Class Report

Interactive Creative Writing

Teacher: Daniel Hollander
Facilitator: Alex Pio

What was the weirdest thing you learned?
Alex: That hot pockets turn microwaves into time machines.

What did you learn that you can put into practice immediately?
Alex: That hot pockets turn microwaves into time machines!! And how to create choose your own adventure stories in Microsoft Word through hyperlinks.

If this class were a TV show, what channel would it be on and why?
Alex: It would be the remote, giving users the power to decide their fate!

How did you get interested in this subject?
Daniel: As a child, I read a book where I got to die (multiple times), be the hero, save the girl, kill the girl (an accident!), and cause all kinds of mischief and mayhem. A choose your own adventure book, of course! I have read many more since, and I get to create my own adventures each and every day. With good consequences … and bad. Mostly good.

What do people tend to wrongly assume about this subject before learning about it?
Daniel: That it’s just for kids. Interactive writing, reading, and other forms of story-telling allow the spectator to become a participant, which can be both highly engaging and thought-provoking. Instead of simply raising questions or prompting discussion such as in a spectator-based story (ie nearly every movie, show, or book), the participatory story allows exploration of those questions within the medium itself. It’s empowering for the participant and a great creative challenge for the creator to try to facilitate that exploration.

If an alien visited this class and could understand English, what would they surmise about humanity? 
Daniel: That we are silly, random, and unpredictable. Mostly rational but at times hopelessly emotional. Complex, thoughtful, and incessantly curious. Highly imaginative. Simultaneously reflective and forward-looking. And that holding hands in a circle and “passing the squeeze” is a strange but effective form of reducing tension among strangers.

What can people read/watch for more information on this topic?
Daniel: I can’t recommend “Patchwork Girl” by Shelly Jackson, enough. The framework is a little outdated in the day of touch screens, but it’s a great literary work that uses the interactive medium itself thematically, and not simply as a vessel to deliver the story.

I also recommend people take a look at Theatre of the Oppressed, a theater style aimed at engaging the audience on difficult topics through participation and improv.

You can find more general info by searching for interactive fiction (IF), hypertext fiction, and wovels (web novel).

These sites have free software you can use to create your own interactive stories: