When I was a kid we had a handful of Goosebumps book, or at least, my older brother did. If you’re not familiar, they’re a series of children’s horror books that were brought out in the 90’s. Most of them were the usual horror adventure linear story, all except for a few that we had from the ‘Give Yourself Goosebumps’ series, these were different, choose your own adventure style books. Of course back then you could always do what I did when choosing said adventure and keep your finger in the previous page as you read the next one and then go back and read the opposite choice. I don’t actually remember if those books had a ‘good’ ending, that is one where nothing horrific ends up happening, I do remember there being a lot of horrific endings. Anyway, long story short, these were the first ‘interactive fiction’ books I really had, and were largely the only interactive fiction I had outside of video games (and even then, there weren’t that many games I had access to back then with any story depth). Producing interactive fiction like this probably hasn’t changed much since it was thought up but tools for producing it have come a ways from a big word processor document.
The reasons I’m talking about interactive fiction is because a few years ago (though it doesn’t feel like that long, time is weird) a friend of mine recommended a program to me called Twine, it’s an open-source tool for creating HTML based interactive fiction (and no, you do not need to know anything about HTML and programming to use it). It’s not going to make a visual novel out of your story but it is simple to use and pretty clean, and if you just want to get ideas on pages it’s a great starting point. While that sounds all well and good however, that’s not what I’ve been using it for. I’ve been using it in a slightly different way. In the quest to finish the Fallout 4 mod that I started (a while ago now) I’ve been slowly transferring the story across from within the mod into Twine, one of the problems the system that is used to create Fallout 4 mods has is that it’s sluggish to switch between ‘scenes’ (basically chunks of dialogue between characters) and you can have many scenes held in the quest that they belong to. Switching between quests is even slow and having all of the quests open whilst making changes is a little too risky for my liking (the modding tool, the Creation Kit, is prone to crashes if you look at it the wrong way). So I’ve come to using twine as a way to ‘play through’ the various scenes and choices that you can make during the quest.
I’ve never really thought too hard about games or interactive fiction but with Visual Novels having seemingly exploded in popularity over the past few years (even if some of them are questionable), and video games being a huge industry, that is sometimes full of quite underwhelming stories, perhaps paying more attention to interactive fiction (and attempting write some myself, even if it is for a mod) seems like it might not be the worst idea, after all, there’s always more to learn about writing a good story.