THE NEOPETS STORY TREE
WELCOME TO THE STORY TREE!
What is a Story Tree?
Enter the Story Tree!
Apply to become a Story Tree writer
Writing Guidelines for the Story Tree
Specific Writing Issues for this Tree
Story Tree Features!
Notes about the Story Tree system itself
What is a Story Tree?
The Story Tree is based on the story concept at Addventure.com.
It is an expansion on the traditional "continued story", in which players take turns continuing a given
story. The tree lets each episode have multiple continuations, and not just one, which gives you a
"tree of possibilities". The net result is similar to one of the "Choose your own adventure" stories, with
new episodes being added by the reader. The Story Tree system here limits the number of new links that
an episode can have to no more than five. If the episode you're reading has less than five others
branching from it, you'll see an option that lets you tell us what happens next!
Writing Guidelines for the Story Tree
1. It must be in Neopia
Any episode added to this story takes place in Neopia. Where? When? Anywhere, and anywhen.
Make it a known or unknown land, underwater, in outer space, in the distant past, or
even the far future. That is irrelevent. What MUST be true is that the planet it happens on or
around is Neopia.
2. No explicit sex
So call me a spoilsport. But if your characters just won't do anything else, give the reader
the mercy of being shut out on the FAR side of the bedroom door. We really don't want
to know, ok? Love scenes are great, and I hope they enjoy themselves- but if they have
to express their "love" physically, it happens while no one else is around.
3. No detailed violence
This one isn't quite as clearcut as the previous one. Violence, as in something bad happening
to or between characters (in a physical, verbal, or other sense) isn't prohibited. What is
prohibited are passages whose purpose is nothing more than to give unnecessary details of gory
scenes. If it's bloody, say blood was everywhere and let it go at that. Throw in a couple
of adjectives if they help the mood, but we have our own imaginations and we're here to
have fun, not to see who can make the other the sickest.
4. No explicit language
"Mild" profanity will probably not be picked up by this rule, but anything of a "heavy duty" or
totally foul nature is out. There are several alternatives to foul language, anyway. Use some imagination!
If nothing else, just simply using the terms "cursed", "swore", or "called parentage into question" will work
quite nicely. Another thing to remember is that when you're dealing with neopets, you're dealing with creatures
who have their own physical characteristics and outlook on life. Using "swear language" appropriate to a neopet
can be a way of showing off those differences. For instance, a kyrii, who treats their hairdo as
the most important thing next to life itself, may consider the term "bald" or "bald-headed" a horrible
suggestion worthy only of the most foul language!
5. Respecting other authors
If you want to use another author's character, then you should get their permission.
If they have started an episode with their character in it, that may be taken as
implicit permission. Whenever you use a character that is already "established", try
your level best to stay within that character and treat them "seriously". Do not
take the chance to say "ah hah, xxx is in here, so I can treat him/her as a helpless
doll to exercise my bad feelings towards so and so"! Author "wars" in which characters
are abused instead of used will find themselves deleted.
Specific Writing issues about this Story Tree System
Continuity is a fancy term meaning that the things mentioned in your story have
to stay consistent with each other. For instance, if Joan puts a silver earring
in her pocket in one episode, the next episode can't have her pulling a gold one
back out- unless you want to explain why it changed color (two different earrings,
maybe?). This is a problem with normal continued stories, but even more so with
Story Trees. In a story tree, you need to maintain continuity ONLY WITHIN A SINGLE
PLOT LINE! For example, Tyrell walks up to Hubert and tries to decide what to order.
Option one has him ordering a hot dog with extra mustard. Option two has him ordering
a hot dog with no mustard. Now, all the episodes that branch from link one need to
have him talking about EXTRA mustard, and all the episodes that branch from link two
need to have him eating a PLAIN hot dog! How to keep track of what's what? One
way is to check the "Story so far" link before you add an episode. (Check that
feature out below.) Another way will be through character profiles, hopefully,
but that hasn't been fully implemented as I write this.
Person, Second or Third?
When you start to read this story tree, it starts out in second person. "You do
this." "You do that." Then later it starts dropping into third person- "She said
this." and "He did that." What's the deal? Well, the normal way to write a story
is in third person. But I wanted to provide options for as many different stories
as possible, so I started it out in a library. The idea is that a library has lots
of stories (books) in it, and when you start to read one, another story is started.
So the second person "you" in the library can safely shift to the third person "she"
or "he". How you account for that is up to you- the way that it's being done for
the first few stories is that the books are magic, and you "become" part of the
story. (Think 'The Pagemaster')
How long should an episode be?
