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Choosing My Own Adventure

I’ve taken a few days off from work to write a proposal for a new story. It’s an idea I worked on a little last year, then put aside. Here’s why…

I got a call last year from an editor who wanted me to think about a special project: a choose-your-own-adventure type story but for romantic suspense readers. The idea would be that it would have lots of plot twists, right? The editor knew how much I love to plot, so she thought I’d be the perfect person for this project, but since she didn’t have the go-ahead from TPTB yet, she just wanted me to “think about it. Don’t write anything yet.”

Predictably, once I started thinking about it, I started writing scenes. And it was so much fun! Why? Because I could write some of the exciting scenes in multiple ways. For example, the heroine has a big secret that she’s keeping from the hero. In a regular book, I’d have to pick just the right moment for her to tell him. In this choose-your-own, I wrote certain scenes both ways, with her telling him or not.

The idea was that at the end of Chapter Three, readers would make the choice – e.g. tell him or wait till later. Depending on their choice, they’d either keep reading, or proceed to page x. Three chapters later, they’d have another choice to make. So I actually would have written four different endings for this story! And guess what? Once I found the right story, that was an amazing opportunity. Of course, I did all of this in synopsis form, since the editor wasn’t even sure she could consider such a book yet.

The synopsis turned out so well, I sent it to the editor anyway, and she was thrilled beyond my wildest hopes. She immediately submitted it to TPTB, and they liked it too, but decided they didn’t want to take a chance on choose-your-own for an adult audience. Meanwhile, they wanted to buy it, but as a regular book, which meant I had to select which ending I liked best, and write the book without any choices embedded in it.

Yep, they wanted to buy it. But I said, “um, no.” This is unusual for me, because I love a good sale. But I wasn’t ready to tame this story into a regular book. And I definitely couldn’t pick just one ending. After all, I had poured my creative heart into designing multiple endings, and I believed in all four of them.

Now I’m ready. Why? Because I found a way to choose among the four endings without insulting the other three. It finally occurred to me that in order to allow for the choose-your-own feature, and the extra pages that added, the basic story was pretty short. Now that the extra chapters would never exist, I needed to pick the ending that allowed me to “grow” the story into a full-sized book. Then I examined each ending critically, asking – “does this ending allow me to create a subplot or other complication that will add pages to my story?” And one of the four offered the best possibilities for that.

So now I have my story. I’m going to re-write my synopsis, write three chapters, and ask my agent to send it out to a few publishers, including the company that was interested last year. Will they still be interested? I hope so, but I have enough confidence in this plot now that I think it’ll sell somewhere even if the original pub doesn’t want it any more.

Funny thing is, even though I have to scrap a lot of the choose-your-own scenes, it really enriched this story to go through that process. It forced me to look at scenes from every point of view, and to play the “what if” game with more intensity that I might have otherwise. So even as a regular novel, this book is going to have a distinctive quality – an aura of “anything might happen” left over from its original incarnation.

I can’t wait to get started!

BTYL, Kate



( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 9th, 2006 12:36 am (UTC)
See it is teasers like this that me me wanna stalk you. I am in awe...and personally I would love to see grown up choose your own twist. I remember those as a teenager having to read the book over and over until I had chosen every option just to see how things ended up.

I am sad that publishers aren't ready for it yet!
Nov. 9th, 2006 02:49 am (UTC)
choose your own fun
That was my dream, Charity. That people who read the story would read each and every ending. So I planted different information about the heroine and the villain in each of the different endings, knowing that anyone who read all four would have a fuller picture than that could possibly get for any one ending.

It KILLS me that it won't see the light of day. But it's worse to think of it hiding under my bed forever (not that it doens't have company!) So I'm finally ready to make this compromise.

But wouldn't it have been fun if it had happened like it should?

Oh well...

Thanks for agreeing that choose your own can work for adults! I know I'd read them, that's for sure.

Nov. 9th, 2006 02:11 pm (UTC)
Re: choose your own fun
I'm with Charity -- I think it would be GREAT (although I missed any "choose your twist" books when I was young: am I too old to have seen them?).

Nov. 9th, 2006 04:14 pm (UTC)
Re: choose your own fun
Hey Penn, nice to see you! Yep, wouldn't it be fun to choose alternate endings? I think that's one reason computer games are so popular -- the interactive quality of the story-telling.

That's actually how I learned to write. I used to make up different endings for books, movies and TV shows when I wasn't happy with the ending they presented to me. Or when I just wanted the story to go on forever.

I'll save the original synopsis with all the alternate endings, and if/when the regular book comes out, I'll share it with you two and you can tell me if I chose the right one!

Nov. 10th, 2006 11:33 pm (UTC)
Re: choose your own fun
You could bring it to RWA next year (hint hint) :)

Nov. 11th, 2006 12:12 am (UTC)
Re: choose your own fun
Interesting proposition, Penn. If I sell this story by then, I might just do that. Maybe I'll even sell the TT by then!

Meanwhile, I've finished three chapters of this let-me-choose-for-you story, so yay! I predict you'll like this hero a LOT.

I'm beginning to think I'll have the proposal in the (e)mail to my agent by Monday. That was the deadline I set for myself, but these days, it's deadline-schmedline around here, so I'm very surprised.

Talk to ya later!

Oh and I saw the list of Bombshell stuff posted at eharl for the wake. Just in case you're updating it, I noticed it didn't include Steph Doyle's RT reviewer's Choice for THE CONTESTANT. Wouldn't want to forget that one! Thanks!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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