Composing Interactive Fiction 3: Story Choices and Twine

(Note: This is part of a short series I am sharing about trying out Interactive Fiction as a writer. On Sunday, I shared out the overall experience. Yesterday, I shared outthe first story that I wrote, and well as provided some advice on how to play it. Today, I went in another direction, using a free software program called Twine. Later in the week, I will try to share out resources that I have discovered and maybe tinker with some other Interactive Fiction possibilities. – Kevin)

IF FictionPage

I found Twine, a free software program that allows you to make Interactive Fiction, from my friend, Chad, in one of his comments at my blog this week. (Twine is also the name of the new Twitter video app, but they are different programs altogether.) Twine is a program that allows you to map out choices that a reader might make in a story, and then it moves them along various story arcs via hyperlinks. It’s a sort of Make Your Own Ending program.

Here is a map to a story that I created, called Here There Everywhere. I like the visual element of story construction and Twine uses that interface as its main element of design of writing.

Twine

Twine is very different from Inform, which is the software unpinning of Playfic, which I used earlier this week.

In Playfic, the reader/player needs to know the commands that will move you through an environment. It is very language-based. With Twine, you just need to make a choice and follow the link left by the writer. In terms of true Interaction Fiction, I think Playfic is the better choice because it becomes more of a game than just a story. In terms of ease of use, Twine wins hands-down, although it is less of game and more of a story.

And as I think about how to bring this idea of Interactive Fiction into my sixth grade classroom for a writing experience, Twine takes the cake. If you learn just a few simple steps, you can be writing a story within minutes. (But Playfic might be a logical extension activity for some students who “get it” and want more. See my story — What To Write With When You Are Writing story as my own example from the other day.)

A nice thing about Twine is that it resembles an HTML editor in a lot of ways, so you can embed video, images, audio, etc, as long as they are hosted somewhere online. You can then embed the code right into the story. I did that with my story by adding a video intro and outro to the my story, just as an experiment, and it worked like a charm. One issue with Twine (but not with Playfic) is that the program lives on your computer, so if you want to share your story with the world, you need to host it online. Twine does its part to make it simple, though, by creating your story in a single HTML file.

Here’s an easy way to host your file. Use the new Google Drive feature. (Essentially, you create a public folder and pop the HTML file in there, and share the preview link.) That’s what I did with my Twine story. It’s a relatively simple and pretty effective way to host a HTML file. The guy who developed Twine has also developed a bunch of easy-to-follow video tutorials and Chad pointed me to another post that has an easy walk-through of the basics of Twine.

Check out my story: Here There Everywhere.

Let me know what you think of the story and my reflections. I’m sorting this out as I go, inspired by NWP friend Jason Sellers post on NWP’s Digital Is about Interactive Fiction.

Peace (in the storybuilding),
Kevin

 

4 Comments
  1. I dig all the embeds you pulled off, Kevin – I think I might try to make a style node soon to brighten the default UI.

    I’ll share out some of my student’s work in a bit, too – I’m really enthused to see how she programs variables and the idea of a reader/plater inventory into her story.

    I’m glad Twine seems useful to you in the classroom!

    All the best,
    C

      • From the tutorial site:

        “Finally, if you know CSS you can edit the CSS of the finished webpage your story will become. Create a new passage, and in the “Tags” area type “stylesheet” (it has to be all lowercase!). Then you can write CSS rules in that passage, and Twine will apply them to your finished story. Here’s a list of different elements you can customize.”

        That list is here.

        We could also start a doc or something to mess with style formats if that would be helpful :)

        Best,
        C

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