Composing Interactive Fiction 4: Resources, Ideas, Possibilities

(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. On Monday,  I shared out the first story that I wrote, and well as provided some advice on how to play it. Yesterday, I went in another direction, using a free software program called Twine. Today, I will share out resources that I have discovered and maybe get you to tinker with some other Interactive Fiction possibilities yourselves. – Kevin)

I’ve stumbled on a fair number of resources around Interactive Fiction that might be helpful if you, like me, are wondering what it is all about and whether it has a place in the classroom as a writing experience. I apologize if this post seems more like a stream of consciousness than a coherent presentation of ideas. (Maybe I should have created it as interactive exposition?)

First, I have to share out again Jason Sellers post at NWP’s Digital Is site. Jason’s post got me started down this path. Here is a video of his presentation about the project at a teaching conference recently:

This video is a great piece about the art of video game storytelling. I like how it broadens the view of what writing can be.

Playfic is a neat site for creating, sharing and playing Interactive Fiction games. While there is a learning curve, one can also creatively “steal” the code from other stories and then revamp them. Here is a handy cheat sheet of commands for playing the games/stories at Playfic.

IF Shortcuts

A more advanced tutorial on using Inform 7, the software that Playfic runs off, is here, too, although this is more heady stuff.

Twine is a free software program for creating hypertext stories, which are different from the typical Interactive Fiction, but in the same vein. (Which reminded me of this article that I read a while back about non-sequential narratives. It’s pretty fascinating.) Chad shared out a few resources that were helpful to me, including this quick tutorial on the basics of Twine.

By the way, Eastgate is an online journal for hypertext projects and you can easily get lost in the mix there. There’s some nifty poetry, media projects and stories that pushes the boundaries of our conceptions of writing in a digital space. I am sure there are other hypertext journals out there, too. If you know of more, leave me a comment, won’t you?

Jason had his students head to the 2012 Interactive Fiction Competition (who knew?) to play and vote on some stories. It looks like a nice range of stories that can be played online as well as offline. They might work well as mentor texts.

Hypertextopia is another site that allows you to build/construct hypertext stories. It’s been some time since I have explored it, but when I did use it for a story collection, I liked it.

Inklewriter is an online space for making linked make-your-own-ending stories that Ryan shared with me on a comment this week. I have not yet tried it (although I have had it bookmarked for a time now) but Inklewriter looks pretty intuitive to use, along the lines of Twine but in an online space (for easier sharing, right?).

I have used wikis with my students for those kinds of branching story projects (which Twine might replace this year). I even created this resource for other teachers thinking about how to help students make their own make-your-own-ending stories with online tools. As I think about the role that Interactive Fiction might play in teaching writing, that lesson plan will be my starting point. I even presented about it once at a regional reading conference. (Note to self: dig up those files.)

Finally, all this reminded me of a video series that I made to experiment with annotations in Youtube, using the ‘choose the path’ concept for choices made by the viewer. I used this tutorial to understand a bit about how to use the spotlight/annotation feature in YouTube. I admit: I have not used this with my students, but I would love to do it.

Peace (in the paths),




  1. Thanks for the posts. I asked my engineering students to use Twine to create interactive stories last semester, and the results were surprisingly good. The young men were particularly motivated. I suggested using Twine, but one student used Adventure Quest. He reported that Adventure Quest was great for gaming, but required more tech knowhow. His story was good, but took a lot longer to write. We concluded that Twine was the best tool for our classroom situation, which you have confirmed. Good to have the Playfic information too, for more serious gamers. Thanks.

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