Choose Your Own Adventure

Hey all –

I’m the author of a choose your own adventure-style novel called Can YOU Survive the Zombie Apocalypse? I wrote the entire thing in Word, but now I’m beginning work on the sequel and I’m wondering if Scrivener might better help me wrangle the different paths.

Anyone have experience writing a multi-path book in Scrivener? Any hints?


Very interesting idea! May I ask how did you managed it in Word?

I haven’t written much CYOA (just a couple of chapters for a collaborative project that I also helped to edit, in Google Docs, so you can imagine how much fun that was). I saw your post yesterday, though, and I’ve been thinking about how I might approach this. I apologize in advance if I’m giving you information you already have (like how to add links to internal documents); I don’t like to make assumptions about how much time you’ve had to explore the program. :smiley:

If you wrote the story in a single Word doc, or a few different Word docs each containing more than one part of the story, I’d suggest starting with File–>Import–>Import & Split. (That’s assuming there’s something at the end of each chapter that you can use to tell Scrivener, “Split the document here.” If there’s not, you’ll have to import and split manually: Documents–>Split–>at Selection or -->with Selection as Title. The keyboard shortcuts are ⌘K and ;⌥⌘K, respectively.)

Once I had it all in Scrivener, I would:

  1. Include links to each of the options at the end of each chapter. (Right/Control+Click, Link to Document) If I were writing from scratch, I’d probably create new documents for each option, using “New Link” under the “Link to Document” menu. Adapting existing text, though, I would either highlight the existing choices at the end of each chapter and link them to the appropriate documents, or just add the links and delete the existing choices. (Scrivener will automatically include the titles when it creates the links, if there’s no text there already. Otherwise, it will keep the text you have and add the link to that.)

1.5) I might also add links at the top of each chapter to the chapter it branched from. Step 2, though, might make this unnecessary.

  1. In addition to linking each chapter to its branches, I would add those branches as Document References (over in the Inspector). You can open References in the main editor, split editor, or QuickReference panels, which makes them easily accessible if you need some of the information from them. The best part is, though, that they automatically create backlinks to the document(s) referencing them—which is why I said that 1.5 might not be necessary.

  2. Include keywords in each document. I’m just getting my head around keywords (Pigfender has a great post on tracking characters with them here:, so this will be fairly basic, but I think I would include keywords for the characters present in the chapter (if I were juggling multiple characters), whether or not the characters are going to die in this chapter, and any subplots included in the chapter. I’m sure you can come up with more and better options.

I hope this helps!

Hi, this is not my kind of work at all, but I found it intriguing to think about how I would set about doing it in Scrivener, with the thought in the background that if you have done one in Word, doing another in Scrivener once you’ve learned the ropes of the program would be an absolute synch.

Firstly I would keep each document in Scrivener as short as possible, even down to single paragraphs, as that would give you the maximum flexibility in terms of moving them around.

Secondly, I would set up a system of keywords, not only to include the names of characters present in the scene, but also the location, and names of paths to which that scene contributes, etc. That may seem a lot, but they can be created as they come up, and will allow you to search by keyword to isolate any aspect.

I would use labels, customising them to provide a label for each path if that’s possible, colouring them differently and then turning on using label marking in the binder, so that you would be able to see at a glance which path each document belonged to — I presume that’s available under Windows.

That’s how I would set about it, at least to start with, until the keywords and/or labels became too cumbersome, and then I’d have to think again.

But good luck.

Mr X