plan, is often the only way folks like us (the easily distracted) can ever finish a long-term project. My background is in construction (yes, I’m a walking contradiction), and we would never try to build something as intricate as a building without some blueprint. If we tried, it would look like an M.C. Escher drawing or a child’s spaceship/car/boat/motorcycle/gun Lego creation. Cool, but hardly recognizable. A plan or at least certain interspersed plot points you need to hit can make your pantsing more effective. You don’t need to plot out every single scene. Set up the beginning, middle, and end and pants your way to connecting those dots.
Here’s a thing that keeps grating me but which I don’t remember anyone mentioning; Keeping track of what information the player was or wasn’t given in every specific path.
Like, when you start writing an interactive novel, you only really think about how the player can influence the events of the story, reach different endings, romance different characters and so on. But eventually, once you’ve implemented enough choices and optional content, you realize that different paths result in the MC having different levels of knowledge regarding everything other than the main plot beats. It usually doesn’t take much work to fix some potential issue by adding a line of dialogue or two, but it makes me feel constantly anxious about whether the information the MC is working with has been properly conveyed in every path that led to this point. If not for that, my WIP would be quite a bit shorter, and the list of variables at the start would be much shorter.
Absolutely! That’s a good one. While I’m not very far in my narrative, I’m already finding it can be frustrating to account for the different situations the reader can possibly encounter up to a particular point. If anyone else has a good method for keeping track of all the possibilities I’d love to hear them.
What I’m doing to help keep track of this is I use several software programs (I love software), one being Plottr, which allows you to keep track of characters, locations, write world building notes, etc. But, it has a nice timeline feature that allows you to create multiple color-coded timelines that I use to track my different character’s story arcs, as well as the MC branching paths. Then when a path branches you can write summary details for what the character knows along this particular path. The other is I’ve been using Twine. I’m a very visual person so being able to visually see my branching paths is incredibly important. Then I copy my branched scene into Twine and add all the variables that changed in that scene. I add things like stat changes, wounds, relationship, and personality changes and how they changed by taking that path.
I’ll admit, it adds a lot of work to the actual writing. It would be much simpler to just plow through a scene and move on, but I’ve found the extra steps invaluable in keeping track of the myriad things we have to keep track of when writing IF.
I use spreadsheets. And sometimes flowcharts.
Hey everyone! Look how many words they used in this comment! They put together several coherent sentences, it’s like they’re a writer or something. J/K You’ve seen my comments in this thread right? I completely understand the apprehension about putting your work out into the world, I can assure you every single one of us feels that, you’re being vulnerable because every story you write honestly (and that’s the only type of writing I feel that’s worth putting out into the world) contains something that we keep normally hidden.
My two cents on critics. Everyone can be a critic, and far more easily on the internet. Being a critic takes zero courage or talent. A creator takes both. Not to say that constructive criticisms isn’t valuable but more often than not you get people just bashing your work without the constructive part. Again, it takes zero talent to break things. Ignore those people, they know jack sh*t about creativity or creation and their comments hold no value. Keep doing what you’re doing, moving forward, taking the actual constructive criticisms and making your creation better.
How could you not? It’s such a freeing, fun thing. I think if the world had a bit more twirl in it, it’d be a better place.
The greatest frustration: getting worn out.
You are working on your own project, but plenty of other WIPs keep coming out, and you cannot resist the urge to take a look at them, thus robbing your fan base of quality updates and attention. And robbing you of time and energy to plan the next part/chapter etc. And the worst part to this: it has no end! It just keeps on coming, on and on, until you are so overwhelmed, you cannot focus on your work. Thus the wearing out begins, and I’m afraid I’m about to fall into this very trap…