Anyone remember those books we read as kids, where you’d read an event or a description, then you’d have to make a choice regarding your options, which would send you at this or that page? Sometimes, you’d end up dying. Others, you’d end up fighting monsters. In the end, the point was, you were the one influencing the story. Fun times, huh?
Why don’t we bring that back?
I present to you, Inklewriter.
Inklewriter is a free online application where you get to write your own interactive stories. You do so by simply writing up the initial setting, just like a regular story, then allowing for a few different options as to what the reader can do.
Here is the setting of the story I took 10 minutes to write to learn a bit about the tool:
The little arrows on the right allow you to write the rest of the story if you follow that path.
The Add Option underneath, obviously opens a new path, just like the one we can see as 3rd option, which I left empty
I chose the “get to the truck” option, which we can see in the picture, up above.
As you can see in the bubble which joins the two paragraphs, they are linked. If I click on the bubble, because I put this paragraph for the wrong answer, maybe I thought I had clicked on another option, I will create a “loose” paragraph, which I will then be able to link with the correct answer. No need to lose anything you’ve written, or rewrite the whole thing!
If you look at the setting of my story, right above the answer choice, you can read, in red, “2 links. 1 loose end.” That means that out of the 3 answers I made available, two have an “answer”, and one has no where to follow up to (remember how I created a blank space to show you how the add option showed up? thats the reason why I don’t have a follow up.)
To fix that, simply click on the content section on the right …
… and this little window appears! You can click directly on the section you want to change, and you’ll get to that section. Now, I want to see the “you were really unhappy…. treated this way” option, so I click on it (it becomes yellow in the content section) and this shows up:
Now, with that option, it is quite easy to see where I’m at compared to every possibility for the story (look at the right) and I can see what path exactly I’m following (look above). Quite easy, huh ?
If you’re like me and you aren’t quite sure that you like the way the options are presented in the content section, since you can’t really see one path from another, simply click on it’s neighbour “Map”
Can’t really get lost now, can you, with all the color, the sections, the bubbles that make it very very clear what is going on.
I’m quite certain this is the part I prefer, since it makes everything crystal clear.
If it is not crystal clear to you what I’ve been talking to you about, you should really look into the “A Tutorial Story“, provided by Inklewriter.
It pretty much speaks for itself. Well, I mean, you’re the one choosing, but you know, like, erg… never mind …
Now, why am I talking to you about this tool, you’re probably asking by now.
Well, some, like a blogger called Jpon, believe that InkleWriter is a tool that is basically garbage. He goes on to say that the whole idea of being a writer is to work hard and not to see the writing process as something that should be done by a program for you and that inklewriter, with their idea of “help[ing] writers tell interactive tales with the minimum of fuss“, disrespect that and the writers using it do the same. Now, if it was simply up to him, I wouldn’t be presenting this tool to you guys.
Others, like Emily Short, who have a bit more experience with interactive writing, tend to like inklewriter. She values the easy access to InkleWriter where, unlike other similar platforms, you don’t need to download a program, or spend a few hours learning how to work with the tool (my little short story is a testimony to that). Plus, she likes the different, user friendly ways to display the story, which make it great to keep track of our project. She does mention that a very big project with this tool would be a very hard thing to do, but that’s not how I think the tool should be used.
I think the tool is great. It is quite easy to use, it is user-friendly, and it doesn’t take a whole lot of time to get used to the interface or the different options.
It has great potential for classroom applications. It is a very good tool to use with your students to develop their logical, computer and writing skills. Plus, it is readily accessible, without the need to download a program or to watch a few tutorials to wrap your mind around the tool. Hence, your students will be ready to work on their own story in less than 30 minutes. Go ahead and have them write a story each, where they must exploit this or that characteristic of a story that you just taught them. Or, since you were working on a specific historical era, you can have them write a story that would take place in such a setting. I think a great way to work on creativity would be to start a story for the classroom yourself, then every day, as a group, or as individuals, they/you will need to add 3 options in the story. Watch how quickly the story grows to become complex and intriguing. Hence, the projects won’t be too big, but they’ll be quite meaningful and interesting. Pretty refreshing for you and your students, too!
Hmmm… What if we add an “interact orally” part to this project? Simply have the students work in pairs or teams to create the story, then they will become storytellers, with the other, or the class, choosing what they want to do next.
Pretty different thinking huh? Hit me up with new ideas when you think of them!