Did anyone else read those Choose Your Own Adventure stories when they were kids? I don’t actually remember the contents of any that I read (though I think a couple were Nancy Drew books – I went through a Nancy Drew phase), but I remember being disappointed in them. Mostly, I think it was simply that I wanted more story. When you have to fit multiple different potential stories within the same page real estate that would normally hold only one, things necessarily get a little truncated.
It makes me wonder if there’s any way to make a CYOA story work better. Obviously, an author could just write several full-length stories, but the book required to hold them would be quite the tome. It might frighten off potential readers. And there’s no way around that, not in print – but we’ve been developing other formats lately. The most obvious is ebooks. It’s hard to be intimidated by the size of a book when you can’t see how thick it is or feel the weight of it in your hands. In ebooks you can even put in links to the exact place readers need to continue the story, so they don’t have to flip through looking for the page. (Not that flipping through and looking for a page is such a terrible hardship, but being able to go straight there is still a nice little perk.) In a similar vein, there are some neat possibilities in browsers and apps. Radioactive Zombie Marie Curie, for example, isn’t quite a CYOA story, but it’s interesting and the format shows potential.
It also makes me realize that CYOA stories might work better as short stories rather than novels, at least in some cases. Then again, the stories I read as a child certainly weren’t novel-length individually. Novella, maybe. On the other hand, they were packaged just like novels, so I expected a novel, and was roundly disappointed not to get one. So part of the difficulty might just be managing expectations – which, again, seems like it would be easier in some sort of electronic format.
I haven’t read a CYOA story in a very long time, but despite my childhood disappointment with them, I really like the idea of them. Has anyone encountered any they can recommend?