Short choice stories. Love them, hate them? Why?

Hi everyone, just wondering what everyone thinks about short stories. Like very short, things that can be completed in 5-30 mins. (Basically picked up and finish one of the story lines in a single sitting). I’ve always quite liked them, but my feeling is that I’m probably in the minority? I also noticed that a couple of short stories I thought would do well, finished below what I was expecting in the ifcomp. So not sure if that was a length or topic issue.

I know it depends on what each story is in particular, but in general what do you think? Like them, hate them? Why?

  • Love them.
  • They’re ok, they have their place.
  • Eh, I’d read them if there was nothing else to do.
  • Dislike them.

0 voters

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An attempt at humor:

I love short stories because, as a male, I relate to them personally.
I think of a short story like a Y chromosome and a longer story like an X chromosome.


I love writing and playing them! A well-crafted interactive short story can be really satisfying, focusing in on an emotion, scene, or situation. As a developer, it’s a great challenge to create something evocative without much time to hook the player.

(Speaking of IF Comp, I particularly liked this year’s 10pm in this respect - takes place over a single evening, and mostly a single conversation, which gives a laser focus on the relationship between the characters.)


:frowning: Eeh…
:clap: *slow clap

I honestly never read short IF, so what are they look like?
The only kind of short stories I’ve ever read come from my childhood magazine (which obviously tells about sunshine-and-daisies, candy-sprinkled, child-friendy story)


I’ll have to have a look at it sometime. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to read through a fairly large proportion of them. I really liked Salt Although I can see that’s probably down to personal taste. I thought Black Marker was an interesting take of things as well. It’s a shame that The dragon will tell your future now had a troll-y ending. The writing was pretty good but I’d say the ending was why it ranked so low.

@Szaal, basically the same as the longer stories but they tend to be tighter, faster moving and focused on particular things. There weren’t any choicescript entries this year in the ifcomp that I know of :frowning: but they can be similar to some of the twine ones out there. I wrote one the other day (although it’s in beta and not public on dashingdons atm.) @HannahPS has a nice one on twine here if you like selkies.


Same with long story games, it depends on the quality. I’ve seen games that take about 5 minutes to complete that I think are amazing and unforgettable. That said, it’s also possible to get extremely long stories/games that are absolutely, hilariously terrible. (That said, I think it’s a lot more common to find terrible short games than terrible long games, since the writer is usually so undedicated that they get bored after the first hundred words and decide to publish the game as “Part 1” of a series they’ll never finish.) :yum:

I love them in a sense, they’re definatley underrated. I only play choice of games games really, as I’m visually impared and like playing on my phone. But dilemma, dead already and what happened last night as well as imprisoned to some extent all came to mind immediately. Though it might be just nostalgia as they’re all quite old games relatively speaking, and among the first I read, though I have replayed dilemma a good few times.

It honestly depends on quality obvs, but also they’re very different to most if not all other games, for one thing I think all the ones I listed have a set mc, no customisation etc and since they are so short I don’t think I’ve ever role played/head cannoned for any of the mcs. Also the choices are a lot more limited I think, so it’s important the choices that are there are good and enjoyable to read. So yeah basically, they’re good if done well, have a much different appeal than other games, but even if done well I probably wont replay them as much as longer “full” choice games with full customisation, a broad range of choices etc.

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A short story is in some ways harder to pull off than a long one. I don’t think the actual craft involved in writing them gets enough respect.

That said, I can be very picky things and a short piece gets me laser focused on every sentence. Some I’ve read are phenomenal, many…not so much. It’s much harder to get away with lazy or generic prose anyhow.


A lot of writers cut their teeth on the short form. That’s a rule for traditional prose storytelling, and the same principle seems to apply here. It gives a great chance for experimentation and testing.

Although I don’t think you should charge people for a single short CYOA, it’s a great way to also get your name out there and build up interest in your writing. I’ve sometimes wondered about whether it would be viable to ever release a sort of CYOA anthology to allow authors to collectively put out their short-form works.


Has anyone ever made a short choice game/ story and then expanded on it?
This one time in India I wrote a like 3 page story, and ended up (both from pride, a good muse, and competition) writing like 30 pages over my summer holiday, which was pretty good for my age.

Shorter choice stories can keep you attention for the entire thing, allow for a lot more replays and inspire readers.
Plus, if released for free, increase the spec/ audience for future games.

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@Moxie I actually agree, in some ways short stories can be harder than longer ones. It can be trickier to get the pacing right while also getting the information across that the reader needs to know. I think they can be great practice for writing particular scenes in longer works as well.

@Avery_Moore yep, I was talking about short stories that can stand alone, not the ones that are written in a chapter format rather than releasing a whole story. I don’t think writing short stories in that form is undedicated, it’s just a different format.

I agree they’d be great for that, but there doesn’t seem to be a good way of getting them out there, short of releasing something like a collection such as @Consgay suggested. I don’t think COG has any, although stories like through the pages and starship adventures would come close. (They’re episodes or stories that can stand alone although they’re all tied together by a central story line and have a definite conclusion.) I think there may be some legal issues with releasing multi author works for free by COG as well, although as a collection and longer than a single story, perhaps that wouldn’t matter as much if it was a paid app.


I wrote Angel Eyes as a oneshot short story and then decided to expand it into Aegis Project.


There are plenty of short IF that I’ve loved. In addition to a few that escape me that I’ve found by trolling archives for interactive fiction, there’s Alabaster and Galatea by Emily Short, Photopia by Adam Cadre, and one IF that I found profoundly impactful, about the MC having a dying dream as they dried to death in the desert.


I tend to dislike short IF stories. Mostly because, more often than not, they’re comedies, and it ends up not being my kind of humor. For the ones that aren’t comedies, they usually just leave me unsatisfied, because I would want to read more into the world, characters, see what happened next, etc.

Pretty much, I just love binge reading for a week straight. Then when I need to break away from the story for work or school, I love feeling excited and thinking about it throughout the day before sitting down and reading again.

Oh, I wasn’t referring to any COG or HGs when I said that, I was more referring to some games I’ve played on Choose Your Story, where the game will play out more or less like this:

chatper won
u r soozie and it ur thirst day off skool. wat do u want 2 do?

  • ged up

  • slep in

(At this point, if you choose to sleep in, your character will die in some random and poorly explained way. If you choose to wake up, it will take you to the next page, which will read a little like this: )

u ged up and go 2 skool and OMG UR CRUSH JAKOB ID AT DA SKOOL AN HE LOOK SO SEXEH!!!1!!1! wil he ask u 2 da prom? find out in part too!

… And then the game ends. I wish I could say I was exaggerating. :persevere:
(Luckily, the mods now have a system in place where a game will be deleted from the site if it has a particularly low rating and doesn’t meet the site’s standards. Still, there’s a brief moment where games like this get their chance to shine.) :blush:


In the CYS community I believe such games are known as ‘free points’. :stuck_out_tongue:

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There’s a app in GPS named creepy pasta and it has a story named - psychosis.

Awesome story. Loved the protagonist.

The app has a lot of short stories and I liked most of the ones I read.


Yep. Always nice to get a point just for clicking on three links that have about twenty words between them. :yum: