There are an increasing number of books that offer guidance on writing interactive fiction, on writing for games in general, and on the theory of interaction in ways that might be useful to an IF author. Where I have written a review, the links below lead to that review; otherwise, where possible they lead to Amazon, where you can check out what other people have said about a resource.
- IF Theory Reader. Primarily focused on parser interactive fiction, this is a collection of IF articles prepared by the community. Available in electronic formats for free, or as a paperback for a print-on-demand price. It takes on a range of topics focusing on both theory and craft, and includes short histories of French and Italian interactive fiction as well as the evolution of English-language IF during roughly 1990-2005. A Kindle version is also available, though for a cost (which I think goes to the person who made said conversion).
- Digital Antiquarian is a blog rather than a physical book (so far), but it contains many many well written, book-chapter-quality posts on the early history of interactive fiction, often with in-depth coverage of individual games and companies during the 80s, but not focused exclusively on Infocom (as many lesser histories often are). Let’s Tell A Story Together is earlier work by the same author and offers a more high-level view, but one that runs up closer to the present.
- Twisty Little Passages is not a how-to guide to writing IF, but it contains a history of the medium and some theory about what makes IF work, which may be of interest to authors.
Theory and Interpretation
- Interactive Digital Narrative: History, Theory, and Practice is an edited academic volume collecting input from researchers in digital storytelling, especially those who frequently come together at the ICIDS conference.
- Videogames for Humans. Readings of a variety of Twine pieces by different authors, game critics and others. Includes a reading of Maddox Pratt’s Anhedonia by me.
- Command Lines: Aesthetics and Technique in Interactive Fiction and New Media (dissertation by Jeremy Douglass). Features close readings of Shade, Aisle, Slouching Towards Bedlam, and others.
- Avatars of Story, an overview of many kinds of digital storytelling, including IF, hypertext, and others.
- Second Person, a wide-ranging and hugely interesting book about story in all sorts of games and new media constructs, including table-top board games, RPGs, video games, IF, ARGs, location-based game exhibits, and more. Must read for people interested in the theoretical underpinnings of interactive story, and how such stories can be valuable. (Disclaimer: I contributed a small thing to it. That’s not why I’m recommending it, though.)
- First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game. A somewhat more theoretical precursor to Second Person and perhaps offering less insight into craft. Nonetheless, First Person does contain some interesting material, including an article by Nick Montfort on approaches to interactive fiction.
Writing and Design
- Writing Interactive Fiction with Twine, by Melissa Ford. Pitched at younger writers, it offers a detailed introduction to Twine’s various functional capabilities, combined with advice about how to write effective prose and stories. Sort of straddles the line between a writing/design book and a coding book.
- Creative Writing in the Digital Age includes a chapter on teaching creative writing with Inform 7, as well as approaches using a number of other technologies.
- A Game Design Vocabulary: Exploring the Foundational Principles Behind Good Game Design includes a good introductory chapter on game storytelling, which includes discussion of techniques in choice-based and parser-based IF as well as other types of game.
- Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling, a highly opinionated, sometimes infuriating, but still genuinely valuable approach to procedural storytelling. Crawford doesn’t have much time for conventional IF, and says so, but many of his dictates about what works for interactive stories are still worth thinking about.
- Writing for Video Game Genres: From FPS to RPG. Contains a chapter on writing for IF, by veteran author J. Robinson Wheeler.
- Creating Interactive Fiction with Inform 7, by Aaron Reed. It offers an extensive coverage of Inform 7 from a different angle than that in the built-in manual.
- Gaming Hacks contains some Inform tips and code from Adam Cadre and Andrew Plotkin.
- The Inform Designer’s Manual, the comprehensive manual for Inform 6. More or less a requirement if you’re planning to write in Inform 6, though it is also available free in online form.
- The Inform Beginner’s Guide, a gentle introduction for Inform 6 users.
- Teaching Literacy in the Digital Age contains a chapter on IF and student engagement.
- Rise of the Videogame Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Drop-outs, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form. Part how-to, part manifesto about the value of indie games and their use giving voice to traditionally marginalized groups, including parser IF and Twine work.
- Tom Bissell’s Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter (related essay here). Not a book about IF at all, but it touches on ways that games can be emotionally effective, which by extension has some implications for interactive fiction.
- A Theory of Fun For Game Design, not especially IF-focused at all, but interesting.