November 2022's Writer Support Thread

If my last few projects taught me anything, it’s that I need to brush up on my skills for everything that comes before and after the first draft: outlining, planning, pre-writing, diagramming, and most especially, editing.

So my goal this month is to finish a short story. A not-so-short one. Not as in finishing a first draft, NaNo style, but more as in producing a clean and polished final product that I can be proud to submit for publication. And the plot is based on a dream I had, earlier this year.



Good luck!


Hello, :heart_on_fire:

I have been a little behind on progress, and did not hit all the milestones I was hoping to hit in October. Though I reached the word count, I must tinker and do some heavy revision this month to get the feels I was going to capture.

This month is less hectic for me compared to last month, so I hope I will have more time to burn through my homework assignments and write more.

My goal for this month:

  • Finish C2, which is currently estimated at 45%.

It needs just 30k more words and then I can spend December editing and testing. Ideally, easy division would tell me I need about 1,000 words a day, but I will aim for a practical 5,000 - 6,000 a week.

Happy writing everyone! :heartpulse: :turkey: thanks to @Eiwynn for these wonderful threads and for keeping us motivated! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:


Happy NaNo to everyone participating, and to you who aren’t: enjoy the lack of existential dread! :grinning:

This month I’m participating myself, though I’m also finishing a chunk of story that should have been done a while ago. Writing an IF is an interesting journey to say the least, and I must admit that there’s only a bull-headed stubbornness to write ‘The End’ on this story that keeps me going on some days. I dare not make eye-contact with the document-- I must only forge forward on the parts I have not written and wield my word-chopping axe with certainty when I edit. The only struggle I can’t seem to rid myself of is how to allow myself the time I need to write while still having fun. I’m sure it will come with time as I learn how to write without adding so much pressure on myself. And finding the balance between using deadlines as motivation without them turning into dread.

The goal for this month? Finish the update and post it, even if it isn’t perfect. That’s what the rewrite is for. The show must go on or I will work on this forever.

Leaving you with this, " Experience of Writing a Book":

Love this guy.

All the best to you, your posts and progress are a constant source of motivation! Now that I have procrastinated enough, maybe I should go write my daily wordcount…


Good luck to you all! I wish you all the best.

As for myself, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to write anything anytime soon, for personal and highly unpleasant reasons, but I actually managed to write 1400 words this night so far. Unexpected, but I’m quite delighted indeed.


Sometimes feedback can be very affirming.

I received the above feedback today from alpha-readers; it validates the work I am doing, and shows me that the rewrite is working.

This in turn helps fight off doubts and ill-feelings that sometimes occurs.

Sometimes sharing small snippets of your work and receiving feedback can help make sure you are staying on track with your writing.

I recommend this practice, hard as it may be to share something before you feel it is ready.


Seconding this. The earlier the better, if you can bring yourself to do it. Getting eyes on something even before you think it’s ready can be really valuable.

In other news, I’m pleased to say that despite being ill this week, I’ve coded the final chapter of Royal Affairs! It’s almost 17000 words with only code and placeholders, so it’s going to be a big one. But I’m really excited to have the shape of the thing down, and to have thought of some fun niche endings that will be a nice surprise for a (probably) small proportion of players. Now it’s time to put the words in!


Now my advice from the point of a loser. If nobody wants to read your snippet and all the people you ask for it never replying back.

Just keep writing it hurts and makes you feel like an official loser, but at the end nobody will trust or help you until you or are popular or have a name made.

I have been here a decade and still having that problem so please don’t stop writing because nobody wants to read your draft.


Finding Readers, Post One: First Readers

Getting readers at the various stages of our writing is essential.

But, how does a person do so?

Everything I put in this post is gleaned and modified from more experienced people; some from gaming and some from writing.

Most of the material out there is either generalist info, or given with the assumption that you are writing a book. With that said, there are core concepts and practices that we can use, even as a niche writer of interactive fiction.

I will link a couple of sources that I feel might help in a later post.

First, we need to define what stage of the writing process our project is.

I use a structure that I attribute to Jesse Greyson, a blogger and writer that I found a few years back. I have made and modified what she has shared to fit my particular needs.

Here is a link to her site:

Stage One: Just Created Writing – Putting an idea on paper

  • First Readers – Trusted souls who will be honest with you.
    ** These readers should be supportive and positive no matter what. (AKA Cheerleaders)
    ** These readers also need to be honest in their feedback without crushing your writing spirit.
    ** Famous example: Stephen King uses his wife, Tabitha (a writer as well.)

  • Useful Feedback First Readers should be able to provide:
    ** What works for them with the plot?
    ** What does not work for them with the plot?
    ** What characters did they like, and why?
    ** What characters did they not like, and why?
    ** Did the story capture and keep their interest, and why or why not?

