September 2023 Writer Support Thread

I thought everyone my age grew up reading CYOA, and it’s been a little uncanny for me to discover that not everyone has that as a reference point.


They probably don’t. Most (if not all) baby boomers were adults by the time those books started coming out. They didn’t exist in 1979, unless there was an early prototype I don’t know about.


They bought them for their kids.


One of the Halloween jam rules is meaningful choices. So you have to have at least two choices to apply to the jam.

It is easy to implement for instance if you let select gender or something like that if that choice bring a difference in the story I will allow your game to be a part of the jam.

If there is no choice you will be include as honorary mention and be linked and everything. Only people can not vote for your game.


Don’t worry, it’ll have a good couple of choices in it still! That’s why before I said “hardly any” as I didn’t wanna write an entire game with just this new thing I’m trying out.


Ah, okay dont give me these kind of jump scares we are not in Halloween lol


I laughed so hard because that’s how I explain it too. TAT

See, this is how you talk to gamers about it.

This is a really good one. I think I’m gonna use it.

You. I like you. This is exactly how I read CYOA books.

Huh. This is a lovely bit of history. I didn’t know any of this, thank you for providing it for me!

Also, I don’t know how to feel, but this thread has been yelling at me for replying too often. TAT


It’s funny, growing up my favourite interactive books were Fabled Lands with a dash of Goldhawk, Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf rather than CYOA but we still called them “choose your own adventure” books!


How I define terms within interactive fiction:

  • Interactive Fiction: Catch all term for all mediums that allows the reader, viewer or player (depending upon medium) to make decisions to enough of an extent that it is the primary focus of the story and or game.

  • Narrative Driven: Interactive fiction that is solely about a reader or viewer making decisions provided by the writer or game via two or more prompts. The traditional term for such fiction has been ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ owning to the series that popularised the format in books, but which became a catch all term for all books and inspired content (Find Your Fate, Decide Your Destiny, Twistaplot, Give Yourself Goosebumps etc) and has been opposed by the current owners ChooseCo. The best modern example of narrative driven IF in book form is probably Click Your Poison by James Schannep. Video games under Telltale can also be said to have elements of this format alongside others.

  • Second Person: The traditional perspective of most interactive fiction and similarly inspired mediums like Reader Inserts, counter to books traditionally using first person (I) or third person (he/she/they) by using ‘you’ and therefore making the reader or player the focus of the story.

  • Stat Driven or Gamebook: A more complex version of interactive fiction that adds additional mechanics to the decisions of a Narrative Driven piece such as keeping track of health for combat, attributes that affect decisions, the use of items and other possibilities. Traditional gamebooks (for example Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf) tend to differ from narrative driven IF in how they tend to have only one true ending (though typically several ways to get there) and will usually see the reader or player (both terms are correct) die several times in the attempt. Written gamebooks tend to require dice, pen and paper though the medium has moved onto numerous other formats (notably video games) that more easily keep track of stats and equipment for the reader/player.

  • Reader Interactives: An offshoot of interactive fiction, typically found within fanfiction, where the writer allows interactivity via votes for readers as to what happens next, with the mass vote affecting the outcome until the next decision. Cynicism suggests this is a means of a writer getting attention from readers via the need for reviews to advance the story and the exact level of true interactivity is unclear since only the writer knows what other paths might have led to. Very regularly misrepresented as Choose Your Own Adventure which ticks Derek Metaltron off. :yum:

  • WWYFF?: Code for ‘Who Would You Fall For?’ or sometimes the variation of ‘Who Would Fall For You?’, this niche offshoot of IF typically is found within fanfiction (primarily via websites like Quizilla and Quotev) and sees the reader (virtually always female) interacting with a number of love interests (virtually always male) and ending up with one based on decisions made via a quiz style format. The story is mostly static but via the quiz the reader’s response are tallied and the highest result leads to a special ending with the love interest. Cliches within most WWYFF owning to its romance focus tend to be the reader having a chosen one secret, being essentially kidnapped and forced to remain with the love interests, the love interests all living together alone by themselves (though they are typically teenagers) in a large house and the love interests being stereotypes by personality or paranormal species. Despite this some decent WWYFF do exist.

