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I want to write a Choose Your Own Adventure styled e-book, what's a good approach?
If you don't remember, Choose Your Own Adventure books had bits of a story, then options for the reader to give them more of a feeling of control in their adventure: "If you want to walk through the dark tunnel, turn to page 16. If you want to take the bridge, turn to page 19."
I want to write a similar book, only a technical manual. My initial thoughts are to write it as a PDF with internal links to various pages, like
"If you already know how to engage the widget,
go to page 60. If you want to learn more about the history of widgets,
visit page 1010.
So, two questions. 1) Can I write it in this style and have the links to pages change dynamically (say I add an entire chapter and it bumps up page 60 to 80 and page 1010 to 1030. 2) Is there recommended software for doing this? Sorry for the noob question, this will be my first venture into writing a book.
Any decent word processor software will allow you to insert cross-references. I've used this quite frequently in Microsoft Word when writing technical documentation for software. It produces a link that the user can simply Ctrl-click to navigate. You can link to a variety of different items within the document.
If you export the document as a PDF the cross-references will be retained as clickable links.
I see that you've decided to go with the PDF option. Not sure that's what I would do because PDF is a standard that carries a bit more baggage than other formats.
I'm not sure about .mobi but I know .epub is just basically common or garden HTML dressed up with a few more tags. As such you can fill it with hyperlinks. I guess .mobi must be similar as you'll find many e-books on kindle include live hyperlinks. I'm not sure how well they work on older non-touch screen e-paper readers but should be fine on touch screens.
Also I wrote a piece of software specifically for drafting this kind of book. It's for windows and it runs off a single .exe I never published it anywhere but if you drop me a line I'll see if I can sort you out with a copy if you're interested.
P.S. This kind of book is, I have found, one of the most difficult kinds of things to write ever, just so's you know.
There is software and an open-source markup standard for that called TWINE. I have not used it myself, but there seems to be a robust community around it.
I actually wrote a piece of software to let you write books like this. It can get really difficult if you're just using a word processor and relying on cross-references (especially if you later want to shuffle up your paragraphs).
The hardest part about writing choose your own adventure books (or gamebooks) I found is visualising how all of the sections fit together. So this software was built from the ground-up to be graph based.
It's called The GameBook Authoring Tool. The free version will let you write 100 sections which hopefully will be enough for your technical manual. You can export to txt, rtf and html formats.