Obviously, the real difference between regular and IF novels is in the participation. The doing, rather than following.
The prose should adapt to IF keeping in mind one particular thing, imo. In a novel, the writer can move you around and force you to read any detail about a given object, scene or whatever as he wants: he can turn away from the said detail when he wants. In IF, that is not the case and giving false hopes (in terms of things one could do with an object) with glossy text is a mistake. I made this mistake too many times already.
What can save the barracks, though, is that one doesn't really have to give cop-outs for any single object in a certain room. Just give description (the best description you can) of what you want and leave the rest out of the game
A living room has a big table, chairs around it, a cupboard, a cat in a corner, windows on three sides of the room, a painting, an armchair, a carpet, a candelabra, appliques on the walls for lighting and at least three-billion insects of every shape and size hiding somewhere. You don't REALLY WANT to add all of this to the game if it is unnecessary. Just REMOVE the content you are not wiling to let the player interact with. Leave what you want to describe (the gazillion insects is scenery, but can be interesting scenery--for a joke if anything else) and DROP DEAD the rest. No one will think "oh my god how UNFURNISHED this room is".
What you put in, by the way, should have a description.
In a game I'm lazily trying to produce these months, I'm having an opening scene in a certain place with 2 characters having a conversation. It is all pointless: it is just there to give an unexpected beginning to the story and to propel the atmosphere with a CSI-like final-sentence-before-the-titles. The surroundings are barely described. BUT. Once you wander around a bit with your "sight", it happens some object lead to others, and others, and others. You can even do unnecessary things like interacting with the ground, or looking in a direction. This doesn't change the game, it's just there for eye candy. If you WANT to interact, it rewards you with some bit of (inglisc
, atm) prose. If you DON'T WANT you can skip with no problem at all. When "looking west" you discover a fistful of birds circling a rocky formation. You can examine the birds and they are not "just the same old bunch of birds circling a rocky formation". Had it be that way, there would have been no birds circling no thing.
One final thing about describing and giving false hopes. I'm not good at all in this, but follow me please.
When describing, try to foresee what you want or don't want to implement. With the accent on DON'T WANT.
A table with "chairs around it" is a sparse description that can lead to something or can lead to nothing. A table "with six
chairs around it" is a puzzle. You will have to write code for every single chair 'cause eventually players will try and do something to those chairs when stuck. Also, "a large dining table" can be enough. What did you mentally summon? A table with no chair or a table with [insert number here] chairs around it? A "large portrait on the north wall"? Is there a frame around it? Isn't it wooden? Is it a panting, right? A dark, brown-hued one, right?
Check this (quoted) passage
from a book On Writing by a very talented writer. That's what I mean.