  • Open World Gamebook: An offshoot of a gamebook popularised via the Fabled Lands series in 1995/96, this format allows the reader/player the ability to move through a world in a flexible manner similar to open world video games, giving the reader a extremely high amount of choice as to where to go and what to do, essentially giving the reader a sort of solo role playing experience. Open World Gamebooks do not typically have a specific beginning or ending for the reader, and allow them to move between multiple books, with code words being a form of the gamebook remembering your decisions. Though Fabled Lands was the only example for many years, modern examples like Steam Highwayman, Legendary Kingdoms, Vulcanverse and the upcoming SAGA all are variations of this format.

Sorry there was a lot of words there! :sweat_smile: A lot of this of course is related to the original books rather than the mediums that have superseded interactive fiction to some extent but I think it’s still useful terminology.


Nostalgia for CYOA is how I ended up finding CoG in the first place, which is definitely out of the norm, since the genre was basically dead by the time I was born. Only reason I had them was because my elder siblings passed them down to me.

I understand why you’d describe it like that, but it feels weird because that’s how the video game industry started, since GUIs weren’t a thing back then.

In a sense, it’s come full circle, with this being the most extreme example of retro indie game development since it goes back to the dawn of the industry.


I got into interactive fiction via CYOA books and similar books too, though Fighting Fantasy books were also a big influence. I find it interesting that narrative driven stuff like CYOA did much better in the 80’s in America whilst Fighting Fantasy and other gamebooks did much better here in the UK and Europe. Don’t know if that was a variation of typical reading ages for both sides of the pond or if it was just a case that Fantasy was a much more popular genre in Europe? Though since Dungeons and Dragons was probably a big influence on gamebooks and that originated from the USA (Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone who wrote FF were originally writers of the first British made DND modules) maybe that’s not the case.


Yes, I feel like by the 90s, Fighting Fantasy had really taken over the original CYOAs, in the UK at least - I remember seeing them taking up large chunks of the shelves (when I was hunting for and pining after the Fabled Lands volumes I couldn’t get hold of :sob: - it was a delight being able to read them as an adult!)


Still bummed that Fabled Lands might never be completed, though I was yesterday years old when I found out someone actually WROTE a fan made version of Book 9 nearly a decade ago and I never knew about it until now! :exploding_head: (And some German writer also made a short expansion that allows you to visit the seemingly impossible to get to Unbounded Ocean in the far North East too that got translated into English.) They’re both on RPGGeek if you want to see them (unfortunately the links won’t work without an account).

That said Dave Morris has confirmed that Book 8 is officially coming from the same writer as Book 7 as well as two adaptions of his Golden Dragon gamebooks into Fabled Lands Quests as he did with his FF book Lair of the Lich Lord.


I’m surrounded by lotr fanatics so I typically put it into that context. Following your format:
Boomers: “Imagine if you could decide whether they go to Moria.”
Millennials: “Imagine being able to clock Denethor right in the teeth.”

People still tend not to get it. But everyone gets a laugh out of the conversation as the scenarios I throw at them get sillier and sillier, and that’s kind of all I care about if I’m honest :joy:


My cousin was really into Twilight, so I did something similar when I explained to her. “What if you got to decide whether Bella ended up with Edward or Jacob … or Alice?”


Due to the way I write, I can define IF as visual novels with the visuals taken out, basically.


What If? and Interactive Fiction practically go hand in hand! I remember once thinking about doing a Life’s Lottery style story for the Skywalkers in Star Wars or Spider-Man and just seeing how little decisions would have made their lives so different.

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What’s your strategy for explaining what it is you do here?

Oh no. Where should I start?

CYOA is one possible reference point.

I probably don’t tell anybody what I do here, but my simple answer would be “to take video games that I love to the next level, to let players decide how the story progresses, within reasonable limits.”

The IFwiki has a good deal of resources pertaining to background and definitions, in the theory aspect , and the age-old question of “Why write IF”.

Now some of us found this community through gamebooks and I am one of them. So maybe I have a good feel of what I’m up to.Then again, it feels like I am swimming in the ocean without a swimsuit and an oxygen tank. Which reminds me: the various magic commands in Steve Jackson’s Sorcery (the book, and extending to the app) is reminiscent of the Special Weapons from Mega Man!

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Gen X-er sighs resignedly, throws on Breakfast Club soundtrack for the thousandth time.


Normally I describe it as a “digital CYOA, but more interactive”.

This works for most people. Then if I follow up that it is a text game that remembers your choices, more people seem to understand it. After that I start recommending specific titles to people to try it out.

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