Some terms questions

There isn’t a set one. :slight_smile: And your post makes it clear that we’d need a couple of different taxonomies.

Sometimes we need to talk about user experience. Every reader sees “pages” between choices or next buttons. The often-discussed issue of “how often should I break up my text” (e.g. How often should you use page_break? - #3 by Gower) is about the ideal size for this unit. Most readers also see chapters, since the majority of COG writers choose to divide the story that way.

But there’s only a loose connection between that classification and the CS coding categories of scenes and choices. Plenty of writers (including me) end up with multiple-scene chapters, and some use scenes called in a gosub_scene that aren’t in the chapter hierarchy at all. Choices aren’t the only thing that breaks up text into pages.

Pages and chapters seem to me like useful labels to describe the reader experience, given the book-like interface. Their length and rhythm will vary according to genre and authorial style.

Why not just one scene per chapter? Well, if you write long stories (like me) having multiple shorter scene files for a chapter can make it easier to find my place. A scene has its own temp variables, so if you have more than one distinctive challenge per chapter, it’s easy to split them. One half of my Chapter 3 needs a bunch of temp variables tracking the interrogation of the noble travelers; the other half needs a bunch of temps that track your response to an attack on your band. There’s no reason those all need to be in one scene file, and dividing them into two makes it easier for me to jump into the coding.

Why not make those two different chapters, each focused on one challenge? Partly, that’s a stylistic question; but it also has to do with how free the reader is to make choices that shortcut a chunk of story. If my whole Ch 3 was about the noble travelers, it could be cut almost laughably short if you choose to shoot them first and ask questions later. But I wanted to allow that choice.

In connection with how you plan to write, I’d just note that I find it very hard to gauge while writing how the “page” will actually look, especially with coding variation involved. Whenever I read back over what I’ve written, I end up making tweaks so that it reads more smoothly on the actual screen. Do what works for you, but be mindful that if you’re not coding and reading your text as you go, it’s easy to end up with one option yielding a textwall and another a staccato sequence of super-short pages. That isn’t ideal for reader experience.

7 Likes