#DigiWriMo Interactive Fiction 1: Making a Playable Story

Story Map The Bike

I’ve been doing my best to bring elements of Digital Writing Month into my sixth grade classroom. We worked on Sound Stories and with images earlier in the month, and now, during this theme of “transmedia,” I have my students working on Interactive Fiction pieces. Interactive fiction is a designed story/game in which the reader is given choices to follow, and every choice branches off into another aspect of the story.

I’ve done these before with Twine, but the freeware didn’t always play nicely with our computers, although the new beta Twine 2.0 as online experience might be worth another look, and hosting the final products has become problematic now that Google Drive has changed the way public folders are set up. Here is a map for a Twine 2 story I did the other day for Digiwrimo:

Twine map

So, with my push this year around digital portfolios within Google Apps for Education, I am teaching my students how to use hyperlinks within a Google Slides project to create Interactive Fiction.

Using Google Slides for this style of writing is not perfect, but it works, and along with creating a non-traditional writing experience, it gives me a chance to teach them more about design and hyperlinks within presentation formats for the purpose of storytelling.

My students are writing historical interactive fiction, as I am connecting our project with work on early civilizations being done in our Social Studies class. Students are writing in second person narrative point of view, of an early human, surviving (or not) in the Ancient World, using sensory details and descriptive writing.

Yes, my students love this Interactive Fiction writing project, although most have never read the Make Your Own Ending stories (I have a class set that we read and talk about) and they are so deeply enmeshed in the writing experience right now. And yes, it is a very complicated writing endeavor. You have to plan for multiple story-lines in a single story experience, and let the reader “play the story,” as I have been saying each day.

Here are a few of their “story maps” — which I require to be done before they even touch a computer.

Interactive fiction maps

I’ll be sharing a bit over the next few days …. including a screenshot tutorial on how you might do similar stories in Google Slides. If you want a taste of what I am talking about, this is an Interactive Fiction piece that I wrote last year as a mentor text for my students (designed more as a mystery story, not historical fiction, which is what we are doing this year).

Come, play my story.

Peace (in the interactive),
Kevin

More Tinkering with Twine

Twining Around

Over at CLMOOC, some folks are playing with Twine this week for Interactive Fiction as game design. That brought me back onto Twine to play around with it a bit, too. Twine is a bit of a learning curve, but not too difficult.

Check out my story

Peace (in the twisting and turning of the twine),
Kevin

What Student Interactive Fiction Story Maps Look Liked

Yesterday, I shared how we are using Google Slides as the platform for Interactive Fiction stories where the writer provides choices for the reader in the narrative. The most important part of that kind of writing the planning of the story itself. It’s easy to get lost in the branches. So, students have to really think through where each and every choice will end up, and storymapping is a critical component of composition.

This is the one that I shared as a Mentor Text with students, and we looked at a few others, too, from the Make Your Own Adventures series of books.

Story Map The Bike

 

Check out a few of the storymaps from my sixth graders:
Interactive Fiction Story Map1

Interactive Fiction Story Map3

Interactive Fiction Story Map2

Makes you wonder what those stories will turn out to be, doesn’t it?

Peace (in the branches),
Kevin

Using Google Slides for Interactive Stories

Story Map The Bike

I almost ran out of time for Interactive Fiction with this year’s classes but then found a way into this very different kind of writing and reading. I had a two-day window to introduce the concept of Interactive Fiction — the kind of writing/reading where the writer leaves choices and the reader is in control. We read Make Your own Ending stories, and do a short writing activity where small stories are written with branches, and then shift to writing longer pieces.

In the past, I have used Twine with students, and while I liked it for the way it shows the visual branches, Twine was acting funky on our laptops last year and two days would never be enough to teach a new technology tool and have them plan/write their own. (If you use Twine, check out this site for tutorials.)

But it occurred to me that they already had a tool at hand: Google Slides. And we had already done much of the groundwork earlier in the year with Digital Poetry books. They knew how to add internal hyperlinks and create a network of paths. So, we dove into Google Slides to create some Interactive Fiction stories. They are not yet done, and even as we work on another story project to end the year (more later), the Interactive Fiction project is a nice extension project for my writers who are already finishing up their short story projects.

I did share my own Interactive Story with students as an example. You play it, too, if you want.

I’ll share out some of the story maps tomorrow … they are intriguing visuals of young writing minds at work.

Peace (choose it),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Making Adventure Happen

(Note: This is a Slice of Life, facilitated by Two Writing Teachers. Slice of Life is a weekly writing activity. You write, too.)

