Choosing your first adventure: how to get started in interactive writing

Welcome, adventurer.

You are in a small community. Those around you brim with enthusiasm. Some are weathered, some fresh. They want to help you tell your stories. You look at your equipment, examine your mind’s eye and look back at them earnestly.

“Am I ready?”

Some nod, others still reach out their hands. They are leading you forward.

One speaks calmly. “Ahead are many choices, and all will shape you.”

"Shall we begin?

Getting started in a world of interactivity can certainly feel daunting. It’s easy to look at all the examples in this community and in the wider media ecosystem and feel trepidation.

In reality, though, it’s never been easier to explore your ability to engage an audience with interactive storytelling.

This thread is about sharing how to take your first steps - there are others on tools and techniques and ways to ensure you are making the most of established formats. Other topics on great examples. In this one we will just look to make your first interactive project. Inspired by Robin Moore, of R&D, this is going to be Hide and Seek.

  1. Get some post-its or a ream of paper.
  2. Choose a location - your home, your office, a village or town or other place you know very well.
  3. Write out major locations or rooms. It’s probably wise to keep this to 3 places.
  4. For each location, write out 3 places within that location where someone could hide.
  5. Pick a tool like Twine, or StoryKit, that allows you to create a graph of linked spaces. (Or you could keep this as a physical game, if you don’t want to jump into technology just yet.
  6. Create a starter node
  7. Create your location nodes. Link them as choices from the starter node.
  8. Now add hiding place nodes and link them all as choices from the locations.
  9. Decide where your character will be hiding. Link this node to a final “success” node.
  10. You should have a graph that looks like a pine tree that’s fallen over.
  11. For all the other nodes, link to a “not hiding here” node, which links back to the start.
  12. Test it!
  13. Now, polish - tidy up the text and make it personally satisfying.
  14. Have someone try it.

Congratulations! You’ve made your first interactive story. Making the first thing is the most important - it doesn’t matter if it’s simple. You should be pleased and proud to have finished something. Before you read this you were hoping to write an interactive story. And now you have!

Now, I’m sure you’ve thought of a hundred things that you could get stuck into - maybe the descriptions? Maybe this is a murder mystery? Do your characters need more exploration and exposition? Could the linking be more interesting? What does the tool allow, can you save state, add conditions or other interesting wrinkles? Are there thematic elements you could use to make it more dynamic? Are you chasing someone through the space? Can you lock doors and corner them? Are you being chased? Are you collecting things? Is this a physical space, or are they memories, dreams or planets you visit on a tour of the galaxy? Let your imagination go wild.

Even if you’ve just read this as a thought experiment (and thank you for staying with me!), maybe you’ve got an idea and want to try it?

Or perhaps you’re an expert or superuser and want to share other ways to get started?

Do you have a link to something you’ve made?

Please share so that other adventurers can have more meaningful choices to begin their journey into interactive experience.

:heart: Si


I really like this - making your first thing something you can finish and have someone playing in a couple of hours is super sensible.

Also deciding what ONE thing you’re going to make good about it - are you going to draw nice visuals, or write funny text, or make it genuinely exploratory - rather than trying to make everything good first off.

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