Category Archives: CS5042-20 2015

Creative Writing & Digital Media, module CS5042-20
Course Leader: Prof Kate Pullinger
Course Tutors: Kayt Lackie, Chris Meade, Christine Wilks
Class Time: Monday 3:00-6:00 pm, Semester One. Room: Commons G32

This module explores the ways in which new digital platforms, software, and technologies enable new forms of storytelling and offer new opportunities for writers; the focus is firmly on ideas and experimentation. You will explore a range of digital tools as well as storytelling projects and you will consider what it means to create text that is meant to be read on a screen.

Week Ten: December 7: Immersive Worlds and Video Game Writing

Taught by Kayt Lackie


The first half of the class will look at writing for videogames. We’ll look at game design basics, characteristics of different genres and storytelling macrostructures.

Shared World Exercise and Live Action Role-play

To explore collaborative storytelling, shared world development and game mechanics, the class will be roleplaying a LARP scenario. The game design team will facilitate the game and class members will role-play the characters they have developed over the last few weeks.

Preparatory Exercise 1: Students are reminded to develop their character, choose their community and post to the wiki. Students are encouraged to read other contributions to the wiki.

Preparatory Exercise 2: Students on the game design team will participate in the development of a LARP for their peers via the shared google doc.

After the exercise, the class will discuss the experience.


The second half of this class will offer students time to work on their final projects. They will be expected to have their materials with them.  Both Professor Pullinger and the tutor will be available to assist students.

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.

Week Five: 2 November: Film Poetry & Digital Poetry

New ways to make poems

Taught by Christine Wilks

Guest lecture by Lucy English: Film Poetry


This class will begin with a guest lecture by Lucy English on film poetry, including her current PhD project, Book of Hours, which is an attempt to create a contemporary digital re-imagining of a medieval book of hours.

Then I’ll discuss digital poetry (aka e-poetry) and how it differs from film poetry. Both forms use multi-media (e.g. text, image, sound) but digital poetry also takes advantage of the programmable nature of the computer to make poems that are, for example, interactive, generative or game-like. We’ll look at a wide range of digital poetry and also some analogue precursors to digital poetry, e.g. concrete poetry, Oulipo, cut-up and other aleatory techniques (next week we’ll explore these techniques via practical exercises too). We’ll also consider remixing as a literary technique and, in particular, I’ll discuss R3M1XW0RX, a collaborative digital poetry and art remixing website that I’ve been involved with for a number of years.

  • Create your own dynamic, animated digital poem. I’ll provide the code, you supply the words. Using a plain text editor, you’ll write into a document that includes code to display and animate your poem. In effect, you’ll be remixing with code. You’ll be able to view your poem immediately 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 & poetry, from analogue to digital:

Tools discussed:


Week Four: 26th October: Naomi Alderman

Taught by: Chris Meade.



This week guest lecturer Naomi Alderman,  author of award winning literary fiction and the Doctor Who tie-in novel Borrowed Time, talks about her highly successful – and lucrative – exercise app  Zombies! Run as well as her other digital works. We look at fan fiction, Alternate Reality Games and all kinds of digital games and fan fiction.


We’ll work in groups to plan a story deliberately designed to be listened to while doing an annoying task. Naomi says: “Exercising is one of course (would love to hear biking, weightlifting etc stories), but also tidying your house, doing your taxes, doing the washing up, doing the ironing, cooking supper, commuting on a crowded bus or tube, etc etc. Times when you like to be distracted: what story would make those things feel epic, or at least meaningful?” At the end of the session each group will present their story to the class. 

We will build on last week’s collaborative writing exercise to make our own Pastoral Symphony, working together on Google Drive, writing for 5 minutes on the subject of each of the 5 movements of Beethoven’s work, taking note of the tempo for each section.

Works/Sites discussed:

Zombies! Run (App)

Disobedience, The Lessons, The Liars’ Gospel – Novels by Naomi Alderman, published by Penguin Books

Borrowed Time, Dr Who novel, BBC Books

Week Three: 19th October: Nearlywriting


This class will begin with me talking about my ‘journey’ into new media writing; from Community Arts and the library as ‘imagination services’, literature development at the Poetry Society and Booktrust, to The Institute for the Future of the Book & if:book UK, participating in These Associations by Tino Sehgal, forming the IFSO Writers, the Nearlyology Project and Academy Inegales, a group of musicians and artists collaborating on live performance.

