How to Write Interactive Stories
Whether you love to write because you have a story you need to tell, you crave the attention of fans or you want to make money off your skills, you’ll want to learn more about interactive storytelling.
Although it’s been possible to write interactive stories for video games for decades, actually creating the video games requires large teams of people to code, design, and market the games. This has kept game writing out of the reach of most writers, especially those who just want to focus on what they love most – writing.
Fortunately, new tools are appearing that allow writers to create interactive stories as easily as you’d write a Microsoft Word document. Now that it’s possible for you to write your interactive novel, what should you keep in mind? While interactive stories have a lot in common with their linear counterparts, great interactivity does require some practice:
Choices: One of the most common mistakes first-time interactive writers make is to present choices that aren’t interesting enough. The most famous example is “You reach a fork in the road. Do you go left or right?” Players and readers want to escape into the world you create, to face challenges and feel like their choices have consequences – not decide if the protagonist should drink water or orange juice for breakfast.
Consequences are what make choices interesting. Left or right is boring – unless you’re being chased by a mobster, and only one way leads to an escape. Water or orange juice is boring – unless the protagonist is suspicious that someone might be trying to poison them. A good choice gets built up to and has a clear importance in the story.
Repercussions: Of course, not all choices have to have immediate consequences. It’s satisfying to get immediate feedback (You drink the orange juice… and gag! It was poisoned after all!) – but the best, most intricate and fulfilling interactive adventures also create long-term repercussions to your actions. Perhaps you stole from a vendor to make a quick buck – only for them to later refuse to sell you medication after you get poisoned. It’s important that distant repercussions let the player know why they happened (“The vendor, remembering that you stole from him, refuses to sell to you”), otherwise players might not realize that what’s happening is their fault!
Excited to try your hand at interactive storytelling? Then make sure to check out Expedition. We’ve built a lightweight card- and an app-based game that allows anyone to write interactive stories without worrying about messy details like coding and marketing. Our writing tool at Quests.ExpeditionGame.com takes only a few minutes to learn and requires no technical experience. Plus, starting later this month, players will be able to tip you for your stories so that you can earn money from your passion!
If you have any questions, you can reach us anytime via the contact bubble in the bottom right of the Quest Creator, or via email at Expedition@Fabricate.io. You can also follow Expedition on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit for the latest news and writing contests.