A recent piece at File 770 pointed to this SFWA blog article on interactive fiction using the authoring tool Twine. Intrigued, I downloaded it and went off on small wild tangents with the resulting output here: https://camestrosfelapton.neocities.org/Bortsworth%20Quest.html
The software doesn’t present you with much: a simple screen with limited menu options. However, this really encourages you to jump straight in, start a story and start typing.
Even a relatively short story will generate a complex web of interconnected passages.
But you can easily reposition the passages on screen and the connecting arrows follow fairly neatly. Although I did note some passages that do have connections didn’t always show them if they were connected to a passage with lots of other connections.
You can zoom out as well.
I can see this being handy for sketching out a network of relationships – shame there is no graphical export for these views.
Authoring passages is fairly simple. There are some different markup/code systems available but I just used the default (Harlowe 1.2.3) and haven’t tried the others.
Start with a passage title. These are used to reference the passages. You can create a complex story just with links between passages that are formatted as:
[[some text to display -> Name of Passage]]
General formatting (bold, italic etc) is via a mark-up system – which is a bit old school but which wasn’t onerous.
There is also a set of commands you can add. The documentation here was a bit stuck between two stools – some of it pitched for people not used to coding and then some of it just sort of assumes you are already familiar.
It’s easy to attach conditional statements to a bunch of text and so you can fairly quickly make your passages display text conditionally based on where somebody has been or just on random numbers.
The finished story can be exported as HTML and can then be hosted on a website.
No bells or whistles in terms of using the program but easy to start and then build in more interactions as you go.