As readers of my perverted series of comedy fantasy novels, the Rampant Damsels range, will know, I always like to indulge myself by including one chapter which is formatted as a ‘choose your own adventure’ escapade, allowing the reader to steer their own course through a section of the story, using their ingenuity to select a path through the atrocities and depravities secreted within the numbered paragraphs.
So far, readers have plundered a dungeon to battle the Demon Lord at its heart; attempted to rescue a kidnapped Elf-maid (who had no intention of being rescued until she’d succeeded in seducing her hunky kidnapper); tried to get laid in a brothel (considerably more difficult than it sounds, apparently); guided a vicious, foul-tempered old codger through a desert; tried to find a way back to their home reality from a multi-dimensional nightmare.
I am currently writing the sixth book in the series, Starship Damsels, which features the alternate universe sci-fi alter-egos of the usual characters (first introduced in book #5, Damsels and the Dark Arts). I’m half way through the book, the ship has crashed on an artificial planet made of space junk, the crew are scattered and must find each other and effect repairs and … it seems like a good candidate for this title’s ‘choose your own …’ entry to me!
In the past, I have always painstakingly flowcharted the adventure before beginning, then I’ve numbered all the options, then written the numbered sections, then reallocated the numbers, then gone through and changed all the links to match the new numbers, then playtested thoroughly to make sure I haven’t missed or mistyped a link … You get the picture. It’s a lot of work, even for a single chapter length adventure, with less than a hundred options.
But now I’ve discovered The Gamebook Authoring Tool. It’s a great piece of software that allows me to simply start typing. Every time the path splits and there are multiple choices, it generates the new locations, allots them numbers, displays them on a detailed flowchart and labels them with the text of the choice that leads there (which is adjustable if desired to provide a better memory prompt). All I need to do is write the damn story, with all of its meanderings as the whim takes me. I can see at a glance where everything separates and comes back together, it’s obvious which threads I’ve left hanging and need to go back to. And best of all, when I’ve finished, it will randomly reassign all the numbers (except those I assign as start and finish, and any other specifically designated as immovable by me) as many times as I want till I’m satisfied, updating all links to match automatically. It then generates a text file in one of several formats, which I can paste into my manuscript and format to suit. All of that fiddly nonsense gone and dealt with, all I have to do is write!
This is so amazing, so time-saving, and if your gamebook comes in at less than 100 numbered references, it’s even free! To date, all of the Damsels chapters have been less than 100, this one may be too (though maybe not; I notice I’m producing a lot more material since I don’t have to chart and track it all by hand!) But I’m going to pay for the Pro version with my next pay anyway. It’s pretty cheap, only £39, and it’s quite simply a piece of software that I’m pleased to pay for and support.
If you write this kind of thing, give it a go. You won’t be disappointed.