I’ll explain why I came to think of myself as a Nearlywriter and why Nearlywriting works for me, a practice growing out of my experience and interest in writing, comics, music, community arts and literature development. I’ll talk about my digital novella In Search of Lost Tim and the transmedia novel in progress at

We will discuss collaborative writing and build up to making a work of Nearlyology together, deciding first how to shape and ‘conduct’ it.


Working on Google docs on a piece made together about the things we’ve nearly done. Can include video and photos recorded on mobiles etc. and gathering nearlies from other students.

We’ll write for 45 mins then read and edit together.  

Works / Sites Discussed:

Projects documented on  including Songs of Imagination & Digitisation, Found; www.ifsopress.comincluding David Almond’s Story Park; HOTBOOK,

My own digital writing:  In Search of Lost Tim (; What Didn’t Quite (

Collaborative writing including

Assigned reading:

Week Two: 12 October: THE AMPLIFIED AUTHOR – The Book Turned Inside Out

Taught by: Chris Meade


This class will begin with an exploration of a range of digital possibilities for literature – multimedia, collaborative writing and reading, blogging, apps, transmedia projects involving live events…

We’ll look at how they’re changing the notion of what constitutes a literary work; the book not an object but an experience that happens to us – published ‘in people’s hearts’, how the role of publishers has changed.

We’ll discuss the options for ‘publishing’ work in different ways on different platforms and the need for amplified authors to find collaborators and support structures to help them compose work including multimedia elements and decide when they’re ‘cooked’ enough to put out into the world in whatever form seems most appropriate.

We will look at different ways to plan, describe and visualise digital and transmedia literary projects.

Works/sites discussed:

Electronic Literature – A course

Collaborative Reading
eg.; Amazon,,

Collaborative Writing
Fan fiction
A Million Penguins;  Leap! A Collaborative Novel
Jo Bell’s 53 poetry group
Miranda July, Learning To Love You More

Amplified Publishing
Siri & Me (published on Facebook)
Twitter Poems (made on National Poetry Day)

New Media Writing Prize and Bologna Ragazzi Digital Prize Apps including
PRY, Morris Lessmore,
The Wasteland by TS Eliot (& Touchpress)…

Tools Discussed
Blogger Tumblr WordPress etc
Twitter – poems by Inua Elams etc
Google Docs


1) Work in small groups on ideas for transmedia writing projects then present them to the class.

2) Describe yourself as a musician would applying to join a band, what are your skills enthusiasms and influences, how would you describe your writing style as an instrument you could play with others?

3) We’ll practice together by each writing a short piece of memoir based on an embedded YouTube clip from a favourite childhood TV programme.

Week One: 5 October: CREATIVE WRITING AND DIGITAL MEDIA – an introduction to the module and the field

Taught by: Professor Kate Pullinger
This class will begin with an introduction to the module as a whole, including information on assessments, deadlines, feedback, and the nuts and bolts of the module. I’ll use to introduce the team and I will talk about the module overall, encouraging blue-sky thinking, and thinking about how the skills developed and explored can help with future employability. I’ll talk about how students can link what you are doing in this module to your work in other modules, in terms of developing ideas/characters/themes that interest you. Other things covered will include copyright, Creative Commons licenses, a detailed look at the assessments and the assessment criteria, and a number of interesting examples of work that explores what creative writing and technology can do when combined in new ways.

1. The Digital Audit – in your googledoc, list and describe the way you use digital technology
2. Blue-sky project brainstorming

Works/sites discussed:
Bath Spa Writing Centre –
class website:
online magazine:
Creative Commons: (We will follow Creative Commons best practice for attribution in the class)
Inanimate Alice Pullinger, Joseph, Campbell
Beam prototype (not available anywhere but Kate’s own phone)
Margaret Atwood: A State of Wonder – Future of Storytelling: animated video talk:
Letter to an Unknown Soldier:
Karen by Blast Theory – mobile app – free
Welcome to Pine Point – – free

Tools discussed: n/a this week

Assigned Reading:
Esmeralda Kosmopoulos, SIRI AND ME:!siri-and-me/ch26
Samantha Gorman and Danny Cannizzaro, PRY:

Recommended Reading:
The above websites listed in ‘Works discussed’ is your recommended reading. As well as that you could look at the following books and websites:
The Future of Storytelling Vimeo: this is a conference in NY; they have posted a series of very interesting videos about the future of storytelling on their Vimeo page:
Spreadable Media by Ford, Green, Jenkins (in the library)