A couple months ago I started exploring code, and more specifically, ChoiceScript. Having been working on actually writing my first HG novel for only a couple of weeks now, this question only just occured to me.
As of currently, my first chapter comes in at well over 15,000 words without code (and doesn’t have as many branching paths as some of the later chapters might). I keep coming back to it and questioning if I’ve made it too long or too short. Is there a certain average for a word count in a ChoiceScript story like this? Or is it just dependant on the author?
Hmm, I’d say 15k is a good length but I’d take into consideration how many choices vs page breaks you have. I know I personally don’t like reading just a bunch of text waiting for the next choice. It may feel too long if there’s too much world building or description with very little player input. If you’re considering deleting/rewriting I’d go through and read a paragraph and ask myself if it’s really important to the story, or if it could be cut out and still make sense.
I will say you can’t please everyone, and if it’s written how you like it, then it’s okay!
Well as long as i know, there’s not a minimum or a maximum wordcount for each chapters. It all depend on the author. But still i prefer a short chapter with meaningful choices and that does actualy impact the outcome, than a long chapter with little choices or a lot of fake choices and a wall of text.
Doesn’t it depend on the pace you want to set for your reader and how wide your story is?
I mean, I’d assume that someone writing a thriller would want to keep the standard quick, short chapters one usually finds with thrillers, to keep the pace tight, with a reveal, some foreshadowing, or a cliff-hanger at the end of each chapter. So I’d assume those chapters would be designed to be read in 5-10 minutes.
With other types of stories, like epic fantasy, I would assume the pace would be a bit slower, and the story itself might be a bit wider, so perhaps longer chapters (10-20 minutes?) might be a better fit?
I do think reading length is a better measure than is word count, because word count can be so affected by width, efficiency of coding, etc.
I would substitute “pace” for “length” in your statement.
As you argue, the pace you set for the story should be the measure everything else is measured against.
With that said, the one thing that stands independent and that should be taken into account above all else when writing an interactive game is the pace of interaction.
In my view, chapters are just convenient ways of breaking down the acts you write for the game. Within the chapters, the real structure we all need to be aware of and working to perfect is the pace of interaction.
Too much interaction and your game branches out into an unwieldy tangled mess that not only makes it harder for you to write but also will exhaust your reader.
Too little interaction and you will make the reader starved for the main thing they are reading your game for.
The sweet-spot of interaction is something that is more of an art than a science but it is my contention that once you find the right pace of interaction the chapters and acts, both, will fall into place for you.
There’s no hard-and-fast rule. My current chapter word counts are - in order - 11k, 20k, and 50k. I can say that longer chapters are much harder for both you and the reader to test and read (I haven’t even looked at my third chapter since I released it because I don’t even know where to start with editing it).
A little correction if I may: 1 unicode character is encoded in between 8 and 32 bits (1 and 4 bytes.) Most chars fall into 1 byte category: latin alphabet and numbers. As a rule of thumb size of plain text correlates to character count. So 1mb file = approx. 1 million characters. Remove (white)spaces and indentation to shave off 10-15% of that 1 mil. Then translate what’s left to words. It’ll be 1/4 at best from the total char count, imo.
Still, a 200-250k word chapter is an immense monster.