Are you an Author or a Gamer? - How do you get your writing skills?

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Post by johnphoenix »

As a non writer I reflect on the famous words, " The play's the thing".

I'm a reader/game player/wannabe writer/game creator.

You can have a simple dungeon crawl or you can have a griping adventure that makes you identify with the character's plight, leading them on a roller coaster ride to the riveting end.

The later is what I want to do - but How?

I have studied Screenplay format and was shocked to learn that no great movie was ever written - it was crafted on purpose using a set of rules that were proven to make the film appeal to the audience. This same format is still used today in almost every movie you see.

I have read a lot about writing IF on the web. Mostly this is do's and don't from popular authors but they do little to really teach you how to write good stories and apply them to the IF style.

I am looking into various methods of fiction writing to try to find what works for me.

I want to know dear reader, what works for you? How did you get your writing skill?

Post by Duncan_B »

As for being an author or gamer, I don't see the two as mutually exclusive. My writing "skill," if we can call it that, comes from two places: academic study (I have a Bachelor's degree in English and am working toward and MFA in Digital Arts & New Media) and application (I write stuff fairly constantly).

Here are five steps you might take to build your skillz: Play IF. See what works for you. Practice. Experiment. Repeat.
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Post by johnphoenix »

Those are good for general guidelines and thank you for the input..

I'm hoping to see some story writing instruction that's more in depth. What techniques of fiction story writing that is proven to work well with the IF genre. I'm talking the meat and potatoes of story structure. A class on the art and writing of fiction as applied to IF if you will.

It seems in all these years no one has done that which I can find. I am currently studying science fiction and fantasy writing - after I learn the craft then I can learn to adapt that to IF.

Non writers cannot just jump in to IF no matter how well they know the tools like Adrift. I believe there needs to be a more concentrated effort on the IF community to help provide fiction story writing instruction and how it applies to IF.

Almost all the popular IF forums have a 'writing IF' or 'authoring section' but sadly equal attention to the craft of writing is not shared with the general ' How do I make the tool do such and such".

I believe if the fiction writing was concentrated on more, and we gave new members those writing tools to learn story craft with, then the same people would be able to make better use of tools like Adrift and the popularity of said tools would increase. As it is now, most If communities are only giving half the tools they really need to create an IF game.

Post by Duncan_B »

This is a piece you might be interested in reading, titled "The Craft of Adventure." It's probably in the realm of what you're looking for. "Crimes Against Mimesis" is also a classic piece of IF writing help-how-to-what-not.

You might also be interested in this satirical article about writing item descriptions.

Of course, if you want the granddaddy of IF theory recently published, you'd be looking for the IF Theory Reader, which is available here in PDF form for free.

So... I guess what I'm getting at is that I think you're wrong when you say "most If communities are only giving half the tools they really need." Being involved with the communities around these development systems are an essential part of learning the trade. In places like and ifMUD (and, occasionally, right here on the ADRIFT Forum!), we've produced a lot of discussion on the theory and craft of IF that isn't necessarily inherent in the tools used to build our work. Dare I say, there is a whole blogosphere-- online and off!-- devoted to IF craft. Just need to know where you can tune into it.

Some of the sites you might want to keep tabs on for IF discussion aside from those mentioned above include, the IFDB, IF URLs, and the Planet IF blog aggregator.

Unfortunately, ADRIFT tends to operate as something of a gated community, isolating itself from a lot of these resources. We don't get a lot of 'DRIFTers on ifMUD or other IF-related sites, which is a pity. We'd love to see more, and I've always tried to encourage ADRIFT's connections with the rest of the IF Community. Really, the links I mentioned should probably be on the ADRIFT main website page, as most of the others on it are out-of-date. These haven't changed in years, sadly...
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Post by johnphoenix »

I read the craft of adventure a week ago and found it dull, outdated and heavily opinionated. Much of it I believe was taking the reader on a journey through Mr Nelsons personal preferences. It told me nothing about how to write a story even an IF story from beginning to end.

Likewise I already have a copy of The IF Theory Reader and have been reading it nightly. I'm half way through it. It reads to me like it was written by computer geeks not professional fiction writers. So far like Craft of Adventure, It seems to discuss do's and don'ts, not teach a non writer how to write good fiction. Perhaps my opinion will change by the time I finish reading it.

I will also check out your other links.

Here's a question. How many popular I should say published fiction writers have written for IF games?

Only one that I know of that's Douglas Adams and even he had to work closely with the folks at Infocom.

Post by Duncan_B »

Thomas Disch (Amnesia), Robert Pinsky (U.S. Poet Laureate from 1997-2000, wrote Mindwheel), Adam Cadre (Ready, Okay!), Eric Mayer (also an ADRIFT author!), Aaron Reed (Blue Lacuna), Jim Munroe (makes films), Steve Meretzky (along with Dave Lebling, one of only two interactive fiction authors admitted into the Science Fiction Writers of America), Nick Montfort... do you refer to publishing only in print? Are we counting gamebooks, too? I mean, interactive fiction is fiction...

