Another Collaborative CYOA

Found another way people are collaborating and sharing new cyoa's. iStory uses Google App ability to share a doc, but also has elements of popularity and quality control. From ridiculous to mundane there's all different kinds of stories here. It's not a very active site in terms of new content, but the coolest feature is that their software, Story Forge, creates an iphone version. It's also graphically friendly.

Here's another downloadable cyoa game back from the day: Romance in the Caribbean!

See also January's Infinite Story and March's cyoa Wiki.


Choice Envy

I thought I was being pretty cool in Becca by giving four layers of choices (16 endings). When I wanted to go all daring with an opening triple choice with Lauren, I lowered it to three layers (12 endings). Then in Charlotte I got wonky and abandoned symmetrical choice patterns for whatever I could stuff in, but it still ended up no deeper than four layers (11 endings).

I'm a total lightweight! Take a gander at this analysis. You need to go there because it's interactive. First of all, it is so cool a fan mapped this out, even if it was for English class. (There's also a matching essay.) Second of all, this is what it takes to go from 11 rather character-driven endings to 40 plot-driven ones. I really, really, really want to write something this insane. Just to see if I can.

The last cool thing about Mr. Lord's work is a categorization of the choices. I wrote about my own choice categories back in January. My list of choice types is mostly the same.



If you've read any nonfiction ebooks, you've likely seen a hyperlinked Table of Contents. For my books, I created an Index, because a reader compellingly argued that a Table of  Contents would be too spoilerish. She wasn't happy with the Index either, and wanted the choices to be listed numerically. She didn't want any hints of the action happening elsewhere. In the end, that was too unwieldy so I created a rather opaque index. In Charlotte, it worked out that each choice came in a unique setting, so the Index isn't revealing at all.

The other books have more tantalizing links like "In the Water With Luke." Another reader told me she liked the Index, because it spurred her to read on past a scenario that had lost her interest. You need to keep in mind that when you hover over any hyperlink, the bookmark's name appears in a popup. So if you're being as mindful as I'm trying to be about spoilers, you have to name the bookmarks carefully. I suspect there's something to help me with the tic box "hidden bookmarks" but when I mark the box, the popups still appear so I don't get that functionality yet.

Also, hyperlink every "The End" to the index header. I haven't found the need to bookmark the actual endings, but if you wanted to review them quickly, that's what you'd need to do. I certainly don't want to add the endings to the index itself, allowing readers to just jump straight there out of curiousity. By linking the endings to the index as a whole, you're allowing the reader to quickly go back and try other choices, rather than forcing them to scan or reread.

Someone has pointed out to me that anyone who tries to print my book will be lost, unable to jump from choice to chapter without page numbers. I'm thinking about it, but really, if I'm creating a work meant for ereading, I'm not sure I need to hold myself to print consumers. Thoughts?


How to Create a Link in MS Word

So let's say you'd like to play in this genre. You've got Word. You've got your plotted outline with tricksy and varied endings.

First, you can go old skool and just type If you want to go to the beach, turn to page X. Make a list of which pages you've got your choices on. I recommend highlighting the choices or leaving comment stickies on them to find them easier on a scan of the ms, as well. Be sure to use "Insert Page Break" after each choice. After you finish writing out all the chapters/endings, cut and paste to mix them up. Fill in the final page numbers when you're done.

Second, you'd be crazy to do it the first way because technology is your Friend. Using the new Word, go to the Insert tab. In the center there's a box that says "Links." Your new best buddies are "Hyperlink" and "Bookmark."

A bookmark is an anchor on a specific spot in the ms. Put your cursor where you want it, name it, and click "Add." From now on you'll have a "Go To" button in the bookmark pop up. This takes the place of a page list of highlighted choices that you are searching for by hand! You need to create uniquely named bookmarks for the beginning of every chapter and at every choice. Jot these names on your outline as you create them. I usually bookmark a paragraph before the choice so that when readers jump there, they have some context.

A hyperlink in word is the same as on the net. It's underlined text the reader can click, jumping them to another bookmark. You have the ability to embed internet links in a word doc, and current ebook apps are playing with this. I think the potential for historicals in particular is huge. Hyperlink something like cloche and send the interested reader to a visual glossary.

Anyhoo, when you open the hyperlink window, there is a left sidebar of "link to" choices. Click on "Place in this Document." Now you will see the bookmarks you've made in the center pane. Having highlighted the text you want to read as the link, you choose the right bookmark. My personal preference is not to hyperlink an entire sentence, just a phrase or even a key word. When I get to a choice, I first bookmark it, then jump to a new place in the manuscript, create a fresh page break, type out even a place holder first line for the new chapter, and bookmark it immediately. Using Go To I jump back to the bookmark of the choice and hyperlink it right away. This saves a lot of bouncing back and forth later.

The last step is to create an index, which will be tomorrow's post.

I have had issues with my bookmarks disappearing, and I don't know what I do wrong. I always end up testing every single link before I send it to a beta reader. I also am not sure why sometimes Going To a bookmark justifies the exact mark to the top of the page, and sometimes puts it about an inch down, not quite centering it.

Thoughts on improving my linking process are welcome!