In working on the sequel to Weekend Plans, I learned a lot about how to write interactive fiction (which I can’t officially call “choose your own adventure” because that’s a copyrighted term). I think I did okay with Weekend Plans itself, but the scope was smaller and there were far fewer paths that could be taken.
My main learning* was that I needed to draw a flowchart first. (Well, actually, the first thing I needed to do was come up with an idea and the major plot points.) I decided to apply what I’ve learned to my other persona — the one that writes sci-fi, fantasy, and horror — and write an interactive novel in one of those genres.
* I abhor the word “learning” (or “learnings”) as a noun, but sometimes even I have to use it.
I didn’t have access to my giant roll of paper, so I used a notebook and numbers to connect pages to other pages. I tried to write neatly (but that never goes well). I wrote several different branching paths. And, unlike my erotica, the main character dies a lot in this sci-fi book. I mean, space is dangerous, right? Even in the future.
Once I’d written the flowchart, I started working on the spreadsheet outline, using a highlighter to mark through decision points and plot points as I outlined them. When I was done, I had 158 pages planned out.
It all went… alarmingly well. It’s almost like I learned some lessons and paid them forward to myself for when I wrote my next book. I’m already 3000 words into the sci-fi interactive novel, so clearly something is going right.
Alanis Morissette was right: you live, you learn.