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This Author Wrote a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Story on Twitter

Follow the story of a girl on her magical quest.

Image courtesy of @jedediahberry

The “choose your own adventure” form of storytelling just made a comeback on an unlikely platform: Twitter. Jedediah Berry, a writer whose work dabbles in unconventional narrative structures, used Twitter’s recently added poll function to allow readers and followers to decide the fate of his latest short story, “Untine.”

“I realized that I could use the polls function as a means for involving readers in the making of a story,” he told The Huffington Post.

“Untine” concluded on Sunday after a two-and-a-half-month journey that began in November. It tells the story of a girl following a sage owl on a mission to unknot a labyrinthine forest, using fairy-tale-esque language likely to delight children and adults alike.

Rather than crowdsourcing his material, Berry relied on readers to choose which details to include in the story. The writer was still in control of the language he used, although the direction of the story depended entirely on his followers. While some of the polls determined plot twists, others simply offered ornate descriptions and nouns to define the story’s atmosphere and universe.

Image courtesy of @jedediahberry

“I have heard from readers hoping for particular twists,” Berry said. “In one case, a suggestion inspired one poll option. Mostly, though, I hear from readers celebrating their ‘victories’ when their favorite choices win out—or bemoaning the fact that their choice wasn’t the majority pick.”

This is not the first time Berry has experimented with story structure. In 2015, the author published The Family Arcana, a story printed on a deck of cards which can even be played as a game.

Still, the readers’ input challenged Berry to pursue narrative choices he normally would not have explored. In a way, the story was being edited along the way rather than at the end.

“I love seeing how readers want our protagonist to act,” he said. “They've made her fearless, and she often defied what other characters think she should do. Often, too, my readers’ choices differ from what I know I would do if I’d been alone with the text. Figuring out how to respond to narrative instincts other than my own is an exciting challenge.”

It worked out in the end. “Untine” is an enchanting piece of work on its own, and knowing the nature of its creation makes it even more unique and compelling. Read the full story here.

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