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Exploring Visual Novels

As you may know if you subscribe to my newsletter, life has gotten the best of me this past month. I haven’t updated my website, I’ve fallen behind on book reviews. Want to know a secret? I’ve barely written, either.

This is what happens during major life changes. For my family, it’s been a positive change. We purchased a new house, and we will be working on it (and trying to bring in extra cash for it) for the next few months. This doesn’t leave a lot of time for writing, unfortunately.

As any writer knows — writing doesn’t pay the bills. It’s a passion project, not a job.

I have had some time to listen to books, though. I’ve been listening to Audible’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. Although I never read the original graphic novels, I have found the audio version to be particularly immersive, and I am particularly intrigued at the possible adaptation by Netflix. What can I say? There’s a certain charm to the brooding immortal male that I find irresistible. Plus, apparently Gaiman’s writing is lush. Here’s where I admit I’ve never read him. Never thought he was my type. But maybe I need to give him a try.

I have had one issue with the story so far. When telling the love story between Dream and Nada, there are two stories. One is passed down through the men and another through the women. After the old man shares his version, an old woman teases at the female version, but says it is for women only. As a woman listener, that felt a bit alienating, as if the story is made for a male audience.

I’ve also been exploring some CYOA and visual novels on itch.io. This is of particular interest to me because I want to, someday, pull off a story in this form and so far I feel like I’ve fallen short of what the possibilities offer. Unlike graphic novels on the page, these offer a bit of movement and music that can immerse the reader and sweep them along.

Two I’ve liked in particular are by Angela He. One is called There’s This Girl which has beautiful interaction and motion to it, but is definitely a story instead of a CYOA.

Another of her stories is called I woke up next to you again. It has a slight hint of soul-sucking and reminds me a lot of Lain, Serial Experiments, which was a great throw-back to late-teenage angst and love for me. It is beautifully drawn and is a CYOA without a lot of conditional logic.

So that’s what I’ve been doing as far as reading goes this month. It has been a nice escape for my mind while I’m stressed out with too many decisions for the house.

I’d love to hear if you have recommendations for particularly beautiful visual novels similar to these by Angela He. Also, sorry I haven’t been around much lately. I hope to be posting more stories of the weird and whatnot soon.

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