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How to Write Good Choose Your Own Adventure Choices
1. Opposites as Choose Your Own Adventure Choices
2. Urgency in Choose Your Own Adventure Choices

There are no rules on what makes a good Choose Your Own Adventure choice, other than the fact that you should have lots of them.  In place of actual rules, I offer my opinions on what makes choices engaging and interesting in this series called, “How to Write Good Choose Your Own Adventure Choices”. Doesn’t roll off the tongue, but it’ll have to do.

Post 1, the post you are reading right now, is all about how opposites serve as a good starting point for interactive fiction choices.

A Choose Your Own Adventure Choice should not be arbitrary.  Sometimes they have to be, I understand that, but in general, a choice should present a level of conflict. “Do you choose the left door or the right door?”, is an arbitrary choice. There is nothing about the doors that presents a struggle of thought.  Introducing conflict through opposites can engage readers by hinting that there might be meaning in the opposing descriptions.  “Do you choose the left door with the ice cold door knob or the right door with the door knob hot as fire?”. It’s just an example, but some of you, even in this example, wondered if the hot door knob was too hot to touch. “Will it burn my hand?” “Did the author know I wouldn’t pick it because I thought it would and therefore I should anyway?”.

Conflict through opposites creates engagement of thought and that is one of the many wonderful things about Choose Your Own Adventure or Pages or Peril style books. Here is an inexhaustive list on how opposites could be employed in choice blocks:

Word A

Word B

Example

Traveled

Less Traveled

The traveled path is wide and easy to follow which also makes it the preferred path for bandits to hide on. The less travled path is barely visible in some spots, you may get lost but you probably won't get robbed.

Wide

Narrow

The wide waterway is plenty deep for your boat but maybe full of sea creatures, the narrow waterway is to shallow for dangerous creatures but you may get stuck.

Absence

Presence 

There is a concerning smell present around the brown box, but the gold box is absent of any smell at all which is equally concerning.

Active

Lazy

The active horse will get you their quickly if it doesn;t buck you off, the lazy horse will take a long time but it'll be a comfortable ride.

Complex

Simple

You can try to solve the complex puzzle which may have a timer but bigger reward or you can solve the simple puzzle but rish not getting anything worth while.

Before

After

You can go before the sun comes up or wait and go after there is plenty of light.

Lead

Follow

You can lead and be sure choices are honorable althought you don't know very much, or you can follow the current leader who knows more but might be evil.

Ancient

Modern

The ancient painting could be worth a lot, but could be a fake. The modern one is real but might not be worth anything.

Answer

Ask

Answer thier questions but risk giving away too much information. Ask a question in reply but risk making your interrogators angry.

Attack

Defend

Make a suprise attack against the pirates while they are at sea. Make a well planned defense at the port before the pirates arrive.

Cheap

Expensive

Wear the cheap disguise that's easy to move around in but may not be convincing. Wear an expensive disguise that hard to move around in but is very convincing. 

Aaron Robbins

Greetings! I'm Aaron Robbins, or one of them anyway. I write interactive fiction for adventurers of all ages. Hear me compete against my daughter in first reads of Choose Your Own Adventure style books on the podcast Pages of Peril.