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Advice for Interactive Fiction N00bs (like me)

Felicity Banks 4 years ago updated by Faustino Reyna 3 years ago 13

A lot of us have only started writing and/or reading IF this year. What epiphanies have we/you had about the storytelling techniques that are unique to IF?

I'll start: I've found (via other people's comments) that point-and-click IF often has a kind of rhythm to it. There's a reasonably similar amount of time between each interactive moment. In IF, that's considered a good thing.


Coming from the world of novel-writing, I've been taught to deliberately vary things like paragraph length in order to keep the reader on their toes. Being consistent in timing (for IF) feels more like essay-writing (which actually is something I also really enjoy).

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It's an obvious point, but worth saying: if you're going to have a choice that doesn't actually branch the plot (i.e. it merges back in straight away) then most of the time you should still reward the player for their choice by giving a line or two of unique text. The player will feel like their selections matter, and it means they're rewarded even more on a replay.

100% with Joey's point. Extra Credits did a great video on that, about negative possibility space, which can be found here. They also did a great series on choice in video games, which can 100% be applied to IFs, found here (check out "The Illusion of Choice", especially relevant here). In case you were wondering, each video is ~5-7 minutes long.

And I found your point about IF rhythm very interesting, especially in Sequel, where we are able to put timers between choices and dialogue. I've been developing my own IFs for ~1 year, and was involved in the creation of an English visual novel 2 years back, Monster Uses CPU 2. Thinking of IF writing as essay writing . . . I've never made that connection before, but that really makes sense. I usually see my IF as short stories, but you've really got me thinking. Thank you. :)

I think there's a forced rhythm in Sequel stories, which have to be broken up because of the size of a phone screen.

So I think it works better to have a more elegant rhythm, like a symphony rather than an essay, where "long" is only perhaps three sentences. Something like, "short-click-short-short-click-medium-short-short-click-short-long-click" and then at the climax you can built to "short-short-click-short-click-short-click-short-shortdelay-short-click"


Or whatever. I strongly doubt my own story reflects this. It's all just thoughts :)

Oh! That is definitely true. I wonder if people will experience the story differently because of the size of their screens . . .

And seeing the story as a clickable-symphony (can I call it that) is awesome!

We should make sure each day has a significant amount of content. It would be so annoying to have a day with just a bit of what felt like pointless filler with maybe a pic or two when the rest is super long and exciting and dramatic.

(Glances at own story, swears.)

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Agreed. That's what I'm trying to do for my story, and whether that content is drama or personal moments, I don't want to put filler.

Ah, please don't swear at your story! I'm sure it's a sight to behold! :)

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based on what you've done Felicity it's hard to label you a n00b

Thank you! Even if the phrase "based on what you've done Felicity" had me instinctively running for the hills.

well I'm from Sweden so my English is a bit forced, but maybe better to start with something that startles people and then calm them with a nice ending :)

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FWIW, Felicity, I'm enjoying Enchanted so far! :)