CYOA? No, not "cover your own arse," but "choose your own adventure!" This style of book is also called a "gamebook." In a CYOA book, the story is interspersed with decision points, and you choose what the main character does and where the story goes next.
A branching novel was described in 1941 by Jorge Luis Borges, the famous author from Argentina. In his short story "An Examination of the Work of Herbert Quain," he describes a novel written by fictional character Quain that has two branching points and nine possible endings. Although the esteemed author Borges never himself wrote such a novel, others eventually did, twenty years later, in the 1960s.
In the past, they've been mostly Fantasy, Mystery, Science Fiction, and Superhero stories, and occasionally, they've delved into Romance.
One particular example I found was the 1983 gamebook by Jeannie Black called Ring of the Dragon, published by TSR, the people who brought us Dungeons & Dragons. It's about Chandell who must choose between Coren and Sir Toreck, each of whom takes the story in a different direction. You can learn more at the GoodReads page for this book.
Yeah, but branching romance? Why would I want to choose my own romance?
For three very good reasons.
- It's fun. It's like playing a game, and you get to control where the story goes. The sense of anticipation is increased because the story becomes far less predictable. It relies on your input to tell it where to go. With multiple possible endings, you can never know exactly which one you'll get based on the choices you make.
- The story becomes more personal. You have the heroine's life and happiness in your hands. You become the heroine's advisor, guiding her on her journey as she searches for true love or for an eye-opening sexual adventure. Your choices become her choices, and thus, her choices are the choices you would or wish you could make yourself—if you were in her shoes.
- One story becomes many. In the games industry, we call this replayability. It's the ability to reread the book, make different choices, and come to a variant ending. Once you arrive at an ending, you can start all over again and travel down a different path. Wouldn't it be great if we could do that in real life as well?
And, if you're a writer, I can tell you that it's not only a great writing challenge, but great fun, exploring various possible outcomes for your story. You will learn more about your characters than you ever thought was possible. My publisher, Silkwords, publishes CYOR (choose your own romance) stories in two formats. The one described above, and another, known as Reader Vote stories. These stories are written up to the first turning point. Then, it's put to a vote to decide how the story will progress. My book, "Illegal Lane Change," is a Reader Vote story.
If you visit Silkwords.com, you too can help decide how the story will unfold!
Illegal Lane Change
Angel Leigh McCoy
Cover Artist: Indie Designz
Chicago lawyer, Adele London, has worked hard to get where she is, but when her misogynist boss makes it clear she won't be allowed to excel, she decides she needs a change. With the help of her best friend Karen, Adele considers her options, and only one solution keeps rising to the top: the radical one. It will require that Adele forego societal conventions and stretch into new territory. Once she commits, there's no going back! The time has come for her to make an illegal lane change.
Reader Vote Story at www.silkwords.com
Installment 1: November 29
Installment 2: December 20
Installment 3: January 10
Installment 4: January 31
About the Author:
Angel Leigh McCoy writes short fiction, publishes a magazine, edits anthologies, and serves as the Horror Writers Association’s bumbling webmaster. Among her babies is the podcast at WilyWriters.com, the DEEP CUTS anthology, AnotherDimension Magazine, and bytes of her own fiction scattered here and there in the world. She’s employed as a narrative designer at ArenaNet, spinning the Living World yarn of Guild Wars 2.
In her spare time, she’s the mastermind behind the indie game projects at Games Omniverse. She began her career designing story and gameplay for White Wolf, Wizards of the Coast, FASA, and other RPG companies. At Xbox.com, she was the game reviewer known as Wireless Angel. Angel shares a padded cave with Boo, Simon, and Lapis Lazuli (kitties) in Seattle, where the long, dark winters feed her penchant for all things spooky and cozy. SFWA and HWA pro member.
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/angelmccoy (@angelmccoy)
December 8 Interview
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Underneath the Covers
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Deal Sharing Aunt
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Author Karen Swart
December 15 Guest blog
December 15 Spotlight
The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom
SilkWords is the go-to source for interactive romance and erotic fiction.
With gorgeous custom covers and a clean, sophisticated design, the SilkWords site offers a secure, upscale reading environment. In addition to content on their web site, they offer stories for purchase in the standard e-book formats.
SilkWords is owned and operated by a full-time mom with a background in genetics and an RWA RITA-nominated, multi-published sci-fi romance author.
Their technology guy and site designer was the founder of Microsoft Xbox Live.
SilkWords features two formats that allow readers to choose how the stories will proceed.
Pick Your Path:
Will she or won't she? With which man (or woman) in which location? With Pick Your Path romance, you decide. Romance and branched fiction are made for each other, like picking your favorite flavor of ice cream...positions, partners, and paraphernalia, oh my!
Readers vote at choice points and decide how the story will continue. These stories are a great way for readers and authors to connect. It’s exciting to be part of a developing story!