Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Thesis!

A while back, I barked about my love of choose-your-own-adventure books and how I would really like for someone to write one for adults. Then, last night, I was thinking about my thesis (as I often do these days) and how I sort of wish it was a choose-your-own-adventure thesis. Sadly, it’s not. But then I thought, wait! It totally could be! In blog form! Kind of!

So, what I’ve done here is break the stories in my thesis down into their essential components and put these components into categories. Pick one or two or three or four items from each category, jam them together to create your very own brand new story!

Yes, I know it’s not exactly the traditional choose-your-own-adventure format where you pick whether the protagonist fights the evil wizard or goes home to eat a ham sandwich, then turn to page 93 to find out what happens. But I think this is better because it gives the reader waaaaay more creative control (in fact, it’s almost like you’re writing the story yourself….hmmm…). And I’ll admit I found constructing this to be delightfully self-indulgent. Ridiculously self-indulgent. Like taking a bubble bath in my own work. Come, won’t you get in this warm, frothy, self-indulgent bathtub with me?


Characters (Pick 2)

A teenage anarchist

A cynical journalist

A lonely grad student

A (alleged) meth dealer

A slacker boyfriend

A widower

A friendly receptionist

A dead lady who can see the future

Two nosy neighbors

A precocious preschooler

A sexy pilot

Another lonely grad student


Settings (Pick 1)

A diner

A house


A downtown street corner

A medical testing facility

A cemetery

A synagogue


The future!

The Pacific Ocean



Animals (Pick 1)

A dog (breed unknown)

A giant amorphous squid-type thing

A baby octopus in a bucket

A (alleged) tiger

An albatross (maybe)

Two cats

Some fish


Objects (Pick several)

A button

A slice of Boston cream pie

A toy rocket ship

A map for blind people


Single serving packets of Crystal Light

A Panama hat

A broken radio

Three stolen cans of beer



Sources of Tension (Pick 1-2)

Lost cat

Missing husband

Neighbors won’t stop having loud sex

Wife wants a baby, husband does not

Dead wife

No one on this boat knows how to drive this boat

Crummy economy

It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)


Miscellaneous Tools & Tricks (Pick 1-4)

An unreliable narrator

Gratuitous use of the word “fuck”

No commas

Never disclosing the gender of the narrator

Never putting quotes around dialogue


Diary entries!

Some allusions to British poetry

Another unreliable narrator


Now put them all together and frolic about in the new fiction reality you’ve created! Such fun! Such whimsy! Thesis whimsy! Exclamation point!


  • Mary says:

    You know, thesis is not the end of your life. You could, in fact, still write a choose your own adventure for adults, and I would read it!

  • Scott says:

    Read the amazing exploits of a precocious preschooler with a penchant for saying “fuck” and an (alleged) meth dealer as they face the common trials and tribulations of our modern times; primarily rationing an ever-shrinking supply of Crystal Light and arguing over the proper wardrobe of two feral cats in a local cemetary. “You better not remove that fucking Panama hat from that fucking grey one,” the preschooler will say. “But it looks better on the black one! The leggings look best on the grey one. And stop hogging all the Crystal Light. You know they haven’t made that stuff since 1991,” the (alleged…ALLEGED, they can’t prove anything!) meth dealer would reply. But bigger problems were looming, as they both realized that neither of them knew how to drive the boat! It’s a cemetary boat! The unreliable narrator failed to mention that! (I’ll take my MFA now, please).

  • Cathie Smathie says:

    >>Now put them all together and frolic about in the new fiction reality you’ve created! Such fun! Such whimsy! Thesis whimsy! Exclamation point!<< HAHAHAHA

    This is so much fun!! You rock my world, Leyna Krow.
    Here's my story. Literally:
    Another lonely grad student, in a diner, with a dog, eating boston pie (in a tiny rocket ship??), in a crummy economy using the word FUCK way too much and maybe roaming the streets of a nearby city looking in windows.


  • Jonathan Frey Jonathan Frey says:

    This is great. I kind of want to steal this list and use it as a writing exercise.

  • Brendan Lynaugh says:

    This is excellent. I would choose: Another lonely grad student and a precocious pre-school,a synagogue, two cats, dead wife and neighbors won’t stop having sex, no commas and an unreliable narrator.

  • Rosie says:

    A lonely grad student [lives as a mermaid beneath] the Pacific Ocean [with] two cats [who stare at her from a submarine nearby and subsist on] a slice of Boston cream pie. [The grad student turned into a mermaid to flee the] crummy economy [and puts her] diary entries [into discarded bottles of Pepsi and sends them to friends and family via the pipes.]

    (You have a lot of characters, man!)

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