Thursday, August 2, 2012

Not Your Typical #CYOA Story

If you haven't heard of Choose or Die, you're missing out--it's an insane interactive reader/writer experience. The website sells it to you by evoking some sort of childhood nostalgia.
Once upon a time (don’t all good stories start that way?), young adult readers of the mid-to-late 80s had far more power than they have now.  They had the power to determine the fates of the characters in the books they read.  I won’t name the franchise of books that foolishly gave these young readers so much power, but let’s just say the reader was asked several times during the course of the story to “make a choice” regarding the direction of the “adventure.”
Now that we have grown up, we find ourselves stripped of power and slave to the whims of the writers who think they know better than us what should happen next in a story.  Don’t tell me there haven’t been times you’ve put a book down and wished the author would have called you and consulted with you about that fork in the road.  If only that had happened, the book wouldn’t have sucked so bad, think you. 
 Well, I think it’s time, finally, to give you back the power to make the next call.
Choose or Die is just that place – but wait, before you become too jubilant and drunk on your own remembered power, there are a few things you should know.

With all great power comes great responsibilities.... right? Here's the skinny directly from the Choose or Die website--how it works:
  • Majority rules.
  • You’ll be introduced to a new story, and, of course, at a particularly heady junction in the action, you’ll be asked to make a choice.  But you aren’t alone.  Your fellow readers are also making choices.  Lo and behold, you are now engaged in a battle of wills.  The more people that choose the option you favor, the better chance you have to see your option advanced in the story.  However, if your favorite choice is not preferred by the majority, you will suffer the disappointment of the loser.
  • If you lose, you die.
  • You won’t always win.  Don’t worry.  The losing choices will be addressed, too – but not the way you want.  Beware the pitfalls of being in the minority, because grisly fates await.  Of course, you can always recruit more readers to slant the voting your way . . .
  • There are a lot of Scribblers here.
  •  Every episode, you’ll be introduced to a different Scribbler, a writer chosen for their propensity towards the humorous and ridiculous.  The style may be a little different from day to day.  We like to keep things interesting around here.
  • It’s very likely that multiple tales are being told.
  • Don’t get lost.  Again, we like to keep things interesting, and Scribblers don’t appreciate standing around, waiting on majority rule.
The story is fast paced and completely unpredictable--even the writers have no clue as to where it's going. Once the weekly chapter is posted, the readers vote--the next writer doesn't know what he (or she) is writing until after the votes have been tabulated. Then, he (or she)  has to write the next chapter. The other two options--the losing ones--are written and spit out the same week. These "kills" will likely blow your mind. The "Crew" are little mad-scientists, looking to kill you off in unexpected ways (last season I wrote a death by chicken wing). This way, you can see what would've happened if you chose one of the losing options--although, no one will know if you fib and say you chose something else.

You'll also notice that the writers like to leave awkward options at the end of each chapter, making it difficult for the next writer to pick up where the story left off, so believe me when I say a good time will be had by all. *insert evil laugh here*

Now, we are on the brink of Season Four, and we're ready to get this ball rolling. As the reader you can help pick this season's story by visiting the website, and VOTING on the story that you'd like to see on Choose or Die. There are quite a few options, but be sure to read them all--some will definitely surprise you (and possibly offend you--if the writers are doing their jobs right).

We've had a blast with previous seasons. Here are the links to past stories, so you can read them start-to-finish, choosing your favorite options along the way. There's other cool stuff on the website--like video trailers made by the ridiculously talented Steven Novak and information on all of the writers taking part in this season as well as past seasons.

It's definitely been fun, and I can't wait until we officially kick off Season Four, so GO VOTE NOW :-)