How important choices are in a story?

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#1

So hey guys, today I want to discuss with you guys the importance of choices in stories.
In my experienced, the part that make me tired most is choices. I’m the author - I decide how my story goes, right? When I do choice, for example a date, if I let the readers choose go or not, the ending still the same. I just let choice in some parts that the readers need to show their personality - that means choices don’t effect to my story much.
In my opinion, the result will be the same, choices just let the readers choose how it will happen.
Are choices really important in a story? Share your thoughts below!


#2

In a lot of stories I have read, choices didn’t impact anything, though some felt like they might have. I would say try to make them feel important if you can, but it’s fine if they don’t really impact the story, because not everyone has the capacity to branch the story and continuously keep branching.


#3

Well, I would say that there are two sides to the coin in this one. One the first hand we have the whole concept of Episode . It’s named Episode Interactive for a reason, and the concept is to enable the readers be a part of the story - no matter the impact of the choices. It’s centered around having the reader feel in charge and in control of the story and its characters. Though it’s more often a facade of having choices that matter, but nontheless it’s a huge part of the app itself. The illusion of a choice creates a situation where the reader believes themselves to be the narrator - even if the choices don’t change much. Still, it’s a known fact that choices is quite horrendous to create as it takes a lot of time and effort to make those that truly matters.

On the other hand however, I take myself as an example. If the story focuses on the plot and its characters, I don’t mind if there aren’t any choices at all. Because when a story has a plot that makes the reader crave for the next chapter, they’ve already created something more. Because in the end, some will just do with the experience. Because having created a story that is fulfilling and captivating, you’ll just forget all about the choices and just immerse yourself with the story. Or well, I do, if the plot of the story has that effect on me as a result of great storytelling.

But when thinking about it, it’s all about preferences. The choices - no matter the impact - creates a narrator situation for the reader and enables them to be a part of the story. And some crave that, beacause being able to change the story to your fitting is quite fun when you think about it. But you would still have to have in mind that the authors are limited. It’s not easy to make choices that truly matters. It’s really hard, and demands much of the author. But if I were be the one voice here, it’s all about the plot really. If the story is captivating and awesome, it could make one forget about choosing and just make you focus on reading.


#4

Yes Discussions!

I am weird, but I will actually stop reading stories if the choices matter becauese I really dislike that feeling when the wrong choice was made but also ( as I believe I was mentioned ) I am reading a story more for the plot rather than the outcome.

However, I am such a hypocrite, in my latest story every choice matters and some heavily punish your character and people love it. Like when plotting this story I knew I wanted to appeal to an audience which would love stories with choices that matter.


#5

Honestly, it’s up to you how much choices in your story matter. All authors are different.
However, a lot of people play Episode because of the choices and many of them will stop reading a story if there aren’t any.

One thing I recommend you do avoid though is contradictory choices - where the reader chooses one thing and then ends up doing the other anyway. That’s just frustrating, and it’s bad quality writing. Better not to have the choice at all.


#6

yeah, that’s really annoying, that one of the reasons don’t like adding choices in my story. Some readers want my story goes as their opinion. I just can’t :slightly_smiling_face:


#7

lol :joy: how, just how :joy: :joy: :joy:


#8

Haha, well since you’re putting the choices in, the readers don’t actually know how you intended for the story to go. I find it more annoying when readers beg to be able to customize a character, or demand to make someone a love interest, or beg you to make the MC get married/have kids with their love interest, etc. Now THAT’s someone trying to tell you how your story should go😕

Choices you can include that give the illusion of choice without changing your story are things like dressing games (choosing the charatcer’s outfit), choosing what the character eats or drinks in a scene, having them choose to go left or right (but still ending up in the same location) or having them choose the main character’s favorite color or animal etc.

Also choices that just change a few unimportant lines of dialogue. There’s many ways to make it seem like choices matter without them actually having an effect.

I feel like I should ETA: I actually prefer stories with choices that matter; that’s the main point of having the branching system and it’s how I write myself. But for people who want a completely linear story without the reader’s choices having any impact on the story, but don’t want to lose readers due to lack of choices… those examples above are the only thing you can do, really. That or like, write on Wattpad instead.


