When I was kid I read the Choose Your Own Adventure series. I didn’t fall in love with the books themselves but with the idea that I could go back to page 49 and decide to turn left instead of right. This may have completely screwed up my perspective on decision-making. Real life does not allow for so much page-flipping. But if Choose Your Own Adventure messed with my concept of linear living, the series also revealed a storytelling truth: You can go back and end it differently.
Isn’t “Happy Endings” by Margaret Atwood a kind of commentary on storytelling flexibility?
I’m not giving a complete analysis here. Not at all. I like the story though. The last time I read the piece I thought about Choose Your Own Adventure plus Multiple Choice. I want to try writing a multiple choice piece that tells a few stories, that opens characters to left and right at once. I want to write that because I can’t live it like that. I want the chance to go left and then the chance to go right, without left wrecking my chance at right.
Times like this, I see the appeal of reincarnation.
What I tried today is a baby practice of the kind of form I’d like to experiment with. I wrote a five questions multiple choice test. It goes nowhere, for all the directions it contains.
Please fill in the corresponding answer bubble completely.
- When your wife tells you she’s pregnant
a. Cry because she’s crying and it will mask your panic
b. Openly panic because the economy is shit
c. Rejoice for children are blessings and your quiver is three shy of full
d. Secretly hope it’s a boy this time
- Offered a promotion at work, in exchange for your sleep
a. Take it knowing the raise will cover requisite gallons of Starbucks
b. Do the math on minimum hours sleep necessary
c. Realize your sleep is well in the red anyway
d. Ask if refusing means you’re magically given eight hours a night
- The vacation you plan for your family is
a. A road trip to your birthplace, calling it family history
b. Two weeks of camping, mosquito bites and burned wieners
c. One barely affordable trip to Disneyland because they’ll love you more later
- After you leave your in-laws you
a. Are silent the entire two-hour drive home
b. Realize you drank too much to drive and hand the keys to your spouse
c. Pray thanksgiving at marrying into such a lovely bunch
d. Hope the kids appreciate your sacrifice
- On Saturday morning you have two early morning hours to yourself. You
a. Get on the bike you’ve been meaning to ride all summer
b. Spend thirty minutes thinking how the kids never sleep this late
c. Make coffee and drink it while it’s still hot
d. Go online to read the Times but get lost googling coworkers
Go write your own multiple choice test about anything. Have fun making things up.
P.S. Massive pain to format multiple choice on WordPress. Any ideas?