Do you remember these books? The ones that had multiple plot lines and ending depending on the reader’s choices? They were great, I loved reading them when I was younger and would usually re-read them until I had gone through every story line. Not very popular these days, but there are many lessons for authors to learn from these books.
1. Start With The Basics: Know your setting and your beginning when you set out to write. In a choose your own adventure book, this is crucial because of the changing plot lines. The setting and the beginning are often the only constants. When you sit down to write your book, whether its fiction or non-fiction, the setting and the beginning may be all you have as well. Determine what your starting point is before anything else.
2. Brainstorm: Whether fiction or non-fiction, think through the different paths your book could follow. What ethical problems will the main character face? How would the book change if you directed it to a different audience? What ending would be the most effective? Be firm on the beginning you have already set, but be flexible as you think through different ideas. You may discover a better path for telling your story.
3. Building The Pyramid: In a choose your own adventure book, the character was often faced with a choice that they had to make. As an author, you are the one faced with choices as write your book. How will your book address problems in a unique way? What order will your chapters be in? What would make the most sense for Chapter 4 based on what Chapter 3 is? Create a plot pyramid and work on what it would look like to follow different ideas. Your pyramid will have your beginning at the top, then start branching off in different directions as you go down. After you build it, you will see multiple story lines and and chapter outlines you could follow.
4. Choosing A Storyline: Pick one of the storylines and write away! If you can’t choose the best one right off the bat, arrange your final material in two different ways and see what is the most effective. This is a great way to test the order of your ideas to make them more effective.
5. Cutting: One of the best bonuses you will get from laying out your book this way is a birds-eye view on what you want to write about. You will find things that don’t fit nearly as well as you though. Cut them. Remember the 80/20 rule (20% of your book will get 80% of the results) and cut out as much of the less helpful 80% that you can.