Inklewriter is a piece of web-based software that allows you to write Choose Our Way tale (COWtale) stories.
What is a Choose Our Way tale?
It’s a story where you get to make choices that affect what happens. You may have read some when you were younger. They were along the lines of – “If you want to poke the sleeping bear, turn to page 3. / If you want to run away and hide, turn to page 17.” Remember those? I hope so. They were fun!
How can I access Inklewriter?
Great question! You can find it here: https://writer.inklestudios.com/
Beginning at the Beginning
The first thing you want to do is direct your web browser to the Inklewriter webpage. You will be greeted with the menu screen.
Next, select “Sign in” and “Create new account.”
You can use your school email address, or a personal e-mail address to create an account. This will allow you to retrieve your password when you inevitably forget it, so you can regain access to your work.
Writing with Inkle
Once you have logged in, you will be greeted with the welcome screen. This is a new story, ready to be written by you!
We are going to be writing a test story to familiarize ourselves with the software. It’s not going to be a good story, but it will help us learn the tools.
Change Untitled Story to “The Girl in the Tree.”
Change Anonymous to your name, as the author.
We are now ready to begin!
Writing Our First Story: The Girl in the Tree
The first thing you need to do is write the opening text. This will be the first thing the reader sees when they read your story. You cannot link back to this page (more on linking later. Just know that whatever you put here will only be seen this one time.
Out with the old, in with the new.
Highlight “Once upon a time…” and delete that. We don’t need that anymore. Instead, replace it with the following opening of the story:
Waking up from her nap, the girl looked out from her tree. Not far away, she saw smoke rising through the forest.
Note: The red text that reads End. Is there because this is the last part of the story. There is no more to read. Isn’t that sad? It is! You need to click on “Add option”. This will allow you to add choices for the girl to make.
For the first option, write “She jumped from the tree to examine the smoke.”
For the second option, write “She ignored the smoke and went back to bed.”
Note: see how there is now red text reading 2 loose ends? That means that neither of the two options link to any other pages. You can also tell by the fact that the circle around the arrows are dotted.
Hover over the first dotted circle, for “She jumped from the tree…”
When you click it a new page will appear. This is what the reader will see if they select that option.
Write the following in that box:
When she neared the smoke, she could see large flames. The heat was unbearable.
We are going to add two more options for this, as well.
For the first new option write, “She jumped into the flames.”
For the second option write, “She started running away from the flames.”
By now, you should be an expert at creating new options, and linking them. But now, we are going to create an ending.
Creating an ending
Select the “She jumped into the flames.” option and write the following in the new page:
She burned up and died. So sad.
You have now written a story all the way to the end. But this is a choose your own adventure story, after all. One ending does not mean the only way a story ends. There are lots of different possibilities, right? At least one must make the girl survive! She’s awesome.
But how do we do that? Great question.
See those grey backwards arrows at the top right of each box? If you click on one, you can go back to that page and see all the options that were available on that page.
Click on the backwards arrow of the top box.
Note: the circle around option one’s arrow is now solid, because it links to something. Now click the dotted circle for “She ignored the smoke”
Linking to the same page as another option
Since she ignored the flames, she’s going to burn up again. But it’s easy to do that, since we have already written that ending! Click on the dotted circle. Now click “Join to an existing paragraph.”
You will see the contents pane, which can be opened at any time using the “contents” button. Now you just need to select the paragraph you want it to link to. In this case, the ending. Click on “She burned up and died. So sad.”
Now that you’ve linked to this ending, you have completed all the loose ends in your first pane. If you accidentally “Unlink” a page, you can use this method to re-link it again.
You can use the backwards arrow to navigate back to the first page, and find other pages you need to complete. Or, you can click on the “Contents” button to open that pane again.
Navigating through the contents pane
The contents pane is an overview of your story. It shows you what pages are endings, and what pages have links. It also shows you what pages have loose ends.
Remember, loose ends are links that don’t go anywhere. Let us fix that.
Click on “When she neared…” in the Contents pane, to automatically select that page.
You will now see another unlinked option. Remember, this is depicted as a dotted circle around an arrow. Click on that arrow to create the options for “She started running away…”
In that new page, write:
She was almost clear of the forest! She was going to make it!
Then add the two options:
1. For some reason, she decided to go back to see the fire.
2. She burst out of the forest, into the safety of the field beyond.
Linking to a previous choice page
Now we are going to connect an option to a paragraph we have already written. When the girl runs backwards, she will return to the fire. To link to that paragraph, first click the dotted circle for “For some reason, she decided to go back to see the fire.” Next, choose “join to an existing paragraph” once more. Finally, select “when she neared the smoke…” This will warn you that you are creating a loop. Click OK. It’s fine, because there are options to get out of the loop.
In the contents pane, go back to “She was almost clear…”
You may need to click the backwards arrow in the top right of that box, selecting “rewind to here.”
Making another ending.
Click on the dotted circle for “She burst out of the forest…”
In the final box, write:
From the safety of the field, she watched the fire burn, and marveled at its destructive beauty.
Checking that your work is finished
Look through the Contents pane and confirm that there are no loose ends. You can now click on the READ button on the top right to enjoy your story.
Reading the Story
You will now have a beautiful choose your own adventure story that you can read, and click through. This “read” mode will allow you to click the little arrows to move backwards. This is so you can test your story.
You may find that it does not start at the beginning. Click the top back arrow to navigate to the first page.
Once you are happy with your story, you can create a link for other people to read your story. They will not have the option to simply move backwards in time.
Sharing your Story
Once you have finished your story, and it is ready for other people to see (or for you to hand in as part of a class assignment) you will need to SHARE your story.
To do this, click on SHARE in the top left menu.
Note: You must have made an account and signed in to access this feature. If you ignored that step, create your account now.
You will then be shown a web link. You can copy that, and pass it to friends and family so they can enjoy your story.
What’s next is you will write your own story. You can use the attached sheet to help you create options, or think about non-linear narratives. They can be chaotic at first. You may also want to click the “tutorial option” to learn more. Or, read the information page here: http://www.inklestudios.com/inklewriter/getting-started/
This document contains the above tutorial, and images, in an easy to print format that is classroom ready, and perfect for distributing to students. Feel free to distribute my sheets for non-commercial purposes.