Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Choose Your Pleasure Experience

There’s always that one story you wish had ended differently and an alternate decision or direction you think your favorite character could have taken. These are the stories that eat away at the mind, living on in the imagination, the possibilities begging to be explored. And they can be. 

While writing The Dragon’s Gift, I originally planned a very dark ending. In order to please my then-publisher, I curbed my ending to something entirely different from what I had in mind to fall within their guidelines. As I thought over this experience, I realized my story could have ended in any number of ways. Not only could they, but they should have. This was when I decided to expand upon my original plot, throwing myself full on into my first Choose Your Pleasure style book.

This was an experiment in where I learned many things.
1) Multiple plots means multiple stories
2) It would be more challenging than I anticipated
3) You can get sued for using trademarks like "Choose Your Own Adventure" and it's best to google/check online that your title/idea isn't the property of someone else.

While writing Choose Your Pleasure: The Dragon’s Gift, A Lesbian Tale, I ran into some challenges. 

The first thing I struggled with was maintaining a good balance of possibilities. Classic CYOA books have happily ever afters, happy for nows, death endings, unhappy endings, and runarounds where multiple plot lines converge. The story twists and turns in the second person point of view and literally sucks the reader in. The advantage to this is that the reader (to the extent of the author’s imagination) is responsible for their own destiny, and if unhappy with the outcome, can go back and explore a new pathway. There’s never a reason to put the book down or cast it aside because it’s disliked. After exploring the outcomes I originally wished to have happen for my story, I had to go back through and determine how I could also include the classic plotlines that were missing. This proved difficult for me as an author due to my complete lack of ability to outline. I’ve always struggled at planning ahead on paper or on the computer. My stories are usually organic, growing inside my head and transferring to the keyboard at the pace of thought. But my traditional writing ways weren’t good enough for this project. I had to plot ahead. A lot.

Another problem I ran into were plotlines that didn’t go anywhere or ran in circles. It’s true that traditional CYOA books allow for such things, but too much runaround irritates the reader. To avoid this, new plot lines have to be created, which produces additional story threads at an exponential rate. Too many directions become impossible to keep track of no matter what system you’re using. As a result, some endings are more abrupt than others. Still, this happened in the classic tales as well.

Although challenging and requiring significant time to create, I can honestly say that I’m satisfied with the outcome. The best part of this project was being able to delve into a story and explore all the possibilities that my creativity desired. I was even forced to create options I never foresaw in order to complete the book. I enjoyed the experience enough to desire writing another one. I always look forward to discovering new ways to write a story and improve upon my craft.

You can find my Choose Your Pleasure: The Dragon's Gift, A Lesbian Tale, on Radish Fiction as of October 11th 2017 (where many chapters are available for free, or on Amazon mid November 2017)

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