This is the fourth and final chapter of my three-part series on story writing. (If that sounds confusing, let’s just say that I should have planned my blog posts better.) The content herein does not list all the techniques that I use when creating interactive stories. Nevertheless, there is enough material in this series to set aspiring writers on the path.
Everything that I’ve written in this series of blog posts counts as suggestions. If my techniques don’t work for you, ditch them and try something else. Those who are serious about writing may want to buy books on how to craft fiction. Although most books on this topic deal with writing non-interactive fiction such as novels and screenplays, much of the material therein is applicable to interactive fiction as well.
It helps to read a lot of fiction with an eye toward studying what the authors did that makes their work effective. Even if you aspire to write exclusively in the science fiction or fantasy genre, include a lot of mainstream fiction in your diet of books. My favorite novels include Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, Life of Pi by Yann Martel, Shella by Andrew Vachss, The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt (not to be confused with the movie of the same name), and Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (a surprisingly brutal novel from a 19th century country girl). In the fantasy and science fiction genre, my favorite books include Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Doubtless, you’ll have your own list of favorite books. One can learn much by studying the works of the writers you admire.
Reading will not get aspiring writers anywhere unless they set themselves working on their own fiction. Don’t worry if your first stories are amateurish. Even the masters started with baby steps on their path to greatness. They got better with practice, and you can too. So dust off your favorite game toolset and start making the interactive stories that you’ve been wanting to write.