Choose your own Narrative (Cross posted from the WFG Forum)

Hey Mei, If this isn't kosher then let me know and I'll remove it

So, at some point I'm going to start a Choose Your Own Adventure story and I've run into the dilemma of deciding the particular style and tense. So below I have three two-paragraph segments written in different styles and/or tenses. What I'd like is your help in deciding what would would be more pleasing to see in a CYOA. Also, if anyone has a suggestion for a different style or tense, I'd be more than happy to post a sample in said style. On with the samples!


You are standing to the west of a white house. There is a mailbox here. As you walk around the outside of the house, you find that all of the windows and doors are boarded up. After finding no way in, you decide to follow a path into the surrounding woods.

Eventually you come across a large ravine. There is a rickety bridge here, which leads all the way across. There's also a set of stairs that look a lot safer heading to the ground. Do you take the quicker path over the bridge? Or the safer path down the stairs.


I found myself standing on the west side of a white house in front of a mailbox. After walking around the perimeter, I realized that all of the doors and windows were boarded up. Since there was no way for me to get inside, I decided to take a small path that lead into the surrounding woods.

Eventually I ran into a large ravine. There was a rickety bridge that lead all the way across. I also noticed that there was a set of stairs leading down that looked like a much safer way of getting across. So I had to wonder, take the quick way across the bridge, or the safer way down the stairs.


I'm standing on the west side of a of a white house in front of a mailbox. I realize that there's no way in as walk around. All the doors and windows are boarded up so I start down a little path that leads into the surrounding woods.

I doesn't take long, and soon I'm at the edge of a large ravine. A rickety bridge leading across swings lazily in a breeze. I look around, noticing the set of stairs that leads to the bottom of the ravine. Now I have a choice. Move quickly across the bridge, or safely down the stairs.

kawaiikune's picture


when I was a kid! I definitely prefer the first one. The rest look weird to me, and maybe I could get used to it if I read a whole book that way, but they don't appeal to me off the bat. The grammar is even a little wacky in the first one (in that it strikes me as very informal), but I like it much more than the others.

Slagar's picture


I used to love text-based games like Zork and the old HHGTG. As such, the CYOA books never really saw much love from me, since it's kind of hard to compete. With that in mind, the first paragraph reads most naturally to me. I like the feel of it. So, yeah. There you have it.

Tigger's picture

definitely the second one. I always liked the idea of CYOA's as a kid but had a hard time with the "you" aspect of it. Perhaps it's because I have a tendency to put myself in books anyways, read as if I'm actually there as a spectator (at the very least). Having the subject as "you" was always distracting and I had to try to remember that it's what I would do, not what I would choose for person X.

Blue Coyote's picture


I read those when I was young, and while the "you are here" is traditional of these types of story I always found it distracting. Like I'm being told the story instead of being a part of it. Plus it always seemed like it should be set in a Mall if it's going to open with "You are Here."
I would love to see a more original take on the whole thing and do it First person. And I like the third paragraph best(but I'm partial to past tense).

fairnymph's picture


1st. Second person perspective is best.

V's picture


It might be your word choice, but I did much better from the perspective of "the book/author is explaining the situation to me" rather than "I'm there and this is what I saw/did"

I want to meet a grue.

GreenGlass's picture


I guess I'd have to say C or A, but B and C were fun to read. If you can seperate yourself from the character the story is about, then it wouldn't matter if you were told what "you" are realizing. But I'm sure that's tricky. I like B because I imagine it to be a story "I'm" telling the grankids after it already happened. it's simply a horror if it ends badly. Blum 3

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