It’s been a little while since I’ve talked about it on this blog, but for those unaware, I finished up my Twitter-based choose your own adventure story, Project Tasman, at the beginning of September. The story spanned from just after Thanksgiving 2019 until Labor Day of 2020, was over 70,000 words long, and had amazing engagement from a ton of readers.
As part of wrapping up the story, I’ve posted the story as it was decided in its entirety to Wattpad. If you haven’t had a chance to read Project Tasman yet, but want to experience the story as it was decided on by the Twitter polls, go give it a read. I’ll be posting alternate endings that weren’t chosen to the story over the coming months.
The last item I said I would do as part of Project Tasman was a Q&A session about the story. I’ve been gathering Q&A questions since early in the story and will answer as many as I can here. I’m going to keep my answers a bit more condensed here — otherwise you’d be reading a 10,000 word piece. That said, I will be expanding on a few of these answers in a Q&A podcast I’ll be posting publicly on my Patreon. That podcast will be available to everyone, so no need to pledge to listen (though I’d be grateful if you did).
Also — massive spoilers ahead for the whole story. If you’d rather not be spoiled, go read Project Tasman via the links above and come back here after.
What’s the biggest thing you’d change if you could start over with the story?
This is by far the question that I got the most frequently throughout the story. That said, it’s also the easiest to answer. I would change the whole concept of the changing names/false names that I had in the story. I had that idea at the very beginning of the story before I realized how insanely confusing that’d be to write. If I did it again, I’d limit the name changes to Carrie, Brielle, and Quinn. In Carrie’s case, the name change is needed to preserve the twist for her character. In Brielle’s case, it becomes critical to her identity in certain endings. And in Quinn’s case, she literally had a name change, so there’s no avoiding it for her.
You initially mentioned this would be a month-long project. What changed it into the novel-length project we have now?
I really got into the story. That’s pretty much the sole reason I kept going with it.
As for what I initially planned, I had this idea that the player character of the story, Alana, would be killing someone at the end of the story. And the premise was going to be that Alana was trying to solve this puzzle like a murder mystery to figure out who around her was the killer. Then at the end, she’d realize the killer was her. I still love this idea, but not for this story.
Why do you think there was so much shipping in this story, specifically the Brilana ship and the throuple ship between Quinn/Brielle/Alana?
Shippers gonna ship.
That said, I think people ship as a way to live vicariously through certain characters and what they want for that character (or themselves). The Brielle and Alana ship makes sense because Brielle is overtly sexual and uses it to her advantage against Alana. And I think people find that intriguing, which makes the shipping easy. As for the throuple shipping, I think that came about as a natural extension of Brielle being into Alana, as well as the fact that Quinn is polyamorous. I don’t personally ship it, but I get where it comes from. I did pay homage to this in the chosen ending — and it’s the only ending that could have been picked where this reference existed.
There was a poll in Arn’s loop where we had to choose a D&D alignment. You mentioned there was an alternative naming system you’d considered. What was it?
Your reaction was going going to be on some sort of scale between Lawful and Chaotic on one axis and Playful and Sexy on the other. That said, I never found a scale I liked and that fit, so I scrapped it.
Are there any scenes you felt limited in writing because of the Twitter format?
There are two scenes that jump out here. The first is the suicide discussion between Alana and Mel in Alana’s loop. I couldn’t go into this discussion as much as I’d wanted because I didn’t want to accidentally trigger random passersby. That said, I had a much lengthier, more open-ended discussion between them initially planned.
The other scene is the shower scene with Alana and Quinn at the end of Arn’s loop. It’s the one where Quinn and Alana are in the shower together after having a popcorn fight before Alana breaks down from the trauma and torture that is Project Tasman. If I weren’t writing for Twitter and the public forum, that scene would have gone on much longer — both the sexual nature that it starts out being and Alana’s eventual meltdown. I think it’s arguably the one time in the story where a very intimate scene (and I say that both sexually and then emotionally between Quinn and Alana) is needed and should have been done in deeper detail. But people get kind of pissy if you try to write erotica on Twitter, so I chose not to.
Why was Jeff such an inconsistent character?
Jeff was never meant to be anything more than a throwaway character. But then he became a bit of a meme early in the story, so I gave him a bigger role. This isn’t the first time I’ve had an ascended extra in a story, but it’s the first time they’ve been a hated character. I finally figured out how I wanted to write him. The problem was that it took nearly three-quarters of the story for me to find his voice. For most of the story, he was more plot device than character. This would be one of my first changes in a re-write.
