Advice and Examples for Short Story IF

Hey everybody! I’m new around here and to IF in general. I guess an introduction post is more standard, but I sort of wanted to dive right into asking for some guidance on writing short fiction.

I’ve been doing a lot of research on common mistakes and troubleshooting for starting out writing IF, and I want my first project to be thorough but short. Do you have any advice on writing short interactive fiction? Or good examples of short fiction created by the community? Most IF I’m familiar with is pretty lengthy; I’m looking to write something you can play in an hour tops (but is well polished) for my first project. So I’m trying to learn more about structure and design for short fiction, and get examples of similar projects, but I haven’t been able to find good resources. I’m hoping you guys might be able to help me out :slight_smile:

I’m looking forward to meeting everyone and contributing to the community!


Join a game jam :smiley:
A lot of them last from a week to a whole month, meaning you have a short amount of time to create something :stuck_out_tongue:
(there are many announced in Competitions throughtout the year, and plenty happening over on

For examples, I would recommend going through previous short jams like the EctoComp (one category forces creator to make a game in 4h) or the Recipe Jam (1-week long jam); the Twiny Jam, Neo Twiny Jam, Fortnight Fiction Jam, Partim500 and Nouvim3000 for limited word counts (between 300 and 3000 words); or other games jams with restrictions (like SingleChoice Jam). There’s a non exhaustive list of competitions and game jams on the IFWIki.

As for examples of short games, there also was a Short Game Showcase last December, for short games released in 2023. You can also find short games on the IFDB with the following tags: short, short fiction, short game, short games, short if, short length, short narrative, short story.

Finally an advice: scope. Keep it super and simple tiny. That’s how you’ll manage to create a short game. Think of a simple idea (eg: player needs to make a meal, goes fishing, has to deliver an object, is going on a drive, etc…) and build from there. The less you complicate things, the easier it is.
Or give yourself restrictions: only use one choice (like the SingleChoice Jam) or a certain amount of words (forces you to be concise in writing), or the story can only span a day/hour/minute…

Aaarrghhh EDIT:
Welcome to the community! Hope you have fun making games with us :smiley:


That does not equal “simple” … I went way overboard with the Single Choice idea :smiley: .

Welcome to the community!


That’s because you forgot the scope :joy:


Thank you! And welcome to the IF community, it’s going to be one hell of a ride!

There are plenty of small-scale and low-stakes game jams. These are hosted mostly on and are usually unranked, so it’s a good idea to simply participate and throw your hat into the ring.

What medium do you prefer? It depends. We have the Text Adventure Literacy Jam for parser style, and the Neo Twiny Jam (the one with the 500 word limit) for choice style. Some jams have themes or special rules, like the Smoochie (romance), Recipe, Single-Choice (it’s in the name), etc.

Oh, also, please keep the scope not too large, otherwise your audience will take longer than an hour to finish. Hint: fairy tales are a good place (read: plot points) to start.

Edit: Know your target audience too. Know what they like, then it’ll be easier to find a market.

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Definitely look through the games from the recent Short Game Showcase. They were nearly all written for comps that put limitations on authors: extremely short time limit, or limited interactivity, or limited word count. Maybe one of those formats will tickle your fancy.

There’s also SeedComp coming right up. Submissions are due in a little over 2 weeks, so you’d necessarily have to make a small game to get something in on time. That’s a good place to dip your toe in, because there are so many game ideas submitted for you to pick and choose from, all submitted by IF enthusiasts and authors. So they will be ideas that lend themselves to IF.

You should always, always get something beta tested before submitting it, and you can ask for testers on this forum-- there’s a category for that. You’ll get volunteers who will be really helpful.


welcome to the IF community, Wooliam

As manon suggests, but I suggest to look outside jams, because the platform used (named itch . io ) is classed “nosy” (that is, their cookies & scripts are of questionable behaviour) but one can anonymous DL’ the jam entries (being free, and some even with their sources) w/o much hassles and, most important w/o giving out too personal info, and the jam entry are excellent short IF example, playable in an hour or a pair.

On short IF, you can play my entry to IFComp last year, preferably the 1.5 version, in the if-archive, disregarding the reviews on IFdb, whose refer to the earlier 1.0 IFComp release whose indeed can be played in less than half hour and fully explored in roughly an hour.

also, Amanda’s pointing to the seedComp should be duly considered.

Welcome again, and
Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.

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Thanks for the welcome! I’m looking forward to it!

The Short Game Showcase seems like a good place to look for examples. I’ve been thinking about Competitions since I saw the whole category for it as an opportunity to make something. I guess I’m just nervous about participating :stuck_out_tongue:

Keeping the scope concise is a great note; It’s definitely hard to get carried away if you have a solid boundary like that.


Thanks for all the advice everyone! This gives me a lot of great ideas to start exploring short fiction and jumping in to writing some! I’m looking forward to making some games and getting to know you all better :grin:

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We also have unranked jams for that :wink:
There’s currently the Smoochie Jam running until the end of the month

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I was, too, at first. The great thing about this community is that it’s small and it’s nice. If you write a real stinker, everyone will be honest but kind and give you helpful feedback. Every author here has put out a game that isn’t great, and we’ve all weathered it fine and learned from it. But everyone will help you up front before you ship it, so you can easily get the rough patches smoothed out before publishing.


This is coming from someone who has written simple but profound stuff like After the Accident and The Dying of the Light, so it’s no wonder that works of yours took off.

Works like mine never take off, since they never go anywhere. But I must admit, when I participate, I have no idea about what the outcome will be. I do know that I have a regular group that includes Manon and others that I can hang out with.

The IF community is, as far as I have discovered, small enough that the members are nice and supportive of each other, and large enough that everyone can help each other out. “Helpful” here means constructive yet tactful feedback.

Everyone’s first game will most likely not do well; rarely has anyone hit a home run on their first attempt. What’s important is that you learn from your mistakes. Oh yes, in the forum, you can request for help (by language), and also request for beta-testing.

Good luck and all the best! Hope to see some of your stuff!


And hey! If your first game bombs… you can always edit it to make it better later. That’s the beauty of digital creation, you can always change things :smiley:
Look at this terrible first version of my first game. Went through 2-3 re-writes and a translation to be happy with the final result :stuck_out_tongue:


They both had game-breaking bugs when they were first published. Which were kindly pointed out to me in reviews so I could fix them.

I recall that I couldn’t figure out how to play your short game at all, which is a pity since I always want to play something by everyone. I think focussing on making your games easily playable would get you the feedback you want.