Advice for Interactive Fiction N00bs (like me)

Felicity Banks 8 years ago updated by Faustino Reyna 6 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).


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.)


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! :)


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 :)


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

I'm enjoying it to