Choose your own

I've been meaning to try my hand at hyperfiction, interactive storytelling reminiscent of the "Choose Your Own Adventure" stories I once loved. Once upon a very long time and many versions of the Mac operating system ago, I messed around with "hypercards," a simple means of creating a stack of virtual "cards" containing information that could be linked together. This was pre-internet, and the idea of taking static pieces of information (or narrative) and creating a meta-structure of linked meaning was an early glimpse at what we now take for granted. 

Anyway, another writer in my circle created a game/story in the application Twine that gave me a sense of the possibilities (she has since taken it down for editing). The first time I played/read it, I happened down a rather short trunk of the narrative and really didn't get a strong sense of the story. The next, I went down a different branch and thought "whoa." It wasn't just that I liked the second story more, it was the sense of diversity of story lines, with entirely new narrative lines and world-building that was specific to certain outcomes. 

When you write a story like this, you have to acknowledge replays as part of the game mechanic. A strong, satisfying story might allow the reader/player to walk away after one play-through, but it doesn't tap into everything that makes a hypertext story different. Choice isn't the only unusual quality of this type of story - so is the reader's ability to manipulate and alter the flow of time by redoing their decisions. 

You think editing a single short story is a chore? Try editing your interactive story in which each revision alters facets of dependent branches of the decision tree.

Try a couple games: