Welcome to the first iteration of my first Twine story – Missteps, As told in two stories [Content Warning: abuse, harassment, stalking, and violence]. Many thanks to the folks who took the time to test a draft of this story.
Missteps is the product of a few projects and explorations during the past few months. This is a simple Twine story, and as I get more familiar with Twine, a second iteration might be in the works. It’s been an interesting experience and one that will continue to be interesting for some time to come.
The material behind the Twine story
The Twine story is inspired by true events where personal boundaries were violated. Some of these events happened to my friends and acquaintances, and some events come from having my own personal boundaries violated. I have been reluctant to write about some of the more egregious violations; it is an unwritten rule to not speak up of such violations, lest you bring yet more unwanted attention onto yourself. Still, I wanted to find a way to publicly discuss this behavior. There are many narratives from those whose boundaries have been violated, and one more story would most likely get lost in the never-ending sea of similar stories.
In thinking of a way to present the narrative, I started to wonder about the motivations of the violators. Some of the same boundary violations continued as the years pass, even when clear boundaries were set. What would make a person ignore such boundaries? Perhaps, instead of telling the narrative from the violated, the narrative would be from the viewpoint of the potential violator.
That is where this Twine began.
Is it a game, quiz, or choose your own adventure?
It would be impossible to try to write a Twine story that would 100% explain the motivation behind people who violate boundaries. There are many reasons why people violate boundaries in which I will not go into detail here. In addition, writing to one particular motivation for the violator will only resonate with a very small part of the audience, limiting the story’s potential impact. The story would have to accommodate different motivations behind potential boundary violations. The story would also have to accommodate the fact that not all violators are intentional – for some folks, navigating boundaries does not come naturally to them.
To achieve these accommodations, the Twine story would need to present each scenario in a way that would make the person self-aware as to why they made the choice to act in such a manner. I could achieve that goal with a point system based on the choices they made, like in a quiz or a game. In the end, the points tally up and the person would fall under one of several score range categories. However, this approach by itself doesn’t make the person stop to think about their choices unless it’s tied to achieving a certain score.
What the Twine story ended up being is more of a choose your own adventure with built-in reflection areas on each action the person takes. Some of these reflection areas happen during the scenario, and others happen at the end when reviewing your choices. There is still a point scale of sorts, but that system is used primarily to determine what types of reflections the person sees at the end of the scenario. By emphasizing reflection, the person is hopefully made to take a bit more ownership of their choices in the story, and the reflections in the story will carry forward after closing the browser.
This story isn’t really a game or quiz – it’s not meant for pleasure, or for fun. While it’s partly educational, it’s mostly an exercise in self-awareness on the part of the person interacting with the story.
Twine as a publishing platform
This is my first Twine story, and it probably shows. The platform shapes how one creates a narrative, and my lack of development experience in Twine did limit what I could do for this story. Nonetheless, I found my way around the basics, and for simpler interactive text adventures, Twine was a pretty decent tool for a beginner. When I downloaded the client, I didn’t know that there were three different formats you can create your story with: Harlowe, SugarCube, and Snowman. This made development a bit interesting when you are looking through documentation and are not quite sure which snippet of code would work in a Harlowe format. I also didn’t fully grasp at the very beginning what strengths each format had. I defaulted to Harlowe, but after reading the small Story Formats section in the Twine documentation, I might need to branch off to Sugar Cube if I want to expand on story interactivity or features.
There are some things that could use more polish with my first story. For example, the end screen can become one massive block of text, but due to the conditionals coded into the end screen, I would have to spend more time creating yet more conditionals to link to different screens. I don’t know if there’s a better way than manually writing said conditions; hence the investigation into SugarCube to see if there’s a function in there that can do this. The reflection areas are on the honor system – Twine does have input functions, but I haven’t had time to explore them, including effective ways in incorporating user input into the story itself. You can do a lot with Twine, which means you can go off in a thousand directions with your story.
As I said above, the experience of creating the Twine story has been an interesting one, both in content and in the platform. I hope you find the story interesting and useful, and maybe learn a thing or two that you can carry forward in your daily life.