Growing Pains…Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

I have taken on a project that I thought would be fun. I love a challenge but this is fairly involved. I mentioned it before. Since I haven’t had my laptop for a bit and it is a complicated genre, I am finding it difficult.

I recall in one of my writing classes, one of my professors said “New writers should begin with short stories and grow from there.” Paraphrasing, of course, this was years ago. I am a novelette and children’s book writer and feel comfortable in these genres.

I see no reason for me to continue a story to a novel word count, my story ends where it ends. Many authors have their preferences, I get it.

I felt the need to go back to my childhood and write a middle grade story. Not just any MG story, an interactive fiction MG “choose your own adventure” type. Some of you may remember these. Some of you may not. I remember getting hooked on these books.

The stories gave ME the choice as to what happened to the characters. I could read the same book over and over again. Now with technology, an e-book of a ‘choose your own adventure’ could be even more exciting.

Guess what? Writing one is, in my opinion, SO COMPLICATED! I have my little post its and postcards and highlighters all over the place, but…adding and taking away still doesn’t help where I numbered the page. I bit off more than I could chew.

writing interactive fiction 

Writing Interactive Fiction by [Potter, Deb]

I have a book on the subject. Yes it’s helpful in theory. As a matter of fact, it’s really informative and gives the reader a lot to think about before they start writing. It isn’t writing the book for me. Like many of the articles and books I’ve read in the past, I felt confident when I read this. Then I began to write. In no way am I knocking this book, like I said, it is informative and basically a step by step guide for those who would like to ‘choose this adventure’ (okay, corny).

The real confidence builder is my test readers. I gave the first section to a few of my closest ten-year-old family and friends. So far, they love it and are asking for the rest of the story.

Sorry kiddos, that one section took a long time and the remainder will not be out until (at the earliest) February. That is BEFORE I get editors to check it out, make sure the grammar and page numbers are on point.

I know for a fact I’ll be rewriting the page numbers time and time again.

I need to stop and explain interactive fiction for a moment:

You have the choice for what the character does at certain points of the book. 

EX: Marlon walks through the woods. He sees a dragon up the hill. 

Does he confront the Dragon? —page 32

Does he run into the cave? —page 34

Something along those lines. That is interactive fiction in the most basic of it’s form. In the e-book version, they use hyperlinks for the readers to choose. I see that as an outstanding idea with an overwhelming amount of time that I need to breathe and realize one step at a time.

Also, one broken hyperlink ruins the story. There goes the book. There goes credibility as an author. I guess the fears in a big project is why my professor said to start small. Gain the confidence and skills needed to succeed. Honestly, that professor wasn’t my favorite but her words stuck. She must’ve done something right for me to remember her lessons.

Like I said, one step at a time. That’s how we overcome overwhelm. I wonder how long this story will really take. I am shooting for February. I am usually quicker if it is a novelette or children’s book.

I shall see. Oh well, good luck with your projects newbies, and everyone else. Stay fabulous.

Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence. - Colin Powell

Robyn Branick


Robbie Ellie


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