At the Residential in November, Nikki Pugh, gave us all an introduction to Twine,

an open-source tool for telling interactive, nonlinear stories

Straight away, I felt an affinity with it. For a while I’ve been seeking out different ways of taking stories off the page, allowing them to become something more, and Twine seemed to offer a way to do that in a really lovely, intuitive way.

At our first mentoring session, Nikki showed me more of what Twine can be used for, so when I got home, I was ready to dive straight in and see what happened. After playing around with getting links to work, and seeing how I could change the text with simple code, I decided to type a story I’d written into Twine to see what would happen.

The story I chose, Triptych, is a story with three narrative threads, so it would give me a chance to play with structure and experiment with the building blocks of it. Plus, as the story was one I’d already written, I wouldn’t get hung up on perfecting any of it or spend three days/weeks/years deliberating over where it would branch off or how it would end. I would simply be typing it in, and be free to add in breaks and links and have fun with it, see what happened.

The story had interwoven elements, and parts where I could loop back, and parts where I could just mess around, add a page in as a little joke, or have false links leading nowhere. It also gave me a chance to try out new things, using the invaluable and extensive Twine forums to help me figure out how to make things work.

I tinkered and typed and branched off and jumped back, over a number of days, completely enamoured with my new “toy”. Already, it’s started me thinking about how writing directly into Twine might change my writing processes, or even my writing. Words do look and feel different when the page they’re on is constantly shifting, when new words are replacing the ones that were there a minute ago. It’s also been really interesting looking at the shape of the story, seeing where the different strands lead, how they connect to one another. It’s very different from experiencing the story on the page.

So, do I think the story still works? Is the Twine version or the ‘on paper’ version better? With this story, at least, Twine seems to make the separate strands more pronounced, whereas on paper, as you shift linearly from one part to another, it reinforces the link between the three threads as you go along. For me, the story works best in its original form, but that could be simply because that’s the medium it was written for. So my next Twine adventure will be writing something directly into Twine, so I can see how a story feels when it’s written to be separated out into different parts. See how that changes things.