yes-reply #02


This week I found myself in Roma Street Parklands after dark, following my friend around as he waved his phone’s flashlight along the ground in search for the clues I had hidden. Really it’s a miracle security didn’t ask us to leave, looking like we’re searching for a dead drop, but all I could think about is how I had failed.

I’m writing a new interactive fiction text, part scavenger hunt, part short story - and one of my specific goals was to constrain it to daytime - my trial of this story ran about an hour over schedule and long after sunset. I keep telling myself I’m not a perfectionist, but an error like this is unforgivable. Following my friend around the parklands I kept racking my brain for how I was going to fix it, fix the slow story progression, fix the clunky characters who weren’t helping, fix the shoddy hiding spots I chose.

I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m quite an aspirational person, and my writing is much the same. I dream of writing a story which is canonised as capital ‘L’ Literature, I brand myself as an high-brow artist who is interested in rigorous cultural and political work.

But - in the case of this new text Recidivists - what I needed to work on wasn’t artistic merits, but how to make it fun.

A green paddle-pop stick hidden, with text on it: game clue - do not move

All well and good for me to create my magnum opus, but unless the reader enjoys the hunt for the next clue, they will walk away from the story and go look at some flowers instead. This isn’t just the case for interactive fiction either, I think sometimes as artists we pursue high-brow themes at the cost of accessibility and enjoyment.

Hamilton is arguably the most culturally impactful stageplay of the 2010s, absolutely filled to the brim with political power, and a fun night out.

So I’m going to make Recidivists easier. I’m going to include some creative maps the make it both enjoyable and easy to find the clues and I’m going to cut away boring parts of the story that, although may tell the audience extra information, don’t enhance the experience of reading. And in general, I think it’s time for me to spend some time studying comedy and try to have a bit more fun in my stories.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Gillanders

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