  • Special need for an IF author’s First Reader:
    ** These readers need to understand what interactive fiction is and also enjoy the text format

  • What to do if you do not find any First Readers?
    ** Keep working on your idea; you can skip to Stage Two

Most inexperienced writers are at this stage in their projects when deciding to post a “Works in Progress” thread here. I would urge you to hold off on posting a WiP thread at this stage of your project.

If you want to use your WiP thread as a substitute for First Readers, I would suggest you directly ask people to provide the feedback listed above.

Focus on those posters’ feedback that follows what you ask for. Ignore the rest.

It is too easy to have your project derailed if you are not careful at this stage of your project.

Up Next: Alpha Readers


My courage has regressed so badly, and it’s such a shame! Ten years ago I attended writer’s courses, published stories and poems online and such. Nowadays my hands gets clammy if I even share a snippet. I miss that courage of mine!


Finding Readers, Post Two: Alpha Readers

Getting readers at the various stages of our writing is essential.

But, how does a person do so?

Once we get an idea on paper, and we start developing a story, the next step is to get more focused feedback on our story structural elements.

Stage Two: Completing the First Draft

  • Alpha Readers – Those that like to help you smooth out your story by focusing on specific issues.
    ** These readers are often specialists who can provide feedback on specific elements.
    ** These readers will be best utilized by showing them snippets of your work
    ** Some Alpha Readers can be Beta Readers

  • Structural Elements of Writing Alpha Readers Should Give Feedback On:
    ** Plot
    ** Characters
    ** Pace
    ** Dialogue

  • Specific IF Elements To Get Feedback On:
    ** Choices
    ** Mechanics
    ** Main Character (Player) Elements (ie. self insert vs author insert issues)

Avoiding elementary writing mistakes such as “telling rather than showing” is also a possible emphasis for Alpha writers, but for this type of feedback, Alpha Readers should have a writing background or experience in either testing or proofreading.

The purpose of alpha testing is to complete your first draft as smoothly as possible. The smoother your first draft, the better beta phase you will have (which will be explored in the next post).

The best way of doing this is to provide a section of writing at a time for them to test. Chapter by chapter, snippet by snippet, or specific word count by specific word count. (I show snippets of 300, 600, and 900 words at a time usually).

Alpha readers are also essential for specific themes and focuses in your story.

I’ll provide examples from my own writing:

  • In one of my stories, I have underwater scuba scenes. I have a scuba instructor and an underwater shipwreck diver as an Alpha reader who advises me on what needs to be improved on to make such scenes work.

  • In my rewrite, I am trying to improve my npc character development. I recently showed alpha readers a rewritten character introduction. They were able to give feedback on these changes, and this feedback helped me make sure my rewriting was on track.

Alpha readers are often readers you find specifically to help with a particular issue or whom you develop a working relationship with over time.

Many writers have different writer groups or workshops they participate in and use for alpha reading purposes. These can be in person groups (classes, social get-togethers etc.) or be online through services such as Discord, Facebook Groups, and so on.

I pull a lot of my alpha readers from my game testing background. For the scuba instructor, I approached a local shop owner in my area and asked if he knew of someone that would be willing to help.

This is the phase you most likely have to be a self-starter … there are ready-made options available for the beta phase, but not so much the Alpha stage of your project.

Something that people do in this community is they start private testing groups, done through DM or through Discord.

Once again, a Work in Progress thread is not conductive for this phase.

If you do decide to use a WiP thread for this phase, the best thing is to direct the feedback with specific questions, prompts and polls… examples that work here are: romance option polls. This community loves to give feedback on romances.

As with the First Reader phase, focus on those posters’ feedback that follow what you ask for. Ignore the rest.

It is too easy to have your project derailed if you are not careful at this stage of your project.

Up Next: Beta Readers


Very good info @Eiwynn for the 1% that has the popularity or is already a professional so has an active fan base or a editorial network.

If I sound bitter it is because I still am. All my attempts of alpha or beta ended up terribly and with me depressed and broken.

So, my advice is different in a way expect that nobody will reply ad you are mostly alone except you are creating a popular romance game


Finding Readers, Post Three: Beta Readers

Getting readers at the various stages of our writing is essential.

But, how does a person do so?

Once we get a first draft, the next step is to test “Reader’s Experience.”

Stage Three: Fine-Tuning the Reader’s Experience

  • Beta Readers – Those that help you turn a first draft into something you submit for publication.
    ** These readers should read your story holistically (concerned with the whole)
    ** These readers provide feedback on what does and does not work for them
    ** Choice of Games/Hosted Games provides a unique opportunity to access beta readers.

  • Useful Feedback Beta Readers should be able to provide:
    ** What they love about your story?
    ** What they hate about your story?
    ** Were they ever pulled out of immersion, or lose connection to your story?
    ** Were they ever confused?
    ** Are there any improvements they think you can make?
    ** Were they bored at any time?
    ** Did anything excite them about your story?