Why would anyone want to kill Carrie?
Even though this was the chosen ending, I’d argue no one actually wanted to kill Carrie. That’s kind of the point of the moral quandary that I ended up going with as the theme of the story. Even when given that level of ultimate power, most people would struggle with deciding how to use it. And it’s completely understandable why.
I think the reason Carrie was chosen is because there was such a low likelihood of survival from her car crash. There is an ending where she does survive and that ending is my headcanon ending. But I get why people chose to have Carrie die.
What’s the worst choice we (the Twitter voters) made?
I don’t think there were any directly terrible choices made. The shippers taking control of Noel’s loop was the most ill-advised choice made, in that you learned next to nothing about Noel. But even this wasn’t completely a negative.
One one hand, ignoring Noel forced you to learn that Carrie and Sabrina are one and the same a full loop early. This lessened the impact of that twist, in my opinion. Had you learned about it on time, it would have happened at the end of Carrie’s loop. Readers would have gone through Carrie’s whole cloudcookoolander persona time, only to be hit with the wham twist of her identity at the end of the loop. And I think this would have hit REALLY hard.
However, that would have also locked you into a path where you make a choice about killing Arn at the beginning of his loop. The choice would have been either to kill Arn then, antagonize him, or question his motives. The former would have ended the story just after its midpoint. Antagonizing him would have locked you into a path where either you kill Noel, you kill Arn, or you die. The only way out of that would have been to question Arn’s motives — but by avoiding Noel, you also avoided turning on hard mode for the rest of the story.
By ignoring Noel, you also locked yourself out of the choice to kill Quinn. This is probably for the best, as the ending where you kill Quinn is a massive downer.
What’s your preferred ending to the story, both as a reader and as the author?
As a reader, I really like the ending we got. It’s bittersweet in that Carrie dies. But nearly everyone else gets what they deserve. Arn is shunned. Noel is in prison still. Quinn gets her happy life and maybe her desired polyamory. Brielle gets to work in a hotel in the Netherlands and maybe have the relationship she wants with Alana. Alana is at peace with everything she has to do.
As the author, I most wanted us to have the ending where Arn dies. Once I started planning it out, I made it where there’s only one ending where Carrie survives, and that’s the ending where Arn dies. In that ending, you have medical POA over Carrie now, but don’t need to consider euthanasia because she recovers miraculously. Brielle gets out and gets everything she does in the ending we got — except that she feels she needs a clean break from Quinn and Alana for her mental health. Noel stays stuck in Project Tasman. It’s all the good things about White Ending 1, plus Carrie lives in exchange for no polyamorous ending with Brielle.
As a side note, I’m treating the Yellow/Arn ending as the canon ending for any future projects you might see with these characters.
Who was your favorite character to write?
Carrie. Writing her actions and dialogue was so simple. I just said to myself “what is the most absurd response possible to this scenario?”. And that’s what Carrie did. She’s capable of being serious — especially as Sabrina — but that didn’t need to come through much here.
Who was your favorite character in general?
Quinn. I adore her character and her backstory. She’s the closest I’ve ever written to a me-level hopeless romantic in a story. If I re-write this story, that’ll come out more.
Who was your least favorite character to write?
I want to say Jeff, but that was more because I didn’t know what I was doing with him for most of the story. If I’m objective about it, the answer is probably Arn. He was one of two really morally gray characters in the story, the other being Brielle. While I think I did a pretty good job of developing Brielle in such a way that people were still rooting for her even if they didn’t like her, Arn was meant to be more of a character that you didn’t like even if you understood where he was coming from and could potentially empathize with him. And I think he just came off as a total dick in most cases.
Who was your least favorite character in general?
Noel. Fuck Noel.
Was there a scene that we didn’t get to see that you wish we had?
There’s a scene I’d originally written for the end of Noel’s loop where you end up hiding in Quinn’s room while she’s sleeping. This same premise happens in the version of the story you all got to see, but the key difference here is that she wakes up in the loop where you stay with Noel. Remember, in that loop not only are you and Quinn not together and you’re back with Noel, but Quinn is very broken up about it.
The scene in question features Alana talking to Quinn about how she’s scared about Project Tasman without specifically explaining why or what’s going on. And Quinn gets very protective of her. The scene gave a bit of foreshadowing to Quinn’s darker past. It was also meant to reinforce the fact that she loves Alana unconditionally, even if that love isn’t returned. Because, again, I adore Quinn and she’s insanely loving.