I like writing IF/CYOAs because I like to consider other possibilities of how a story could go if the protagonist did something else and sometimes take a story completely in a different direction.
To me that’s the big pro and con of writing these. I’m essentially writing multiple “novels” based on the choices I’m adding. This gives me a lot of freedom as a writer, though the downside is it takes a lot longer since you’re having to keep track of multiple “timelines” and how different events unfold based on choices. I tend to prefer writing worlds where things change regardless of what you do or don’t do. Sure you’re important since things change due to your actions, but the world also changes without you.
Though I don’t excessively mind that “con” since I like to organize everything and it makes the process fun even if it is extra work most of the time. (Lack of free time to write is always the greatest enemy!)
Honestly, I don’t think I could write a “straight up novel” now if I tried, I’ve gotten to the point where I just enjoy writing several outcomes to a situation.
As far as reading them, well unlike my great attention to detail when writing, my attention span for actually reading novels is a bit spotty most of the time. Lol.
So IF/CYOAs tend to appeal more to me, plus I’ve always been a fan of the genre since the 80s so no point in stopping now!
There are characters out there not just in books but in all sorts of media that I’d really love to see what it’d be like if I got to talk to them. Interactive novels let me experience that.
I like a few things about choose-your-own-adventures.
(1) I like how an interactive story lets you present a world’s structure and causality – basically answering all the “what if” questions that the reader might ask. What if we’d been peaceful instead of violent in that encounter? What if we had never met that character? What if we’d given into temptation instead of trying to do the right thing there? Interactive fiction has answers. I think Civilization-style games have this kind of appeal, too: how would history have been different if it were Europe that had the mountainous terrain of South America, or if China became the conquerors of Europe after inventing gunpowder?
(2) I like being able to quiz the reader about what kind of story they’re looking for. So, you want a robot story, you say. Did you want a robot rebellion story, or a robot romance, or …? It has a flavor of improv, where the reader gets to say something, and you get to say “Yes, and …”
(3) I loved the Lone Wolf books and similar gamebooks when I was young, so there’s a large nostalgia factor for me, which plays out as catering to a kind of Monty Haul gaming mentality that I sympathize with. I think Accumulating Stuff and Raising Stats is fun regardless of any other highbrow aims. I like choosing what kind of hero to be and see that play out. I like looking over a character sheet near the end of the game and seeing progress. The Lone Wolf books and friends were actually pretty linear, so it’s interesting to realize that the previous two reasons (seeing things play out differently, conversing with the reader about what type of story to have) don’t really apply to them.
(4) I like just taking the medium and seeing what weird directions it can be pushed in mechanically. The old CYOA Hyperspace had a section you could only reach by cheating and reading through the book; one of the Time Machine books could get you caught in a time loop where A says turn to B and B says turn to A; and a few books, especially gamebooks, had puzzles where you had to figure out which section number to turn to. My favorite gimmick in a gamebook was in the Cretan Chronicles, where if a section was italicized, it meant there might be some “thinking outside the box” you could do by flipping ahead 20 sections. There, either your intuition was correct, or a god punishes you for your hubris in thinking you had a good idea, and makes you go back. I admit, I haven’t done a lot of this myself, but I like making use of what’s possible in ChoiceScript to do surprising things sometimes.