Friday, August 6, 2010

How to Raise a Writer (A Choose Your Own Adventure Story)

For anyone not familiar with Choose Your Own Adventure, they were a series of simple chapter books that were really popular with kids when I was growing up. The format is essentially that you get a little bit of story, and then must choose what happens next. Choose right, and the story keeps moving on toward a happy ending. Choose wrong, and you are inexplicably sent hurtling into space, or eaten by a dinosaur, or whatever. Most kids backtracked, of course, and read the whole book. That is how it works.

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Bonnie, who liked to do lots of things. She loved to play video games, swing on her swingset, play with her cats, go swimming, and play chess with her Granddaddy. But her very favorite thing to do, more favorite even than swinging, was making up stories. She would spend hours in her room, making up new stories about Dorothy and the Scarecrow, or Kermit and Fozzie and Miss Piggy, or the Babysitters Club. She thought that these stories were pretty interesting, and wondered if she should write them down.

Option A: Bonnie tells her stories to an adult, and asks them to help her write them so she can save them forever. Turn to page 2.

Option B: Bonnie feels very shy about her stories and does not tell them to anyone. She dislikes writing because it makes her hand hurt, and she doesn’t want to write anymore after writing at school all day, so her stories never get written down. Turn to page 4.

Page 2: Bonnie tells her story to an adult, but the “adult” turns out to be the SkiFree monster and it gobbles her up. THE END.

Page 4: Since Bonnie doesn’t like writing, she spends a lot of time thinking about her stories so she doesn’t forget them. This gives her a lot of practice rewording things until she likes the way they sound. She even goes around narrating everything she does in her head, saying “And then I got the toothpaste, and then I put it on the brush” to herself as she brushes her teeth. Occasionally other kids will catch her mouthing words to herself, and they think she is odd.

A: Bonnie’s parents become very concerned about her odd behavior, and sign her up to be tested for psychological problems. Turn to page 6.

B: Bonnie’s parents were also strange as children and thus do not notice anything unusual about her behavior. Turn to page 8.

Page 6: Bonnie is diagnosed with autism, and her parents are instructed to keep her on a tight set of schedules and routines. This leaves her little time for making up stories, and also causes the sun to explode and everybody dies. THE END.

Page 8: Bonnie does not have a lot of friends, but she likes to play by herself anyway, so this isn’t a big deal. She seems happy playing in her room alone, so her mom lets her do that as much as she wants. As she gets older, her stories get more complex, involving dozens of characters and complicated plots. She writes a story for 6th grade which prompts her teacher to tell her she should be a writer, and the other kids even ask her for copies of her story.

A: Bonnie is thrilled to be told she should be a writer, and decides to write lots and lots of stories and pass them out to all her friends to read. Turn to page 9.

B: Bonnie decides she must be really good at daydreaming and continues to do this all the time. She almost fails 6th grade because she refuses to write an important essay. Turn to page 11.

Page 9: Suddenly, ninjas. Thousands of them. You wouldn’t believe the carnage. THE END.

Page 11: Bonnie realizes that since she is good at tests, it doesn't really matter if her homework gets done, because she will still pull a C. She starts skipping whole assignments and even staying home from school a lot. But eventually she has to write essays, because her school decides essays are very, very important and should be written in every class, even band and gym. Fortunately, her teachers like her essays a lot, so much that they almost always give her 100s on them. People keep telling her she should be a writer when she grows up, but she really doesn’t like writing and is kind of offended by the idea that out of everything she does, her only special talent is being really good at homework. She would rather be outgoing and good at something flashy and interesting.

A: Bonnie meets a fairy who teaches her about how everyone is special in their own way, and being smart matters more than being popular. She decides writing is important and chooses to write more essays, both in and out of school. Turn to page 14.

B: Bonnie drops the fuck out of high school after one semester and proceeds to waste away her teen years reading Pokemon forums. Turn to page 16.

Page 14: The “fairy” was actually a hallucination brought on by a fever dream. Bonnie has died of dysentery. THE END

Page 16: Bonnie is not good at typing, but learns to do it quickly so that she can keep up with online chatrooms. Wanting to become popular at the Pokemon forums, she begins writing silly and barely coherent fanfiction to entertain others. As she gets more involved at these forums, she meets lots of interesting people with opinions she has never heard before. Some of these opinions piss her off, and she writes lengthy, organized posts responding to them. She occasionally notices these posts are the same length as the essays she used to write in school - sometimes even longer!

A: Bonnie realizes she likes writing essays after all! She decides to go back to school, because this will make her successful someday. Turn to page 17.

B: What? She’s not writing essays! She’s just talking to people! Piss off! Turn to page 18.

Page 17: Alligators bit off your face :( THE END

Page 18: Bonnie eventually becomes good friends with some of her Pokemon forum buddies. One of her best friends likes blogging on Xanga and Myspace, and convinces Bonnie to join those sites to read her posts. Bonnie thinks blogging is sort of stupid, but she likes the little gadget that says what music you’re currently listening to, so she joins and just starts posting memes. Eventually, she realizes blogging is an easy way to tell all her friends at once when something awesome or enraging happens, instead of telling the same story 20 different times. She’s also very opinionated and likes to rant, and sometimes people like her rants. She finds this to be a much more exciting kind of writing than she did in school, because she has a real audience giving real feedback. Over the years, she becomes completely addicted to blogging, because basically, she likes attention. THE END


Michael said...

This post is amazing. I love Choose Your Own Adventure stories. I actually just found several of them in the attic as I was moving things from cardboard boxes to clear plastic bins. Guess where those books are going? Oh hell yes, NEUC. The question is, should I bundle them together and put them in the raffle, or should I put them in the Great Media Exchange for people such as yourself to take individual ones?

Also, 'ninja' doesn't take an S to become plural. That's how sneaky they are. You could go 'oh my god! Behind you! Ninja!!!' and your friend will be all 'Pft, whatever, what's one ninja' and then a THOUSAND NINJA DESCEND. (Actually nothing in Japanese takes an S to become plural, but I prefer the 'sneaky ninja' explanation. ;) )

gail said...

Enjoyed this Bonnie! I always try and find time to read your posts as I love your writing. Hope you have many adventures! :-)

p.s. bohemian said...

oh gosh i LOVED those books for a time as a child. and the ninjas - yay!

loved this whole post - so glad ya avoided the alligators :P

Elisha said...

Man, I'm pretty sure if I thought there was even one ninja behind me, I'd turn around :p

凱許倫 said...