Interactive Fiction

Last Friday night (three days ago), I stumbled across Twine, the open-source tool for creating interactive stories. How did I land myself there? I was reading Unstuck’s Twitter. Came across this tweet:

Clicked over to that article, and then on to the official website for Choosatron. I skimmed the website and clicked on Writing Guide, which provides you with an overview of how to create your own stories—using Twine.

Twine’s main page showcases a revolving sample of interactive stories that are listed with the Interactive Fiction Database. AMAAAAAZINNG!

Suddenly I’m falling down a rabbit hole of interactive fiction. I bookmark a bunch to read in the morning. I especially liked these: “Howling Dogs”, “Town”, “a kiss” (be sure to check out The Map link in the side menu), “Alice Falling”, and “Corvidia”.

Then on Saturday morning, the rain wakes me up early. I start exploring Twine some more, and this time, one of the stories listed on the front page is “Inheritance” by Andrea Corbin. Here’s an excerpt from the starting passage:

The ring Yulia’s grandmother gave her wasn’t very pretty — an overworked silver band, rough black stone surrounded by an ill-thought combination of colored gems — but she wears it while Grandma Eva is in town.

Little presents from Grandma Eva make Yulia happy; a reminder that although Eva is impossible to please, Yulia is her favorite. Eva is Yulia’s favorite too. Eva always told Yulia the strangest old fairy stories when she was little.

Oooomph. I love this story. I only wish there was more of it! I won’t describe it because that would just be spoiling the experience. All I can say is: Go read/play it now.

Andrea Corbin’s other interactive story, “Digital Witnesses”, is even more involved and expansive. The flow in this piece is particularly remarkable because there’s a consistent path forward, but all the other links serve to reach backward and around, fleshing out the context and characters. So you could read straight ahead without deviation and still enjoy the narrative arc, but it’s those asides that really make this story memorable for me. Fun fact: “Digital Witnesses” was written in about 18 hours with only 23 passages.

Since Friday, my mind’s been wrapped up in interactive stories/hypertext fiction. I’ve browsing the IFDB, starting with going through user created recommendation lists, and I’m learning just how many different approaches there are to working with this form. My mind is boggling. It’s a whole new world for me.

From one list, I found “Bee” by Emily Short. Read it! And then check out the author’s blog because it is an astounding resource for interactive fiction. TREASURE. TROVE.

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