Twine: My Imagination’s Best Nightmare

Weird title, right? Don’t worry, it’ll make sense as you continue to read. I want to start by saying I have loved my experience with Twine. It’s simple, outrageously fun, and completely relentless. (I would love to read more about how people felt about Twine and what their experience was like!). But more about how Twine is my imagination’s best nightmare.

For anyone who has written in Twine, you know that when you create a text tile ending with two or more options to choose, Twine creates both blank tiles for you. How convenient! At least, that’s what I thought. I quickly realized that as I continued my train of thought, I was inadvertently creating tile after blank tile that I would have to eventually fill with story. I remember stopping for a second to look back at all the blank tiles I had to fill and I felt a little overwhelmed. I thought to myself, “How am I supposed to fill another 20 (I don’t know if it was exactly 20…it was a lot) tiles with story? I already reached the end!” 

I love to write. I’ve written for a number of competitions and have taken several writing courses. Prose and creative writing are my expertise with the intent to progress to novel writing. Sitting there looking at my Twine story felt like I was staring at a blank 300 page book. I knew how much I had to write but I hadn’t thought of story to fill the pages. Then another thought dawned on me: each one of those tiles left blank could turn into another 2 blank tiles…or more! By then, I wanted to connect everything together and give up. Or just make a ton of really lame endings that would be completely unsatisfying to the player. But then I had another thought.

Twine was a way for me to push my imagination. I knew how I wanted the story to progress and end, but Twine said that wasn’t good enough; it wanted more. Each one of those empty tiles was an opportunity for me to explore something new in my story, to offer the player a new viewpoint, a new conflict, or a new way to die (in the story, of course!). Of course, some branches tied in nicely with others I had already written, but that’s beside the point. Twine provided the creative “push” I needed to complete each branch of my story. It made me want to learn for myself how this character might act if he/she chose differently at this specific time in the story. The best part was that I got to control all of that. By the end of my story, I was completely satisfied with the variation in choices, conflicts, and endings I had provided the player with. Granted, it took 10 times longer than I had thought, but it was well worth it.

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