This is… an interesting topic, I think.
I think each story I’ve done any work on has its own style for the workflow.
I suppose I’ll talk about how it is for me with Monsters, being my main WIP. So, if there’s a major division- like a limb of a tree, which then has branches on it, which then has twigs… well, a big division would take the reader to several different sections depending on their choice. Choosing who to bunk with at camp would be an example of this. Each of those sections would be worked on one at a time until finished. But they would have divisions, too, which would tend to come out for me as indented threads of writing. Sometimes I’ve gotten myself in trouble by branching too much in this way and coming to a long section buried within a thread that I want to tie multiple sections to. So I either need to copy/paste a huge amount of text, or copy/paste the whole thing into a new label and adjust everything. It’s easier to do the latter in theory than in practice- usually because by the time I notice I want to tie things together I’ve already got my mental order for things temporarily sorted out and readjusting makes me think I could have just done better the first time. It’s… not so easy.
In a thread… I like to write through one choice at a time. But sometimes, if I putter out on one I’ll just go to another and recharge, and then come back to it. When choices are buried within choices, well- more or less the same principal. It just takes longer and leaves ‘loose ends’ that just feel like more work to fill in when filling them in results in -more- branching. Then there are the twigs, which are like, little additional things that don’t actually branch the story, but add something to it if certain conditions apply, like if you’re playing a certain character or have a stat a certain way. Although they -can- branch the story. Sometimes going down one branch chain is a full session of writing- sometimes filling out multiple branches.
I don’t have a flowchart. I don’t have an outline or anything written down I go by. I don’t know what the sentence after the one I’m in the process of writing will be. I do know what will ‘happen’ in each chapter of the story. And when I get to the chapter, I have a clearer idea what will happen in each section in that chapter- the closer to something I am, the more it goes from vague to distinct. Sometimes there are parts that I have in mind way in advance- I railroad myself to some degree, but they’re also often exciting to write. Other times I’m surprising myself with what the characters will say or do next. I know the characters ‘are’, I have a clear idea of their personalities in my mind- but because I don’t know what’s going to happen ahead of time, I don’t know how they’ll react ahead of time. I -do- know how to bend choices in subtle ways that would make a character respond differently than a slightly different word choice, as an example… Characters and ‘things’ in a story are always well-developed in my mind. But sometimes the pace completely throws me off. Like having something I thought was a side-track hard-to-reach possibility sprawl and sprawl into its own ‘optional’ section.
I’ve always personally found it easier to write if I’m writing than to write if I’m not. That both applies to if I’m writing consistently, and if I’m actually writing at a given moment, opposed to doing something else. It’s easier to -keep- writing than to -start- writing, at least for me.
Having a large amount of open-branches is a bit frustrating for me. Having a branched thread thousands of lines long and writing down one branch, then needing to track to a different train of thought because some large part of that conversation didn’t happen to write on another can be either jarring or a relief, depending.
When I write; as in, for a session of good writing, I like to get a couple thousand lines of work done. Whether that ends up being an entire section, a label’s worth, or just one track down a branch that splits several times is impossible to know beforehand. Needing to mix in coding with writing a lot in a session slows me down. Just writing, or just coding, is easier than mixing them because the flow is choppier when combined.
Another thing is- I’m -still- learning, when it comes to what I can do to improve my writing. On the side of coding, or organization, or writing itself. Sometimes I make mistakes or experiment with things that end up not being the good ideas they seem. Other times, there are things I wish I could implement to change what I already have because it would help things going forward so much. Also, each story as I’ve said, is going to have a unique and distinct ‘feel’ when it comes to branching, and the style in writing it. Monsters is quite haphazard, in a certain sense. I’d set it up differently nowadays, if I could. Though I’m not quite sure how I’d adjust. Writing on any part of it, though, is a labor of love. Being in the moment with the story- that’s a good feeling.