NOTE: This is part of a series that explains how to create your own simple gamebooks. More articles here.
How did you get involved in the Helios Trials gamebook, and what was your role?
I was the book’s managing editor and developmental editor. I also wrote two of the fourteen endings, the prologue, the opening chapter, the epilogue, and the super short, secret fourth narrative cluster. My job was to ensure that this book still aligned with the overarching story of The Ceyla Chronicles, stayed within the internal and external logic established in the worldbuilding of Helios, and somehow moved Ceyla Ward’s story and character development forward.
I was also tasked to ensure that the characters and the world stayed consistent in all the Helios books, coordinate with authors who will write for the series, create new or cultivate existing story arcs for future authors to explore in future books, and oversee the books’ production from conceptualization and planning to the release of the print and digital versions.
My job was to also help the authors write in this new—and unconventional—format of storytelling, make the narrative choice map and the Helios worldbuilding brief to guide authors when they write their assigned narrative clusters, check if the chapters are consistent with the overall narrative planned for this book and the entire series, and somehow give authors autonomy to write their assigned narrative clusters in their own authorial voice.
The three major narrative clusters of the Helios Trials were penned by Hraefn, Missmaple, and sielalstreim.
What is this gamebook about?
A brief backgrounder about The Ceyla Chronicles series and the world of Helios: The Ceyla Chronicles is a series of fantasy books set in the world of Helios and follows the story of Ceyla Ward, a half-Fae, Half-Human freelance detective who fights crime and solves mysteries of the supernatural nature.
The book series started out as a collaboration by our first five fantasy authors back when we launched Cloak, the fantasy, scifi, and speculative fiction sub-imprint of Pop Fiction, in 2014. As more and more authors joined the Pop Fiction imprint, more opportunities for book collaborations came to us. With every new collaboration made for The Ceyla Chronicles, the more the world and the series grew.
(NOTE — In this series, only Helios Trials is a gamebook.)
Briefly describe your gamebook development process.
Plan. Make a choice map. Coordinate with authors. Make a very detailed outline. Set a deadline. Write. Adjust outlines if needed. Realign plans. Rewrite. Edit. Check for inconsistencies. Proofread. Edit.
What advice would you have for writers who want to write a similar gamebook?
If you’re just starting out, it helps to know your writing process. Are you a plotter or a discovery writer? A gamebook like Helios Trials requires a clear plan and outline. In fact, I don’t think any writer can discovery-write their way to finishing a game book like Helios Trials without any kind of outline.
If you know your process, you’ll be able to adjust yourself to cater to the requirements of writing a gamebook. All authors are a bit of both, but they usually lean more on one type of process over the other. The authors of Helios Trials lean more towards discovery writing, but they are also very comfortable with outlining. This was where we began.
Next, make a work plan and the narrative choice map, and stick to those plans as closely as possible. It will make the backend work (like editing and revising) a lot easier for you. Then set a deadline to finish the book.
Excel sheets were most helpful to us in tracking the choice maps and chapters.
What was your first ever encounter with a gamebook?
My first encounter with a gamebook similar to Helios Trials is the Give Yourself Goosebumps series by R. L. Stine published in the 90s. After that, I found the original Choose Your Own Adventure series published in the 80s. For Helios Trials, the inspirations were actually Netflix’s Bandersnatch, Can You Survive The Zombie Apocalypse by Max Brailler, and My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris.
What other gamebook-related projects do you have coming up?
For Pop Fiction Originals, an interactive romance novel entitled The Paths We Take is in the works. It features our readers’ favorite leading men archetypes—the bad boy, the nerd, the CEO, and the firestarter—as potential romantic partners depending on the choices readers make in the book. We’re also working on another game book set in the Ceyla Chronicles universe. Entitled The Ceyla Chronicles 4: Murder Mayhem, it is a murder mystery party book that can be played with friends—online or offline.
How can readers find out more about your gamebooks?
Readers can get a copy of Helios Trials and all the other books in The Ceyla Chronicles series in any of Summit Books’ shops: Shopify, Shopee, Lazada for only P199 for the print book version and P165 for the ebook version.
Follow Pop Fiction on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube for updates on current and future books and gamebooks. Check out Pop Fiction’s entire catalogue of books at www.popfictionbooks.com. We also regularly post cool videos and articles on our website and social media pages.
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