#9

:joy::joy::rofl::rofl::sweat_smile::laughing:


#10

Right… but it’s really pointless to have choices like, as you typed: go to left or right but end up at the same position. Readers don’t like that =((


#11

Well for me, the whole reason why I downloaded Episode was because I was thinking about those old choose-your-own-adventure books that I used to read as a kid and I wanted something similar. All my stories (except my first one) have choices that significantly impact the story and the ending however, I also give the option to see all endings at the end (not all paths though. In some cases, the stories split halfway through the series). Before I start to write, I do put a lot of thought into the different plotlines so I hope that whatever “journey” a reader takes, they still enjoy it.

Pointless choices (like what to eat) irritate me (although I’m also a hypocrite because I’ve used choices like that in the past lol). I don’t mind choices that don’t impact the storyline (like reactions/ interactions), but I personally like knowing that my choices can result in different scenes/outcomes even if the endings are all the same.

This isn’t to say that I won’t read a story without meaningful choices, but I do prefer them. One of my favourite parts about Episode is how interactive it is.


#12

You’re second point is how I view my stories. I have one up now with no choices, just focusing on the story. I had thought about adding choices but it is a a little difficult to do if I already have everything planned out the way it should be. I have others idea that I plan to make into stories as well, and no choices come to mind for any of them. I’m more into reading a compelling story rather than changing things around. If the MC is a certain type of person that’s into certain type of things I want to see how they go about doing things like in a real book. Unless the MC is in a narrative form making that person “you” and then I can see choices used then because you make all the decisions.


#13

One thing I know I don’t like for CC which is part of making choices is that if the MC is on the cover of the story then having the option to change how they look takes away from who that person is so to speak. Like I’ve read stories where I changed the complexion and facial features of the MC but her family still looks the same. You may as well just leave them looking the way they originally were made to look.


#14

Can I just say I’m enjoying the survival/rescue point system in Maternal Instincts so much? Awesome use of the point system.

I also don’t care for pointless choices… although I admit that I’ll use them at the start of a chapter if it’s taking too long to get to a choice that matters. I know Episode recommends you have one quite early in the story for the sake of reader retention.


#15

Thank you so much!!! :grinning: I’m really glad that you’re enjoying that part of the story! I put a lot of effort into that part, so it means a lot to me :blush:


#16

Personally, as a writer, I like to give as much choice as possible without giving myself serious branching issues. I think choices are a great thing which separates Episode from other storytelling mediums out there. The best thing for me is if there are often outfit choices, if there are choices which seem impactful and if there is more than one ending scenario.


#17

I have a few different types of choices in my story… maybe not all “matter” but at least they let the reader have some control and affect how other characters may react to you.
These are some of the types of choices I have included:

1. Choose who’s narrating the scene. In chapter two and in chapter eight, the readers are given the option to see a few different points of view for the same scene, and they get to choose who to ‘play’ as.

2. How to reply to someone. This can affect the main character’s relationship with other characters in the story, sometimes gaining or losing character points.

3. Learning additional things about certain characters. There are certain scenes where you (either as the reader in a sort of ‘breaking the fourth wall’ style or as the main character) can choose what question to ask a character in the story. The option you choose will reveal additional information about that person, but sometimes you can only choose one answer.

As for multiple ending choices, I’m not a fan of writing them but I do like reading them, as long as the story is well-written and executed. It depends on what type of story you are writing and just how interactive it is.


#18

U need a mix of choices tht matter(major choices) and little fun stuff(clothing choices and hobbys idk) but reading a story tht has few choices and/or no choices is very boring to me.


#19

yeah of course ikr ~~


#20

Episode guidelines suggest to include 1 choice every 15-20 lines of dialogues, which is almost impossible if you don’t want to add constrained, unnecessary scenes. If I like the plot I would rather read a story with no choices than one with many pointless choices. I read a story once in which I had to change clothes like 5 times in each episode and my wardrobe consisted of at least 30 outfits. It was so annoying that I just tapped it through as quick as possible and I ended up going on a date in a towel.
What you already mentioned, going left or right side is well, also something… And my favourite outcome so far was: oops, wrong direction!