My E-Lit Workshop at Festival of Writing

What are playable stories and how to start writing them

Computers and the internet have given birth to a new literary genre – Electronic Literature, or E-Lit for short. The genre covers a wide range of forms, from digital poetry to literary games and playable stories. The one thing all E-Lit works have in common is that they’re created on a computer and meant to be read using a computer or mobile device. Many are freely accessible to read or play on the internet. In this workshop, we’ll look at some examples of e-lit, playable stories that I’ve created, and how you might go about starting to write your own.

That was the title and description of the workshop talk I gave at the Festival of Writing 2013 in York on Sunday 15 September. I showed some of my own e-lit works and discussed how I approached writing them (e.g. about writing Fitting the Pattern or a peek into the process of creating Underbelly). Then I shared some suggestions of useful tools for writers who want to start creating their own born digital works.

Want to start writing your own digital stories or poems?

Here are some suggestions of web apps and writing tools you might want to try:

  • slid.es – a web-based editor for creating presentations. Here’s a wonderfully witty example from renowned e-lit author, Alan Bigelow, My Life in Three Parts, which he created using the source JavaScript framework that slide.es is built on, reveal.js.
  • Prezi – a powerful zooming presentation tool that you can use online, on your desktop or on your iPad/iPhone. Böhmische Dörfer is a very moving example of what can be achieved, created (in English) by Alexandra Saemer:

“Böhmische Dörfer” is a piece, created in Prezi, about the impossibility of reconstructing the failing memory of a traumatic historical event : the “March of Death” of the Sudeten Germans from Brno in winter 1945.

  • Storynexus – a platform for exploring interactive story worlds and writing and creating your own.
  • Scratch – a platform for programming your own interactive stories, games and animations.
  • Webmaker – “a global community that creates the web by making, teaching and remixing” – an open source project from Mozilla.
  • Varytale – a publishing and writing platform for interactive books.

Useful tools for writers and digital writers alike:

  • Scrivener – a “complete writing studio”, it has just about everything you need for researching, writing, structuring and revising your projects.
  • Scapple – a freeform text editor, similar to a mind-mapping tool.
  • Evernote – a powerful notetaking, web clipping, scrap-booking that helps you “remember everything”.

soma suture

Screenshot of soma suture

Screenshot of soma suture – click to play

my last remix of 2012

an animated e-poem created in Flash
click to play -> soma suture

(opens in new window/tab)

Truck :: n. a self-propelled vehicle for carrying goods is a blog exhibiting a cornucopia of digital art, e-lit, net art, animations, writing and poetry by a wide range of artists and writers. A few weeks ago Erik Rzepka, Truck’s curator for the month of December, invited me to contribute something. So I created soma suture, which I remixed from Turning Away Toward + rawVamp + some texts from various posts at Truck in December. As a remix, soma suture also appears at R3/\/\1X\/\/0RX (a little differently).

Today is New Year’s Eve so soma suture is obviously my last remix of 2012 but it may also be the last remix I create in Flash. I love working in Flash but I’d like to create e-lit for all kinds of screens and devices, including mobile. So… Do I feel a New Year’s Resolution coming on?… WTF!… Yes… I resolve to make future remixes in JavaScript and HTML5 in 2013!

Happy New Year!

Scenic trail of remixes

A crissxross trail < R3/\/\1X\/\/0RX

one remix player’s scenic route through remixworx

A new work! It’s a kind of meta-remix of my personal creative journey through remixworx, our collaborative online remixing project. Conceived as a poetic interactive infographic with lots of multimedia animated content, this ‘scenic route‘ presents a sample trail of 33 out of the 100 remixes I’ve created since joining the remixworx group blog in January 2007. The trail includes a text commentary about my experience of remixing and co-creating over the past six years.

This particular crissxross remix trail formed the core of my presentation for the ELMCIP conference on Remediating the Social in Edinburgh, on 2 November 2012. Remixworx founder, Randy Adams, also presented at the conference, remotely from Canada. He gave an overview of the project and showed a couple of remixes (bookish version 1.3 and Notes Noir) before giving a live online VJ performance of the Visual Poetry Generator 0.1, accompanied by a spoken word and music soundtrack. Below is a sample screenshot from VPG 0.1.

Sketch 1

Randy Adams’ screenshot of random animation created by a Flash engine called Visual Poetry Generator (VPG 0.1), used for VJ sets

See more images in the remixworx flickr pool. You can also see a video of our conference presentations on the ELMCIP bambuser channel.

Chris Joseph, another prolific remixer who has been in it from the start, couldn’t make the conference but he contributed to our section in the Remediating the Social catalogue (free download).

Remixworx at Remediating the Social

Remediating the Social, ELMCIP conference, Nov 2012An artists’ presentation of remixworx as a case study for Remediating the Social

ELMCIP Conference, Edinburgh, 1-3 November 2012

The final conference of the three year ELMCIP (Electronic Literature as a Model of Creativity and Innovation in Practice) research project was a splendid event. It combined academic papers and artists’ presentations with an exhibition and performance programme, and the launch of the ELMCIP Anthology of European Literature, which includes my work, Underbelly.

The whole conference is thoroughly documented in the ELMCIP Electronic Literature Knowledge Base and on ELMCIP’s bambuser broadcast video channel. Here’s some documentation of the contribution that my co-remixer, Randy Adams, and I made to the conference.

R3/\/\1X\/\/0RX - a micro-community of creative digital discourse

Video of our presentation:

Remediating in print

There’s also a beautifully produced Remediating the Social catalogue in print which is also available as an ebook to download (free).

Remediated remixes for the page – two R3/\/\1X\/\/0RX pages in the Remediating the Social catalogue

SonoBuoy

This movie requires Flash Player 8

(to turn sound on/off, click anywhere in the movie)

SonoBuoy: a dance of disclosure is the third in a series of dynamic animated remixes I created for R3/\/\1X\/\/0RX in response to Alan Sondheim‘s avatar work. This one is remixed from Letting Slip and Turning Away Toward and Alan’s thinworld.mp4 (video) and blackswan.mp3 (music).