Get Tangled Up in Twine!
How to make your own interactive stories
We don’t really want you to get tangled up in Twine, but we do want to tell you about a free storytelling
tool that we think you’ll enjoy. Twine helps you to create interactive stories that lets your reader choose how the story goes!
Join us for a one-off FREE workshop on how to make your own story this Christmas! Write your own Christmas Carol, and have it featured in an Arcade Cabinet in Sheffield Libraries!
Step 1: Getting Started
Twine is free to use and you don’t need any coding knowledge to get started. You can use it in your browser with an internet connection, or download it to use offline – make sure you download the correct version for your computer!
One of the great things about Twine is that there is an active community of people who create stuff using it! They share their ideas and lots of practical advice in the Twine Wiki.
There are lots of tutorials on there which will help once you get started to do some fancy things later on using variables, conditional logic, or adding images and sound when you’re ready.
For now we’re going to focus on the basics!
Step 2: Starting a New Story
Once you’ve downloaded Twine or opened it in your browser, it should look something like this…
To make a new story, click the button labelled +Story
You’ll get a dialog box telling you to name your story – what do you want to call it? Remember, you can change it later on! The great thing about Twine is that you go back and edit so focus on ideas first and you can sort out spelling and punctuation later.
When you’re ready, select +Add to start creating your story.
Step 3: Adding to your Story
So you have your title but it may feel a bit like staring at a blank page and waiting for inspiration to arrive… If you are stuck, you could start by playing around with a story you know well. It could be a children’s book, a fairy story or an idea from a film, comic or videogame. Or you can make up an entirely new story! The possibilities are endless!
You should see a box in the middle of the screen, this is the start of your story. You can tell that it is the start because there is a little green rocket ship in the corner. To start double click on this box and start writing. Think about how you’ll introduce your story, you could describe the setting or a character for example.
Now, this isn’t just a normal story, you need to to give your reader or player some choices. This should be when the fun starts! Say you want to ask your reader to choose between turning left or right, if you type those options in the same way as the rest of the story nothing will happen! So that the reader can select them, we need to add some simple coding!
For example, if you put any text in [[double square brackets]] like so, you create a link. This link creates a new thread which takes your reader on a different pathway, depending on what they choose.
Now, when you go back to your story you should see the two choices appear in new boxes. You can see which box leads where by looking at where the arrows lead!
You can get a better idea of what this looks like (and check everything is working) by pressing Play or Test.
So far our story looks like this and our choices are in blue. You should be able to click on one of the options and it will take you to a new screen. Now we need to decide where these choices lead…
For each of the options you now have a new ‘passage’ shown as a box which is another thread of your story. The title of the passage will be the same as the text you popped inside the brackets – that is important as it tells twine where to make connections in your story. If you change the title, you should notice the text in the brackets change too! There are ways to change this and keep them connected – we’ll get to that later.
Now, double-click the passage that you want to edit and it will open. Here you can add the next part of the story, it should lead on from the choice your reader made!
TOP TIP: When you open the next passage you might see some text like this! These are helpful hints from Twine about editing the text… make text “bold” using speech marks or //italics// like so…
The most important thing at first is to create a Twine story where all the passages take you somewhere and not just to a dead end. Usually the reader will only see one passage at a time, so don’t let them get stuck!
Step 4: Connecting to Previous Passages
You can keep creating new passages, but you can also connect back to passages that you’ve already made. For example, one choice might lead to a dead end and your reader will need to turn back! To do so, you’ll need to include the title of the passage you want to connect to which in this case is [[right]].
When linking your story to previous passages be sure to type it the same way, with the correct capital letters and punctuation. Otherwise it won’t take you where you need to go! Once you have finished this you’ll notice a helpful arrow connecting the passages.
This works well but sometimes using the passage title in the story can sound strange, but there is a way around this. Instead of just including the [[passage title]] in double brackets, we’re going to add a bar within this. Anything written before the bar will appear in your story and anything after won’t! Like so, [[new text goes here | passage title goes here]].
Importantly we can still link back to previous passages, but we also have more control over the story and what we can write! When adding this to your story, make sure there isn’t a gap between the passage title and the bar, or it wont work.
Step 5: Saving your Stories
When you’ve finished your story it’s time to share it! Twine saves your game for you as you go along, but if you want to share your game with other people, you need to publish it to a file. There are several ways to do this, but the easiest way is to select the story title on the the bottom left and select Publish to File.
This will download a HTML file to your computer which you can then use to share your creations. HTML stands for “Hypertext Markup Language”. It is the computer language used to make webpages!
Step 6: Share your Stories
You can send this file to your friends, or upload it to the Internet using any service that allows you to upload HTML files (also known as “static content hosting”). If you don’t have somewhere on the web to upload your file, try:
- Neocities: free general web hosting with a friendly interface
- itch.io: a site for distributing games. A Lot of Twine authors use this!
Remember that not all Twine stories have been created for younger audiences and always get permission from grown ups to upload your creations online. Once you upload your stories to these types of sites, other people can see and read them too.