For a while now, I’ve been wrestling with interactive narratives and systems designed for composing them, but when I saw Ian Millington’s Undum for the first time, I fell in love. Within a few days of a friend showing it to me, I began working on two interactive narratives that helped me to see just how fun and flexible this system is.
My first story using Undum was “Living Will,” which tells the tale of coltan magnate ER Millhouse through his interactive Last Will and Testament. As the reader clicks through the document, she can make various choices, including selecting which heir she to embody and then stealing the inheritance from her fellow heirs. All the while, legal and medical fees mount because Millhouse is, in the words of Monty Python, not dead yet. The reader can encounter more of the story with each click and read-through.
Using a slightly modified version of the basic Undum template, I was able to craft this story so that the reader can navigate this document in a few minutes and then read through again. Customizing the built-in scoring system, I was able to make the Will keep a constant tally. It has been suggested that the story continues into the code, but I have no comment on this matter.
I’m also using a more recent version of the system for a set of children’s stories I’m writing with my kids, entitled “Mrs. Wobbles & the Tangerine House.” For this story, we’ve again modified the basic layout only slightly, but rather than offering the document as a replayable tale, we try to encourage children to catch all the text, like Pokemon of prose. Also, we use the scoring-system to reward behavior. Reading poems, for example, will earn poetry power-ups, which can open up new paths for the story.
In both stories, I’ve inserted some Google Analytics events, so I can study what choices readers make. I’ve published some of my initial findings.
On April 5, PR will be co-sponsoring the day-long conference, CONVERSATIONS AND CONNECTIONS: PRACTICAL ADVICE ON WRITING. Here’s a sampling of the writers who will be participating,with more to be added: Keynote, Marisa de los Santos, Tara Laskowski, D Foy, Laura Ellen Scott, Ben Tanzer, Sheila Squillante, Steve Weddle, John Wang, Andrea Cole, Nik Korpon, Art Taylor, (birthday girl) Erin Fitzgerald, Susan Muaddi Darraj, Cathy Alter, Geoffrey Becker, Brian Fanelli, Dawn Leas, Julie Wakeman-Linn, Rosalia Scalia, and more more more. And for $70, you!
After PR wrapped itself in a pile of quilts and flopped on a nearby fainting couch, swearing that it would never, ever feel warm again, a letter arrived over the e-transom and chased the cold away.
Contributor Tina Tocco writes:
“As you’re aware, my flash fiction pieces “Promised Land” and “21 Days” appear in your Fall 2013 issue (fantastic cover, by the way). I thought you’d like to know that I’ve recently had two other flash fiction stories published — “Reinvention” in Fiction Fix and “Sink” in The Citron Review.“
It’s kind of lonely around here
EVERYone’s gone to Seattle–
I’m hanging around, playing with rhymes
And can only come up with “cattle.”
But March promises to be an interesting month on the blog, with reports from the AWP, posts about writing and the writing life, and the debut of a monthly feature, Electonic Lit.
If you’re going to be at the AWP in Seattle this week, why not stop by and say hello?
We’re at booth #621, which we’re sharing with Gival Press. Julie Wakeman-Linn, our editor-in-chief and Karolina Gajdeczka, one of fantastic associate editors, will be womanning the table, and Robert Giron, our Outreach Editor and publisher of the Gival Press, will be manning it.
And don’t forget that John Wang, another of our terrific associate editors, will be at table #M29 with Juked.
A graduate of California State University, Long Beach, she says “I must add, though, that I credit my photography skills to John J. J. J. Niven, a Scotsman and my mentor, who always said, ‘Ah! to heck, you can do better’ while quoting Robert Burns to me.”
Along with the beautiful photographs below, she has sent us this short piece which discusses the cover photograph, “Taking the First Step.”
One September afternoon in 2010 not far from Yellowstone National Park, I came upon this flight of stairs—a found object. Ready to be captured and shared, its rickety slight curve a telling image: upward to the unknown.
“The camera is a sketch book” according to Henri Cartier Bresson. As a poet, I was familiar with keeping a book of images. However, ten years ago I began taking/keepingvisual images. Photography & poetry are now my companions. In fact my first photo was published because I wrote a note on the back of a picture that I’d taken. The editor rejected the poem but asked, “Do you have any more photos?”
Now with over 100 images published in literary journals, I agree with Ansel Adams who said that you don’t take a picture, you make it. Enjoy!
Samples of Cover Artwork:
Tiferet (January 2014 cover)
Broad River Review (2013 cover)
Switchback (Issue 16, Vol 8 cover)
THE HEALING MUSE GALLERY (sample florals)
Associate Editor Jarvis Slacks interviews author Robert Olen Butler at the annual F. Scott Fitzgerald Conference held at Montgomery College in the fall.