One Choice Only

While writing Switching Plans, I intentionally made some pages in the digital version “one choice only” pages. More often than not this was to either (a) indicate a scene transition or (b) keep from having to repeat the same scene a million times. For item (b) that was usually the “Mistress Sasha final scene” path, which is pretty long. However, when you have more than 20 scenes in a book, it really helps to give the reader a way to clear their palate and move onto the next scene.

As I noted last week, when I went through the first printed draft of the book while actually holding it in my hands, I realized there were way too many “one choice only” pages. Like, hundreds of them. This was because I had to reduce the printed copy from 1300 pages to 665 pages — which is still a lot, I know, but is at least manageable. (The longest physical book I’ve ever read is Anathem by Neal Stephenson, at just about 1000 pages.) So I went back to the drawing board, pulling in a fresh copy of the ebook and editing it again.

I managed to get it down to 647 total pages — about 640 pages of content, plus front and end matter. Then I counted the “one choice only” pages. There were 59 of them, out of 183 total “pages” — about a third. Still more than I’d like, but it’s the best I can do.

Just out of curiosity, I counted the number of “one choice only” pages in the ebook. Out of 420 total “pages”, 102 of them are “one choice only”. That’s a smaller percentage (by about 8%) than in the printed book, but it’s still a lot. Something I’ll need to keep in mind when writing my next interactive novel — which, by the way, I’ve already started, but is currently on the shelf while I work on my holiday stories. I’m sure I’ll still have “one choice only” pages in it — in fact, I just counted, and there are 107 of them, out of 327 total “pages”. That… seems high. But there’s a good reason for each and every one of them, just like there are in the ebook of Switching Plans.

Oh, and if you’re interested, there are 44 of them, out of 158 “pages”, in my unfinished sci-fi interactive novel. Less than a third, more than a quarter. But again, they’re all there for a specific reason.

You tell me: would you be overly frustrated by “one choice only” pages in an interactive novel? Especially when there are so many options already? How does your opinion differ between reading an electronic interactive novel versus a printed one?

Edited to add: I had to completely redo the printed version of the book for a third time because I found 25 orphaned pages — pages that had no way to get to them. I spent two days working on it — two very frustrating days — but I came out on top in the end, because I managed to shrink the printed copy down to 515 pages without losing almost any spankings. There are four orphaned pages still left in there, but I’m not renumbering 400 additional pages just to fix them. If you can find them, mazel tov. Oh, and in the 515-page version, there are 18 endings, 56 one-choice “pages” (about 28 percent), and 197 total “pages”. I think that’s pretty good for two days’ work.

(My renumbering worksheet from the third — and unfortunately not final — redo of the printed version of Switching Plans. Yellow lines are endings and orange lines are one-choice pages.)

Edited again: Well, fuck. I thought the above version would solve the problem, but I somehow screwed it up even worse. So now I’m about to start on my fourth run-through of the printed version. Ever wonder how authors get sick of their books? This is how authors get sick of their books. Oh, and of the 193 “pages” in the (hopefully) final version, 63 (33 percent) are single-choice pages, and there are 18 endings. On the bright side, I’m about 99 percent sure there are no orphans.

2 thoughts on “One Choice Only

  1. “Would you be overly frustrated by “one choice only” pages in an interactive novel? Especially when there are so many options already?”

    I don’t think so. There’s plenty of material. It’s going to come out great.


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