Rhizomatic Discoveries

It’s not that I didn’t have plenty of shoveling to do yesterday. I did. I did. But a snow day yesterday also gave me time to play around with an app that I had put on my iPad the other day, thanks to Paul Hamilton. Adventure Creator is a “make your own adventure” interactive fiction maker and I am still working to figure it out (Paul helped with a short video tutorial).

I’ve worked with Twine (which is free) and played around with some other “make your own adventure” — or interactive fiction — creators, such as Inklewriter. This Adventure Creator app seems intriguing, although it costs almost 4 bucks so I am not sure it is reasonable for an entire classroom.

Still, I dove in, played around and began making an interactive story about Rhizomatic Learning, as I gear up for the upcoming Rhizo15 online gathering that is slated to begin in March (I think). My idea is to create an interactive story, exploring a bit of rhizomatic thinking. Mostly, I hope it helps me better understand the concept. Even a year after Rhizo14, and the continued connections all year, I am still a bit fuzzy on this kind of interlacing and inter-tangent thinking of learning practices, although I know enough about it to know there is something there.

Adventure Creator allows you to build out a story, and I think you can add objects, but I have a lot to learn and am grateful for Paul’s video guidance, and now I need to dig into the app and find tutorials. Constructing a text-style ‘make your own adventure’ story requires planning and thinking but I think it could be cool.

Peace (on the map),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Twining Play and Literacies Together

WRITE a slice of life story on your own blog. SHARE a link to your post in the comments section. GIVE comments to at least three other SOLSC bloggers.

Last year, I introduced a whole new genre of novels: the Make Your Own Ending (or Interactive Fiction) concept. I now have a box full of those books where you come to a page as the reader/character, are faced with a decision, make a choice, and move on through a certain branch of the story. The students LOVE these books and many have not ever encountered them before (which seems odd to me, but there was a time when the publishers stopped publishing, and that seems to now have been reversed).

http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1187144/thumbs/o-CHOOSE-YOUR-OWN-ADVENTURE-MOVIES-facebook.jpgThe key is not just the reading, but the writing of these stories. Yesterday, I brought two of my classes into the freeware called Twine, which allows you to construct and build interactive fiction stories. They are now working on an archeological-themed project called “The Mystery of the Ruins” in which they will be writing and publishing their own stories.

Here is a story map from last year, in Twine (read the story, too):

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8380/8645332164_6ed9894e8a.jpgThere was so much laughter and discovery yesterday as I told them “to play” with the software and not worry about the project. Just go on and make something. Make a story, build branches and see what works and what doesn’t work. Ask questions.

We don’t do this enough — give time to play with technology — but it remains a very crucial element in my classroom, and now, as we gear our way forward later week to actually writing the real story, they will have some understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of Twine. They will have some ownership of the process, and not be quite as hemmed in.

Or so I hope.

Peace (in the classroom),
Kevin

Walk My World Interactive Text

Walkmyworld IF Map
I’ve been trying to stretch the ideas of “walking my world” with different media, as part of the #walkmyworld project, mostly in hopes that others in the venture (connected through Twitter, mostly, and through Ian and Greg’s posts) might also move beyond the sharing of images and into the sharing of ideas with poetry, writing and other forms of media.

Here’s another way. I am diving back into Interactive Fiction, mostly because in the coming weeks or so, I will having my students reading and making interactive texts. We use a free program called Twine, and so yesterday,  I went into Twine to craft this text about walking our worlds. I then host the stories in Google Drive. The image above is the story map that is created: notice all the connections and the nodes of story. The challenge is to make it all connect in a meaningful way.

There are also two design choices in Twine. I chose one in which the story unfolds on a single page, but I am uncertain if the other choice — where each link brings you to an individual page — might be better. It’s something I am still mulling over. I might share out the other version some other day.

Head to the story itself and play around with it.

Notice how I tried to use small poems as part of the overall story, and make the choices along lines of thinking. Or at least, that’s what I was trying to do. Come walk the world.

Peace (in the IF),
Kevin

Student Interactive Fiction: Battle of the Blood

Battle of Blood interactive fiction

I had a student who decided to use our Interactive Fiction writing as a way to meet the goals of a science project around the structure of cells. She crafted this story, working on it for three weeks, and then shared it out last week as part of a Cell Walk. A lot of students did other kinds of projects (mostly food related) but I was proud of her for working so hard, being engaged, and then sharing her story out during a public showing of projects with students and family members.

Read The Battle of the Blood by Hannah

You can also check out the other Interactive Fiction pieces my sixth graders wrote at our website.

Visit the Norris School Interactive Fiction Website

Peace (in the story),
Kevin