Episodes are restricted to 6,000 characters, max. That's approximately one
thousand words, which should be way more than you need. Most episodes probably
won't go over four to five hundred words, and may only be three or four sentences.
Actual length is less important than content. The ideal episode must consist of
1. Something happens. This is what you will mention in the
link that you create to your episode. Some sort of decision must be made, event must
happen, etc, to justify your episode's existence.
2. It must quit with a point which requires another
decision or event to happen. You'll want to provide a "hook" if at all possible.
e.g. "Kailin groaned and sat up, looking around and finding that..." end it
there and let others add options as to what's being found!
Note that these are the same two tips that you have for a normal "storytelling
competition" episode! It's really the same thing, except with multiple branches!
Story Tree Features
Or, a list of features made to improve your tree-reading experience
View Recent Episodes
This link is at the top of most Story Tree pages, and is essential to anyone wanting
to keep up with current writing activity in the tree! It lists episodes that have
been written in the past one to seven days, and can sort them with either the
most recent on top, or the oldest on top. (The oldest might work best if you're
going back a whole week to catch up, and want to see new episodes in the order
that they were written in, rather than catching a new episode three or four levels
down from where you left off.) The default length is one day, the default order
is with the most recent on top. Note that the time length means exactly that- it
calculates the days ago from the second you hit the link, so going back "one day"
may list episodes in the morning that aren't there in the evening! One day means
the last twenty four hours, or 86,400 seconds, whichever floats your boat. Check
it all out here.
This utility lists all of the sub-episodes down to five levels from the current
episode that you are viewing! It's a great way to see what's been written, and checking
for something new in an area that you're interested in. Also, by giving you the
titles, it lets you quickly jump to another part of the tree to something that
attracts your interest. Check out what the view looks like from the root episode-
Back to Parent Episode
This option appears at the top of all episodes except the first one. It's simple
enough- clicking it takes you to the episode which happened immediately before the
one you read. If you keep clicking it, you can back up one episode at a time
all the way to the beginning of the tree. (There's a faster and better way to
do that, read on.) This is good if you have a question about action in an episode
which can probably be resolved by looking back one step. "He walked in wearing a
furry party hat? Where did that come from?"
Read Story so Far
Lots of times when you read an episode, you'll have no idea how the characters
got into their current situation. Other times, you may know, but you need to be
sure you've got the right plot line, because of key differences in earlier decisions.
(e.g. so you're on a magical quest- now was that key supposed to be in a volcano, or
a glacier?) That's where this feature comes in! At the top of every episode
(except the first one, of course) is a link which says "Read Story so Far".
Clicking it brings up a page with all of the episodes in that story line,
starting at the beginning, and working down to your current one! At each step
it tells you which decision was made to get to the next, and there is also a
link that lets you jump directly to any particular episode in the line. Want
to try it out? Just find an episode and hit the link, or try an example
If you think the continuity problems mentioned so far are confusing, they get
even worse when you consider jump links! Jump links look like normal episode
choices. The only difference is that instead of creating a new episode, they
will "jump" to another, already existing, episode. It's a useful tool IF you know
what you're doing. If not, it could lead to disaster, with people reading stories
that shift wildly and with no rhyme or reason. That's why this option is restricted
to more experienced writers. If you enjoy the experience of working with a story
tree, and think you're ready to try the possibilities offered by jump links,
email me, and we'll talk!
For the rest of you, wondering where jump links are, there are a couple of
practical considerations. For one, if you're reading forward and suddenly
decide to "view backwards" by either the "parent episode" link or the
"read story so far" link, you'll find that the line back is different than
what you read! That's because the existing episode recognizes the "original
creator" as its parent, not the one that connects to it via a jump link. For
another thing, Viewing Branches will quit when it hits a jump link, will
note that, and have a link to view it from the new spot. This helps to
eliminate bloat caused by listing the same part of the tree twice, or even
looping if the jump link jumps back into its own "upline".
At the bottom of some pages, you will see a list of characters. These links
bring up a page with some 'vital stats' about that character. This is the
start of a much more extensive system that I have/had planned, but it has
never been implemented. Since I am not currently developing the system, this
feature is more a curiosity than anything else. Check out the few profiles
in the tree and enjoy them is all I can say.
Notes about the Story Tree System
The Story Tree system is very much a system that is not a finished product. There are many things
yet to be done and possible ideas yet to be explored. It consists of a set of
php scripts which store their data in a mysql database. That's it! I am contemplating
making versions for free public release at some future date, but as of this writing,
I don't have enough created (and certainly no documentation for what I have done), so you'll
simply have to play with it here.
NOW GO HAVE FUN!