I wrote last week about writing a Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) story, and i talked about some of the different options that exist FREE online to help you to organise and write your own.
If you’ve ever thought about writing one and wondered how you be able to manage all the different options and choices or how you would keep a track of where you are, this kind of software is crucial in that regard.
Today I want to introduce you to the software that I used to create my first CYOA story, Reproductive Cycle.
Aside from being a fun exercise, my reasoning for writing this was purely to promote my other fiction, my website and my newsletter signup page. I’ll go in to that a bit later, but first I want to help you write your own adventure.
The software I used is FREE and is browser based, so there is no need to download anything. You will not need a super-computer to run it, and it is relatively easy to pick up and play with straight away. The software s called Storyboard and you can access it at:
The first thing you will need to do when you click on the site is to create an account. All you need is an email address and a password. Once you are signed in, you will be taken to a page where you can name your story and give it a brief description. Once that’s all taken care of, it’s on to the exciting stuff.
This is the image you are greeted with. Any of the text you can see here can be edited. The boxes in the upper left are self explanatory; when you need to add a new choice or another ‘scene’, click the ‘add scene’ box, and a new box will appear on the screen for you to edit and connect to other scenes.
But for now, you can see that from the start, you are faced with 2 choices for the reader to choose between, both of which can be edited:
When you click the ‘start’ box, it will bring you up a pop up box like the one above. In the body of the text you can write whatever descriptive text you like, for example this box could be some initial info leading up to the first decision for the reader. The boxes below are for you to write your choices in. In the example above, I have imagined that the reader is in a corridor, with 2 ways to turn. Simply write the choice in and hit enter. This will create a new blank option box, meaning you can have as many choices available as you want.
Create a New Scene
You can see above how it looks when you type your choices in. In the example above, I have created another scene. I imagined that at the end of the corridor is a door that you will need to get through. By clicking on the little dots on the ‘you turn left’ and ‘you turn right’ boxes, you can drag them to connect to the new scene you have just created.
Next I imagined that the door has a passcode and the reader can only go through it if he has the code. Now in my story, I have put the passcode on a scrap of paper that can only be found if the reader takes the left turn.
With this software, you can add a criteria to a particular choice that is applied when a certain decision is taken, in this case, when you move to the left corridor, the reader is given a marker called ‘Code’ to signify that they have picked up the passcode. Putting it into your story looks like this:
You will see from the name of the scene, that the reader has turned left, and the description explains that they have discovered the scrap of paper with the passcode. Under choices, when the reader clicks to move on from this scene, they will have a modifier applied called ‘Code’. To enter this, simply click the tiny arrow just to the right of the choice and enter the modifier name of you choice. This will be important because we will need that passcode in the next scene. This modifier does not have to be an object; it can be a state or a condition. e.g. is Person A with the reader? Has too much time elapsed for something else to happen later in the story? You can add a modifier of ‘Person A’ or ‘Time’ to denote if either of these things are true.
Using Your Object
So now you’ve either gone left and picked up the code, or gone right and missed it (no modifier added to the right corridor choice), and you have arrived at the door. How do you know if your character can go through it or not?
This is handled by the options available when you click the little arrow to the right of the choices. using the ‘Show if’ option will give you the chance to say which modifier must be in effect, in this case ‘Code.’ So in this example, the option to use the passcode will only be shown when the character has picked up the passcode.
The other choice is the ‘show unless’ option. In this case I have again chosen the modifier ‘Code.’ This means that this option will always be visible to the reader UNLESS they have picked up the code, in which case it will not be visible, and the choice they will see will be the other one.
You can have as many modifiers as you like in your story and they can be used multiple times to trigger multiple choices, for example, the passcode you found could be used to open multiple doors in this story.
So, armed with your passcode, your character can pass through the door to the final scene. Again I have added a new scene and connected it to the choice that would trigger it.
But what if you didn’t pick up the code? Well that’s where your imagination comes in. Do they need to look for another route? Are they trapped with the baddie behind them? Or do they just, as in my example, turn around and take the other corridor?
You will see a line passing behind the box and returning to the ‘You turn left’ box. It does connect to the other choice, it’s just hidden behind the scene box. This is an easy way to resolve these choices and enables you to reuse chunks of scenes that you have already written. When you go back to the left corridor, you will find the passcode and will be able to pass through the door.
In this short example, this is the final scene, and it is displayed in red on the map of scenes. This just means that there are no choices leading away from this box, making it the end of the story. There is no reason why it has to be the only conclusion. There should be several endings, some good, some not so good.
That’s it! You’ve created your own CYOA story! To share it with others, click ‘Play’ at the top of the screen and copy the address in the address bar. That’s what people will need to play your adventure.
The only negative I’ve had from my testers, is that it is not optimised for mobile, although it can be played that way, but for a free bit of software, I can’t complain!
Using it for promotion
I have no intentions of charging anyone for any CYOA stories I write, I would prefer to use it as a magnet to get people to my books / website / signup page. At the moment I have done this by putting more information about me and my work along with appropriate links in all of the conclusion scenes in my story, that way, whatever ending you get, you will be pointed back to my work / signup.
At the moment, my story is bare bones, just to make sure the connections all work. More description will be added later.
My question to you: Did you play through the story? If you find any obvious errors or dead ends, please let me know below.