I was not the first to have this idea. In fact, Jen Kirchner is doing a version of “Choose Your Own Adventure” right now! And several other writer friends have mentioned the idea for the blogosphere.
The “Choose Your Own Adventure” books that were so popular in the early 80’s would work perfectly in electronic format. Although I have fond memories of waiting in a very long line for “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” at Walt Disney World while my cousin read the books aloud, it would be far easier to click a link than to flip back and forth through a paperback.
It would also be an interesting way to get more blog traffic. Think about it… I start a page here, with something like “You have spent three seasons in the whirlwind of London’s haut ton without a single proposal of marriage, and your father, the Duke, has decided to marry you off to the son of an old friend. Though wealthy, he is a mysterious recluse…” I would then list several choices, each with a link attached. “Do you agree to the match, and hope for the best?” or “Do you beg your father for one last season to find someone, anyone else to marry you?” or “Do you steal the family silver and run off in the middle of the night to hop a steamship for America to make your own fortune?”
There should probably be some rules that help things move more smoothly. For example, we should have an Avatar that appears at the beginning of every single story part, so that a reader who is jumping through blogs knows that they are still reading part of the “Choose Your Own Romance” and not some random irrelevant page. It would be nice if clicking on this avatar/icon would always bring the reader back to the home page. It would also make sense to have something at the end that says “This section of the story follows…” and add a link to wherever the previous part of the story is, so if someone wants to follow the story backwards, they can.
A word limit would probably be appropriate, say 1,000 words, although if an author decided they loved a scene so much they wanted to make it longer, they could split it themselves, and write two or more possible continuations. With the nature of the internet, even after it is written and published and has been around for a while, another writer could jump in at any time and say “Hey, I like options 1 & 2, but I have an idea for #3! How about I write it and you can link me in too?”
Such a beast would probably benefit from being unbridled. This is the hard part for me. I am a self-proclaimed control freak and I want to read and approve and edit every post that ends up being attached! But that kind of control would more likely strangle the project. This has the possibility of going truly viral, growing exponentially into a huge monster! But I believe we’ll end up with better stories, and have more fun doing it, if people take it into their own hands and feel they have ownership in it. Each person in the chain would be responsible for checking the posts to which it links, ensuring it is neither a troll nor a spammer, and then let go. I’d love to see writers jump back in later on down the line!
From a selfish POV, if someone is looking at one particular part of the story, and they say “Hey, this writer has a way with words, I wonder if they have anything else I can read?” a reader might take a time out from the Choose Your Own Romance Line and check out the rest of the writer’s blog. From a reader’s POV, it’s fun!
Hmm… I have a relatively full plate at the moment, but I think I’m going to do this! Check back next week. I’ll let you know. I’ll be looking for participants!
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