Monthly Archives: November 2015

Week Nine: 30 November: Web Series and Visual Novels

Taught by Kayt Lackie

Web Series and Podcasts


This week, we will look at serialized web video content and the differences between web series and television. We will study different examples of successful series and their life cycles. The class will focus on the writing process but also touch on financing, production and distribution.

If we have time, we will extend our investigation into podcasts.

Work Discussed: Dr. Horrible, The Guild, Red vs Blue, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, LonelyGirl15, Epic Rap Battles of History, Sourcefed, Zoella, and many more. Also, Welcome to Nightvale, Zombies, Run!, The New Yorker Fiction, etc.

Tools Discussed: Final Draft, iMovie, GarageBand, Adobe Premiere Pro, Windows Movie Maker, Audacity, iTunes, Soundcloud, youtube, more.

Exercise 1: Students are reminded to sign-up for a web series. Details are posted on Minerva in the announcements box. This announcement was also emailed to students on 25 November.

Exercise 2: TBA!



Visual Novels & Interactive Fiction


In the second half of the class, students will be introduced to the Visual Novel format and the (free) creation engine Renpy. They will learn a few rudimentary elements of programming language Python and learn how to combine assets on the screen. Students will have the opportunity to explore the engine and the interactive tutorials.

Work Discussed: Slouching Towards Bedlam, 80 Days, 999, Steins;Gate, Depression Quest, HerStory, Coming Out Simulator 2014, etc.

Tools Discussed: Renpy, Twine, Undum, Adobe Photoshop, Garageband/Audacity, Video editing software.

Exercise: Explore the Renpy tutorials.


In the last half hour of the class we will undergo some preparatory exercises in anticipation of the December 7th class. Students are reminded to join the Shared World WIKI and to read the Game Brief.

Week Eight: 23 November: Multimodal Fiction and Writing for Comics

Taught by Kayt Lackie

Multimodal Fiction


This class will introduce multimodal fiction in both digital and analogue forms and will focus on the relationship between the written word and other modes. Beginning with a brief historical overview of multimodal novels, the first half of this class will look at the use of design, illumination, type, maps, icons, lyrics/poetry, illustrations, paratext, and other elements.

Exercise: Create an altered poem or flash fiction from assets provided. (Directions and assets forthcoming)

Work Discussed: Analogue: Le Roman de Fauvel, Lindisfarne Gospels, Lord of the Rings (Tolkien) , Tree of Codes (Jonathan Safran Foer), S (Doug Dorst and J.J. Abrams), The Unfortunates (B.S. Johnson), A Humument (Tom Philips), Une Semaine de Bonte (Max Ernst), The Raw Shark Texts (Steven Hall), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Mark Haddon), House of Leaves (Mark Danielewski), Nat Tate (William Boyd), Heidegger Stairwell (Kayt Burgess) . Digital: Inanimate Alice (Kate Pullinger), The Kills (Richard House), TOC: A New Media Novel (Tomasula), The Silent History (Sudden Oak), McSweeney’s and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

Tools Discussed: MS Word/Open Office, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign.

Required Reading: I’m Comic Sans, Asshole. Link: (Warning: profanity)

Additional Reading: Multimodality, Cognition and Experimental Literature (Alison Gibbons), The Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature (Joe Bray, Alison Gibbons and Brian McHale), How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis (N. Katherine Hayles).

Writing for Comics


The second half of the class will focus on writing for sequential art: comics, graphic novels and web comics. We will discuss the characteristics of graphic storytelling, the genres, and the scriptwriting approaches. Additionally, we will look at how web comics may differ from analogue comics.

Work Discussed: Web Comics – Some People, Hyperbole and a Half, Dinosaur Comics, Romantically Apocalyptic, Spera, xkcd, Hark! A Vagrant, Hobo Lobo of Hamelin, Also: Watchmen, Ghostworld, Maus, Cecil and Jordan in NY, Scott Pilgrim, Footnotes in Gaza, In the Shadow of No Towers, Persepolis, etc.

Exercise: To be announced.

Tools Discussed: MS Word/Open Office, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop, Final Draft, Manga Studio.

Online Comic Software: ,

Required Reading: Some People Link:

Additional Reading: Alan Moore’s Writing for Comics, Scott McCloud series (Making, Understanding and Reinventing Comics), Comics and Sequential Art & Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative (Will Eisner).

Introduction to Shared World Exercise

Week Seven: 16 November: Interactive Storytelling

Taught by Christine Wilks

In this class we’ll explore how to write playable narratives that adapt to reader choice, a genre that includes Interactive Fiction and Adventure Games. We’ll use Twine, a free open-source tool for writing interactive, nonlinear stories. We’ll look at: designing the overall shape and structure of your narrative, creating interactive characters and writing interactive dialogue. I’ll discuss Chris Crawford’s definition of interactivity – ‘A cyclic process between two or more active agents in which each agent alternately listens, thinks, and speaks – a conversation of sorts’ (2012) – and what this means for the writer.

We’ll also revisit the dynamic digital flash fiction work from last week and discuss how these different forms of digital writing (and reading) compare.

  • Revisit the dynamic digital flash fiction exercise from last week.
  • Write an interactive narrative in Twine.
Works/sites discussed:
Tools discussed:
Twine online guides & tutorials:
HTML & CSS reference guides:

If you want to want to customise your interactive stories in Twine by using HTML & CSS, here are some useful online resources and guides:

Other tools you may want to explore:
Recommended Reading:

See the works and sites listed above. In addition, you may also find the following interesting:

Week Six: 9 November: Writing and the rules of play

Taught by Christine Wilks

This class will build on last week’s and look at what distinguishes Electronic Literature (e-lit) from other literary forms. E-literature, whether it’s narrative or poetry, is ‘digital born.’ This means it’s ‘a first-generation digital object created on a computer and (usually) meant to be read on a computer’ (Hayles 2008). Therefore, in one way or another, e-literature takes advantage of the computer’s ability to automatically carry out a sequence of instructions – a set of rules – which might, for example, animate the work, make it interactive, playable or game-like. So this week we will look at the relationship between writing and rules – writing the rules, writing with rules, writing for the rules of play, etc. I’ll also discuss some of my own works of playable e-lit and how they have become increasingly game-like.

  • Using pre-digital forms of playful and rule-based writing as our inspiration (e.g. Dada, Oulipo, Fluxus & radio game shows), we will play a creative writing game. The ‘No Sale game’ is a group exercise that explores how creative writing and combinatorial, permutational, randomness and playful rules can work together. We’ll use analogue media – pen, paper, index cards, etc.
  • Dynamic digital flash fiction – create your own computer-generated flash fiction (i.e. short short story, not Adobe Flash). I’ll provide the code, you supply the words. Using Visual Studio Code, you’ll write into a file that includes the code to dynamically generate and display your mutating flash fiction. You’ll be able to view it in a web browser and tweak it as much as you want.
Works/sites discussed:
 Recommended reading:

See the works and sites listed above. In addition, you may also find the following articles, books, sites and works interesting:

Experimental writing, from analogue to digital:

Tools discussed:

Analogue materials required/used: index cards, post-it notes, marker pens, story-cubes, glue sticks, paper, scissors.