The 10th Muse 2020 Interactive Fiction Writing Contest announcement (not a Professional Service, but an opportunity)

Hi all! I’m Karoliina Korppoo, the CEO of 10th Muse, a startup company working on an interactive fiction platform. We are still developing the platform but wanted to understand better how people write interactive fiction. That’s why we are running a contest already.

I’m best known as the Lead Designer of Cities: Skylines and as one of the few games industry people ever to speak at the TED main conference. I spent over seven years working with city simulations until I wanted something completely new. I’ve always been an avid reader and a big fan of games with complex branching stories. I felt the world is still missing a way to read interactively, without it being very game-like.

The mobile app we are working on goes by the name Sana. Sana is for text-only stories with branching. No choosing hairdo, paying for clothes, paying for choices, just plain reading. Interactive stories need a revolution and we want to be on the forefront of it.

We are offering cash prizes for the winners. No story submitted will be published without compensation. We may contact authors to offer more paid work and/or negotiate a publishing deal for a non-winning entry.

Any and all feedback is very welcome! There is an extensive FAQ and an example story on the site, but as we don’t have a demo version of the app yet, I’m sure more questions will arise.


It’s great to see more platforms, with their own individual approach, being made. Good luck with Sana, and with the contest!

After reading the FAQ, I do have some questions:

  • Will the tools for Sana include ways to set and recall variables or flags? Or will it be more like a digital choose-your-own-adventure book?
  • Specifically, will they include a way to choose the name and pronouns for the PC, or will the game have set protagonists?
  • Does the contest have any limitations on the stories submitted, other than being supernatural romance? Child-friendly/explicit, straight/gay/ace/bi, plot heavy/romance focused, etc.

Seems very interesting! I’m curious if there are any potential min/max word counts, and whether word counts include code or only count prose.

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Somewhat related to the question about pre-set characters, is there any guess as to wether the site gets more female or male readers? Out of curiosity!


Nice idea, though I wish you were going with a less over used genre to try and get out there than supernatural romance to start off. Still if it is what sells…


Thanks for your interest!

Sana does not currently support variables and flags, is a pure choose-your-own-adventure at this point. It’s possible to manually do selecting a gender, as you could just find and replace all pronouns in the branch to suit the player choice.

No limitations on the stories. The app is aimed at adult women, so no need to be child friendly. I guess it could be a bit more clear in the competition instructions, sorry! All sexualities and genders are very welcome, we aim for inclusivity and to offer content for all kinds of romance preferences. Romance in my mind includes also stories which mainly have a strong tension between characters, and stories which are very erotic.

The suggested word count is 6000 words, which is quite short. This does not include the coding elements, but there are not many of those, as the Sana system is still in the works so we insert the stories manually. All that is needed from the author is to mark which section should connect to which, and an actual human will then do the programming.

AdmirableAnimation, adult female readers are our main focus! I feel there is a lot of people out there who are looking to read romance, and the interactivity elements are a great match for the genre, as people quite often insert themselves into the role of the protagonist.

derekmetaltron, I do understand where you are coming from. Supernatural romance seems to be quite a wide genre and allow room for lots of different ideas, that’s why we chose it. I can straight away imagine it fitting everything from Twilight to H. P. Lovecraft with romantic overtones, so I hope it does not feel limiting to many authors. It simply states that the can be magic in the world and the story should touch on romance. We also have historical fiction currently being worked on, so the final app will not be just supernatural romances :slight_smile:


Hi! Do you retain ownership over all entries, or could a non-winning entry be published elsewhere?

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Myrtle, by submitting a story you only give us publishing rights if the story wins. All rights to non-winning entries are owned by their authors. We can offer a publishing deal to non-winning stories, but the author is free to publish them as they like and there is no obligation to work with us. Publishing on Sana platform does not limit publishing on other platforms, so it’s also okay for us if you want to have the same story published in several places :slight_smile: We might also offer paid work opportunities for authors whose works we like, but these are also just offers, in no way mandatory.


But wouldn’t that require you to create an entire new copy of the whole game, for each gender?
I’m also rather uncertain how to make longterm concequences, without huge amounts of duplicated text. Does the game remember the readers choices?

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I forwarded the competition to my tumblr followers, I know there are people there who wants to write interactive fiction but is finding choicescript too complex. Perhaps this might be their cup of tea.

I am just happy that there’s more companies working in this genre, and while this is not for me, it might be for someone else. Interactive fiction can work on many levels.


Thanks for your answer! I might consider sticking an entry in if I have time, since Twine is something I have toyed with slightly more easily than ChoiceScript because of my dyslexia… Historical fiction and Sci fi would be awesome!

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This example from the site would suggest that it does:

The story returns to the main branch:

If reader chose Choice 1a:

The stairs were always cluttered with trash.

Choice-Based Content Ends

If reader chose Choice 1b:

The stairs were always cluttered with trash, but it was better than trying to open that death trap of an elevator.

Choice-Based Content Ends

“After you,” I said as I opened the door to the stairwell.

On another note, is it okay to write in the second person, like we tend to do with ChoiceScript (“you do this, you see that”) or should the story be told from a first or third person perspective, as is more usual in other sorts of media?


It feels like this contest was made for me. I finished a short supernatural erotic romance game just last month lol. Really excited to see this now and definitely gonna try brainstorming an entry!

@Karoliina The site says at least 6k-10k words in total; is 10k the maximum number of words an entry should be? Or would potentially going a little over that still be acceptable? I was also curious if there’s a specific POV that should be used, like 1st person or 2nd person?


It’s completely fine to go over 10k, the number is there to just give an idea of what is enough :slight_smile: The POV is up to the author, as reading does not feel so much like playing than actually reading a book, which allows for many types of choices.

Looking forward to your entry! <3


Myrtle, second person is okay! We made the FAQ so that it doesn’t state any rules for that, as it’s also okay to keep the reader as a “god-like” choice maker, or use the choices in other ways. The system is meant to be very open and flexible, as we want to give room to authors’ creativity and not limit anything if we don’t have to.


The_Lady_Luck, with the current tool it would be just a lot of duplicated text. The game does remember the path the user took to come to the choice, but we don’t support referring automatically to data in a previous section. It might be something we do later on, as we are still quite early in development. This is also very good feedback that these kind of features are needed.


Thank you so much! Interactive fiction has so much potential!

This seems like a cool chance to get into choice games/cyoa books! If i have time i might try and write a few stories to submit. I’ll also be keeping an eye out for stories from y’all in the future!


Hello, the contest seems really interesting!

I saw on the FAQ page that " Readers should have two options per choice," am I to understand that writing more than two options isn’t authorized? (I apologize for my silly question.)


It is a really great question, as I decided not to participate in the contest as I consider a direct joke only allow two choices. Any company that only give a small room of two choices per scene. It is not interactive, it is binary.

And a really, really, limited scope to games choices or even customization flavour choices. Lol, you only can be wavy hair or straight. Or blonde hair or brunette.