How to write a gamebook part 2d – Using paragraphs

OK.  Now we have three short gamebooks which are between 5 and 20 paragraphs each.  When we have given the reader the choice, we have just told them to go to the next paragraph and added paragraphs as we need them.  However, a finished gamebook will have many more than 20 paragraphs and they will be randomised.  So how do we get to three short ‘scenes’ and turn them into a proper gamebook?  This is what we are going to do now?


How many paragraphs have you got?


First, count up the total number of paragraphs you have in your three gamebooks.  For me, I have 11 for my journey, 6 for my conversation and 15 for my lunch.  That makes 32.


How will we link the scenes together?


Lets have the journey first, which links to your lunch, which links to your conversation.  Do this, even if it does not make logical sense.  We will think about logical consistency later on.  All you need to do is on any endings of your journey gamebook, write something like ‘You go to have lunch.  Turn to…’ and leave a blank space for the number.  Do the same for the lunch gamebook e.g. ‘You then phone your wife. Turn to…’.


How are you going to randomise the paragraphs?

My excel spreadsheet at the beginning.

Now you need to be able to put the paragraphs in random order.  Let’s start with the low tech way.  I’m going to do this via excel, but this could be done just as easily on a piece of paper.

I have 32 paragraphs to write, so I’m going to write the numbers 1-32 in cells.  I’m going to make sure that there is an empty column by each number.

I’m also going to open a word document and write the numbers 1-32, one number per row and centred.  A good time saving file is to have a word document which has the numbers 1-400 or more written like this so you could just copy and paste the numbers you need.


Green is written.  Yellow is reserved to be written.

I’m going to be traditional and start from paragraph 1.  Paragraph 1 is when you decide to cycle to the village via the farm or the main road or you decide to go to your friend’s house.  That’s three paragraphs branching out from 1.

At this point, you need to pick x numbers at random where x is the number of options you have from paragraph 1.  These are the paragraphs you tell the reader to turn to.  They should not be close together.  When I do it the low tech way, I find  the largest white gap and pick the middle number in it.  So in this case, I  will pick the numbers 16, 8 and 24.

This is the main road decision.. 

Copy and paste your paragraph under 1 and put your randomly chosen numbers into the options.  On your excel sheet, colour paragraph 1 green to show that it has been completed and colour the paragraph numbers yellow to show you that they have been reserved to be written and you shouldn’t use them for another choice.

This is the country road decision.

Then pick one of the options and look at how many options lead from it.  I will choose the main road option and say that it is paragraph 8.  It leads to one other paragraph.  I will say that it leads to paragraph 32.

Paragraph 16 is my choice to go via the country road.  That also leads to the village, so that goes to 32.

Fabled Land RPG (20) or AFF2?(28)

Paragraph 24 is my choice to go to my friend’s house.  You then turn to 12.  There are two options here.  Either you play Fabled Lands RPG or Advanced Fighting Fantasy 2.  I will designate paragraph 20 for FLRPG and paragraph 28 for AFF 2.

Got it?  Rinse and repeat until you have a paragraph full of green.  When you get to a paragraph that does not lead anywhere, you could write END in the cell next to the number or leave it blank.

Save the end of a ‘scene’ until last so that you know that you have completed the scene.

Paragraph 25 is the end of my journey scene.  I’m going to write what I have written and then add the instruction ‘Turn to 4’ at the end of it.  Paragraph 4 is the beginning of the lunch ‘scene’

I filled in the paragraphs for my lunch scene.  There were a lot of end paragraphs so I wrote END by these.  This is the product after I have written in the lunch scene.  If I was more organised, I could have decided which paragraph would start the conversation scene, but I’m not and I haven’t.

What I will do now, is decide which of the six reminaing paragraphs (which shows I am doing it right because the conversation scene is six paragraphs long) will be the start of the conversation scene (paragraph 7) and then at the end of each paragraph the is an END paragraph, I will write ‘After lunch, you phone your wife.  Turn to 7.’

The final end product looks like this.
If you would like to read the gamebook, click here.

How was it?


So now we all should have a gamebook between 15 and 45 paragraphs long about a day in our lives.  It is not the most exciting subject material, but the aim was to show you the mechanics of gamebook creation.  We will get onto content in the next two parts.

As far as I was concerned, I missed out a paragraph, so I had to backtrack and redo about 6 paragraphs.  It takes a while to get used to it.

You can read my finished gamebook here.

You can see a film of each step of the paragraph writing process here.

I have some more things to say on this topic, but the post is already getting long and I do not want to give you too much information, so I will release part 2f – what to consider when you write a gamebook by yourself. on Wednesday 10/08/11.

Until then, have a good week!

To improve on the map method, turn to 2a.
To improve on the flow diagram method, turn to 2b.
To improve on the just write it! method, turn to 2c.
If you have now improved all of your gamebooks using the three methods, it’s time to move on.  Turn to part 2d – working with paragraphs.
To read the gamebook, turn to 2e.
To return to the main page, turn to part 2.
To see the video on how I made my gamebook in part 2d, go here.
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