Well today, we have some advice from the competition's most successful entrant, Zachary Carango, who has one win and two merit awards to his name after making four entries. So for those of you who are thinking of entering (the deadline is the 7th September, so you have plenty of time to plan and write a short gamebook), then here is some sage advice from Zachary:
I guess the best advice I can give is to think about the reader as you're writing. Create an experience that you would want to see in a gamebook.
Putting myself in the reader's shoes has helped me see and improve on flaws in my gamebooks. It's easy to get excited about a certain setting or set of rules. This is good because if you aren't having fun it's much harder to write. You have to be careful too, because it's really all for someone else.
With Red World, I had a decent system, but a boring setting. There was stuff to do, but no real reason to do it.
With Above the Waves, I had a decent story, but a system that restricted choices. After all the passwords and item checks there were only a few places the reader actually got to decide anything.
I think I did a better job with Final Payment. The story was strong enough to keep people reading but simple enough to allow for meaningful choices. The system is supposed to give the reader more to do by adding a layer of interaction outside of the written choices.