Have any of you ever thought about writing an adventure gamebook but don't know where to begin? Writing a gamebook certainly requires some skills not needed when writing an ordinary book.
Today I am continuing my series called "Gamebook Writing 101". My plan is to share some of my experiences and ideas concerning gamebook writing with the hope that these articles are of benefit to you. I also invite discussion (via the commenting section) about each article I write, so we can hear thoughts from other writers as well.
Today, I will continue with the topic I started a few weeks ago - Page numbers (Part 3). For those of you who have not read Part 1 or 2, I advise you to read those articles first before starting this one. The link for those articles are here:
http://jumpsterhopper.blogspot.com/2010/08/gamebook-writing-101-page-numbers-part.html (Part 1)
http://jumpsterhopper.blogspot.com/2010/08/gamebook-writing-101-page-numbers-part_17.html (Part 2)
ALLOCATING RANDOM PAGE NUMBERS - Tools to use:
When using any random page number allocation method, there are a number of ways to allocate (and record) your random page numbers. I will list (and explain) some of these below. Some are methods that I have used over the years, some are methods that have been suggested by others.
1) RECORDING - EXCEL SPREADSHEET
This is more to do with the recording of the random numbers used than the allocation of them. This helps prevent you from re-using an already used page number. It can also give you a quick visual representation of which pages you have used and not used, at a glance.
Each spreadsheet row represents a page number in the book. As an excel spreadsheet can contain an extreme number of rows, you only need the one excel sheet to track an entire book.
Some other benefits of this visual tracking system are as follows:
1) Gamebooks can often contain pages where, in order for the reader to continue, they are required to add or deduct a particular number from the page number they are reading at the time and then turn to the page number resulting from the calculation. For example -
You place the gold key in your backpack.
If at any stage during your adventure, you come across a situation where you wish to try the gold key in a lock, add 10 to the page number you are reading at the time and turn to the new page number. You will be immediately told if the key fits in the lock.
As you continue to write your story, once you know you are about to write the page in the story where the reader will be able to try the gold key in the lock that it was intended for (i.e. It will work.) you can quickly look at your excel chart and determine what pages are available for you to chose from.
Again, using the above example (and the screenshot of the excel spreadsheet) -
You try the solid oak door. The handle turns, but the door does not open. It is locked. Dejected, you decide to turn around and head back the way you came.
Turn to page 28.
There is a hidden option here for the reader to try the gold key in the lock. To do so, 10 must be added to the current page. At the moment, a page number has not been allocated. If you look at the excel spreadsheet, you can quickly determine, from the number of white cells available (unused pages) that you will be unable to allocate the following page numbers to the page just written:
2, 8, 11, 13, 16, 17, 22, 24, 25, 29 and 30. (Note this adventure is a 30 page adventure).
Pages 22-30 cannot be used for obvious reasons, because the story only has 30 pages, adding 10 to any of these numbers will exceed the page limit of 30.
Pages 2, 8, 11, 13, 16 and 17 cannot be used as adding 10 to those numbers lead you to cells in the spreadsheet that are already filled in (used). This is where this visual method of recording really helps.
As it turns out, the only page numbers available to use for the above page are:
3, 14, 19 or 20.
2) If you wish, you can colour code your filled boxes to represent other parts of the story you are writing:
a) Endings; and
b) Combat situations
Again, by a quick look at the chart, you can see it contains two scenes (pages) where the main character has to engage in combat with an enemy of some sort (page 5 and page 18). If you wanted to include even more detail, you could type the name of the enemy in the cell itself, so you can keep track of the variety of enemies you have included in your story.
So far, you can also count that the story has three endings (pages 12, 23 and 27).
You can see that there is scope to include even more information in a chart like this, whatever you think will be of benefit to you.
I will continue with the explanation of other tools in part 4 of this article. It is turning out to be a much longer series than I originally thought, which, I guess, is a good thing as it gives you all more information to read and digest.
Until next time,