Predicaments in switching writing style from novels to COG's?

I’ve been drafting on and off my first draft of a COG’s project in the last few weeks and it has been an absolute hair yanking experience for me. Especially with the clipped-on feelings of inadequacy and the followed up complete destruction of my self-esteem after hours after hours of sitting in front of a blank page.


The most I’ve came up with was two paragraphs, which I deleted the next day and returned to a bunch of *create lines and the chapter’s name. :sweat:

It obviously has to do with the fact that I was so used to writing a linear plot, fixed protagonists and single paths for a normal novel and I was so overwhelmed by this new method of writing that I was totally confuzzled and lost. (Haven’t made it out of it yet, so far). :confused:

Well… since y’all have plenty of… maturity with this, and some of you may have fallen into this dark, depressing and twisted path of mine, may kindly offer me some tips about this transition.




Just write!

It doesn’t matter how bad or good your writing is just write. Forget about the code. Forget about the stats for now. To begin with, the most important thing you do is WRITE!!! Get your story down. Do it linearly if you must. Put big INSERT CHOICE HERE signs and then just keep writing along your linear path. You can always go back and add in the choices later.

And stop deleting things. You can rework those later too if you must.


The best advice I could think of is to just keep trying.
Start of with something simple, don’t branch off too much, and make your branches meaningful. Look at the code of other people’s projects to see how they handle it, and try to find what suits you best. There’s no universally right method here. What works for one person might be useless to someone else.

I’m not very methodical in my writing, despite having been trying to write interactive fiction for over two years now. For my main project I’ve got a basic outline for the general plot, including some notes for the main branches, which I generally try to stick to. Most of the actual plotting happens before I get started on a new chapter though. It more or less starts off with the questions ‘Will there be a branch in the main plot in this chapter, and so how and where will that happen?’ and ‘Will past events influence what happens in this chapter, and if so how and where?’.

For most of the details I’ll just wing it, but it’s always nice to have some basic structure in place for support in those times when you don’t really know what to write.

(Seems like me and @FairyGodfeather stick to completely different methods here ;))


Nope! My own method is I plan thoroughly first. :slight_smile: In fact I spend so much time planning I rarely get any actual writing done.

I have entire games mapped out, which I just haven’t bothered to write. It’s dreadful!


Well, my method, if you could call it that, contains a fair amount of ‘just wing it’ attitude. Planning gets a bit boring when you do it in too much detail, and besides, my characters refuse to play along more often than not and end up doing something completely different from what I’d wanted/expected them to do.

The actual writing part in interactive fiction is a bit difficult for me as well. In a regular novel I can just keep the momentum going since the story is mostly linear, but in interactive fiction I’m constantly held up after finishing a branch, because I have to go back and write some completely different branches instead of moving forward. :cry: It can get a bit frustrating at times, but yeah, it has to be done.


Thank you! But I’m one of those “follow-dat-muse” writer, I rarely, if ever plan ahead and usually sat down with an empty head so… hah.

You could always write the one path first then you can go back and go “Okay last time he went around the forest to avoid bandits. What would happen if he went through the forest would he be attacked by bandits? Or maybe he’d even get to the destination quicker.”

The phrase “What if?” is a writer who is transitioning from novel to interactive fiction’s best friend.


Thank you! I’ll keep that in mind. :slight_smile:

@Section, If you really dive into interactive fiction and create a gamebook, this will be you a couple of years later when you try to return to writing a regular novel.

“Wait…which of these characters is the most interesting romantic option for the main character? I can see all of them bringing different pros and cons to the table. And yeah, this fight scene on top of a moving train in the Swiss Alps is pretty exciting! Should the main character win by ducking a split second before the train goes through a low tunnel, with the villain going SPLAT? But wait…it would be pretty cool if the villain could be captured and not killed. Think of all the plot points I could introduce then! Decisions! Decisions! Why do I have to make all of these decisions about what the “best” story is”


As a fellow newbie to interactive fiction I’ve found that writing, coding then testing in short bursts works very well, it’s really helped me adjust to the medium to see something palpable grow out of the ether.


I guess it’s one of the thing that attract me to this script, your plans can really be loose. Most of the events you conjure up in your head have to be subtracted as the story progress in a novel, but with this thing you can bundle them up together without having to figure out how to connect all of them together.

I guess that’s why it’s hard :confused:

Fairygodfeather is wise. The write-delete-write-delete syndrome keeps too many talented people from publishing.

Opportunities to work on my game are rare, and I almost never get an hour at a time with it. I can’t afford to waste time staring at the screen. I sit down and start typing right away. I can do that because I am not working linearly and I don’t have a draft. My DIP (demo in progress) looks like this.

For me, building this game is like building a house. If I tried the linear approach, it would be like trying to hang the front door before the foundation is even begun. Notice how the story takes place in “Kingdomland.” Fantasy settings need great names, but names are like the paint. They can come later. That’s what Find/Replace is for.

Not much in there about choices either. Can’t make choices until you have good characters and intriguing scenarios. I’m almost ready to start on the choices.

This approach lets me work on whatever I feel like that day without having to worry about where I am in the plot. Yesterday I added another layer to the villain’s secret plan. Before that I worked on some spells. Before that I fleshed out some much-needed backstory. It’s like a super-efficient way of staring at the screen. Nothing in my head gets lost. When I think starting a draft will be helpful, I’ll start a draft. Not before.

This bears no resemblance to an actual draft, of course. Not yet. Good thing I’m not on a deadline. But it keeps me from wasting the time that I have. Every session brings me closer, even if it’s just a little bit.

That’s my method. I’ll let you know if it works.


Wow, that’s informative. Thank you! To be honest, it’s always hard for me since I always feel like “Something-is-wrong-with-this-draft” and abandon everything altogether after a while into it. But everyone’s been giving a lot of helpful tips so I think I’m more confident in things now.

Also noteworthy that I’m not a native English speaker so… yeah, it’s hard not to be self-conscious.


Oh and psss… Also thank you for introducing me to that little piece of software there (Scrivener), I was intrigued and search it up. Been looking for something like that since forever.