I guess my answer to you is: a lot!
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Post by DCBSupafly »

I'm a gamer. No question. The poetry I wrote in high school was AWESOME and so is my grammar but seriously.

The plight of a writer with not a lot of game and/or programming skills makes me think of Lone Wolf, or this new reincarnation I've just discovered for iOS, "Gamebooks". It's a choose your own adventure book with character stats, a simple combat system, and die rolls. In the Gamebooks version, the only stuff that differs from straight choose your own adventures is that you have to make choices about how to spend your money (on inventory items) and you can choose to initiate a skill check to improve your combat rolls. It's mostly just rolling dice arbitrarily. It's a great starting point for someone who is a writer wanting to get into make IF. It's light on the interactive and heavy on the fiction. It distills the gameplay parts down to their absolute most basic elements.
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Post by Campbell »

Duncan_B wrote:Really, the links I mentioned should probably be on the ADRIFT main website page, as most of the others on it are out-of-date. These haven't changed in years, sadly...
Any better?
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Post by johnphoenix »

Don't get me wrong. I do think there is a place for all those do's and don'ts from the IF theory material once you have a basic outline of the story - if not a fully written story.

Those IF writing tips you can use to put together your IF game but if you try to write the game before the story, just piecing it together as you go along is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle without knowing what it's supposed to look like.

So, I have acquired some fiction writing materials.


Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy

Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell

The Writer's Journey; Mythic Structure for Writers by Vogler, Christopher

How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card

Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction by Lisa Tuttle

The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy: Alchemy with words by Tom Dullemond and Darin Park

The Comic Toolbox by John Vorhaus

Comedy Writing Secrets by Mel Helitzer

The Comedy Bible From Stand-up to Sitcom--The Comedy Writer's Ultimate How To Guide by Judy Carter

How to Beat Writers Block by Holly Lisle

How to write a book in 14 days by Steve Manning

I think that's enough to get started with.

Most of these are available as a PDF or paperback either through their web sites or - or like I found, a good used book store.

I haven't finished reading all those books yet.. still working on it.

I have also subscribed to a number of free writing courses online. I will detail these and any freely downloadable writing Ebooks I have found in another post.


My idea is to learn how to put a story together first then adapt it to IF games. The structure would look as follows:

Write your story or story outline and then within the body of your work, interject what to say and where to go in the IF game. Example:


Preface or chapter or act or scene 1 ( however you like to do it but I think written in scenes is better)

Story Opening Scene 1:
bla bla bla bla bla bla <-- This gets written First (on paper) before this -->[IF Game Rooms & dialog] (In Adrift) all the way down the page till the story or outline is finished.

The [IF Game Rooms & dialog] sections are interjected into this body after your story is written.


This is the opening setup for your story. This introduces the setting, main character, and or main plot, anything you want in the opening to begin the story.

[IF Game Rooms & dialog] <- this is where the opening setup for your story above takes place in the context of the game world.

Now since you story and game will both progress in a liner fashion going down this page until the end of the story, you have to add in here side trips to rooms and other side quests that make up the game - all for adventure purposes until you find the path back that leads you to story and game area Scene 2.

These side trips to rooms for treasure or the like is where all those do's and don'ts of IF theory come in. This is where you craft the adventure part of the game until you get back on the main path to progress the game - to the next set of side trips in scene 2.

Scene 2:
bla bla bla bla bla bla (written first)

[IF Game Rooms & dialog] (added later)

and so on.

This is my thinking oh how beginners can best learn to write an IF game. It has structure that is easy to follow. You will always know what you have to do next to continue the story of the game since your story or outline is already written before you interject the [IF Game] parts.

Of course you can always introduce subplots and puzzles into the [IF game] sections before you bring the player back to the main path to progress the game.

Post by Duncan_B »

Any better?

The new update neglects to add ifMUD (#ADRIFT channel, ClubFloyd plays ADRIFT games, the XYZZY Awards are held here), IF URLs (tracks discussion across the community, ADRIFT Forum threads still pretty commonly shows up here, as well as quotes from authors-- e.g., Quote of the Week for Week #42 came from David Whyld), and (ADRIFT is discussed under "Other Development Systems", but the community as a whole is lively, friendly, knowledgeable, and generally IF-eriffic).
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Post by Cannibal »

johnphoenix wrote:
Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell
One of the most informative books I've read in many years.
The Plague (Redux), The Woods Are Dark, The Night That Dripped Blood
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Re: Are you an Author or a Gamer? - How do you get your writ

Post by P/o Prune »

Where in the blazes did you come from? :shock:

Anyway, welcome back... Good to see you again.
D-Day in progress 86Kb (Slowly drifting)
October 31st: 81Kb (possible entry for IFComp 2021 :wink: )
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