  • Special Needs for IF Beta Readers:
    ** An understanding of how an interactive fiction story differs from a conventional story
    ** An understanding of common IF writing techniques and practices

  • Prompts for Beta Readers (credit Jesse Greyson and Mary Robinette Kowal for these):
    ** A – Awesome. Let me know anything you think is awesome, so I keep it in the final draft.
    ** B – Boring. Let me know where your attention wandered.
    ** C – Confusing. Let me know anywhere you felt confused and why.
    ** D – Didn’t Connect. Let me know anything you didn’t buy into and why.
    ** E – Expectations. Let me know where your expectations were not met, and why.

  • Organizing a Private or non WiP Beta:
    ** Ideally, I try to recruit 20 readers.
    ** Divide them into two groups of 10 and alternate between the two groups
    ** People wait until the last moment to give feedback, so set a deadline.
    ** I usually run a 6-week period for each group, starting the second group one week later than the first.
    ** Expect a drop-out rate of about 30%, more if the readers have no history with you.
    ** Remember that being a Beta Reader is hard; always respond to feedback constructively, even if you disagree with it.

  • Things to keep in mind when considering feedback you receive:
    ** Only you know the correct vision for your story.
    ** You don’t need to implement all changes your beta readers suggest, nor should you.
    ** What you are looking for is a general consensus.

Taking advantage of the Work in Progress thread beta offered by CoG/HG:

One of the underappreciated resources available to us here is the WiP thread. Hundreds, if not thousands, of readers are potentially available for you to utilize.

There are currently three WiP Beta methods I would recommend following here: the Standard Model, the Havenstone Model and the Mixed Model.

  • The Standard Model:
    ** Provide a complete game to test and receive feedback on.
    ** Feedback is often received by email, post, or a combination of both
    ** Patreon and Tumblr can often be utilized by authors wanting to expand this model
    ** Authors that use this model include: Lucid, and ZacharySergi.

  • The Havenstone Model:
    ** Once a chapter is completed, provide access to the game
    ** Receive feedback on the game and update as you write more of the game.
    ** Feedback is often received by email, post, or a combination of both
    ** Patreon and Tumblr can often be utilized by authors wanting to expand this model as well.
    ** Havenstone is the innovator of this method within this community, which is why I named it after him.

  • The Mixed Model:
    ** You pick and chose elements that work for you.
    ** Most authors will show a demo, get feedback on it and then complete a final draft for submission
    ** Some authors provide growing demos – demos that start incomplete that are then added to.
    ** Feedback is often received by email, post, or a combination of both
    ** Patreon and Tumblr can often be utilized by authors wanting to expand this model as well.

This third post wraps up this discussion’s starting point. I will respond to posts as they are made.

Note – There are specialty readers (ie. a sensitivity reader), but these types of readers are not covered by the scope of my posts. My posts are meant to be a general guideline.


Hopefully, with new success, such as your gem of a game you made for the Halloween jam, you can renew your courage.

Mara is great at finding ways to assist people just starting out, or those, like yourself, looking for a fresh start.

I really appreciate the effort she puts into her jams, and I am glad she started the Nano thread as well.

Thank you for sharing your struggles, @Caronte, because by doing so, you show others that they are not alone.

That is a huge support that you are paying forward by doing so. :revolving_hearts:


One of the main purposes of this thread is to show people that they are not alone.

I realize my thoughts and methods may not work for everyone.

With that in mind, here are a few articles written by others that hopefully will help, if my posts do not:

Be aware that these are written for the general writer in mind, and so you may need to modify their advice to fit your IF needs.

Writing is often as painful as it is joyful. I am sorry you are experiencing the pain you are and hope support such as this helps.


I seem to be writing ~1000-word chapters right now… :thinking: I mean, it’ll probably need padding before being ready for publishing, but still. Weird, I used to write longer ones.

Then again, there I had multiple POV characters in a chapter.

(Also it’s harder to make a camera cut in CS format anyway.)


I didn’t want to sound like I was attacking you, I wasn’t It is good material.

But all part from the ideal concept that people will want to read your project. That is not my experience at all.

Those types of writing articles makes me feel a failure and it is like a pointing fingers to people who hasn’t that network they have.

“Oh, you don’t find testers. You should be shit!”

In fact many give advice in how filter testers when there are many options… It is like a kickin the loins.

But It is just me and my sad experience.


I used to have a friend who I knew wanted to read what I was writing, even if they never actually commented anything, and that was the entirety of the audience I was aware of, but it was still motivating. It isn’t much of a network to have one friend, but it is a good start.


My friends don’t speak english and arent into IF. Writing in another language is a pain if you don’t have a support group. You need extra help, but it is harder to find any.


True, that. (Mine was a case when I was writing a novel in Finnish - never completed it though - but then again, you’d nonetheless be hard-pressed to find a Finn under… 45? years who doesn’t read English at all. IF is another thing, of course.)