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Writing Fiction for New Media

Course Times & Enrolment

Wednesdays from 27th September 2023 (Code CW092-101) Wednesdays from
27th September 2023 6:30pm - 8:20pm • (10 classes)
LG49 Paterson's Land, Holyrood Campus • Tutor: Gavin Inglis BSc
This course is now closed for enrolments

Course Summary

Storytelling is changing, through interactive narrative, hypertext, site-specific audio, virtual environments and videogames. Find out how writers of fiction can use both digital technology and traditional approaches to tell stories in new ways. With tutor support, you will develop individual and group writing projects throughout the term. The course will focus on the development of ideas as opposed to the learning of technology.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

Students should have written some fiction already, and should feel comfortable sharing their work with others. Basic IT skills (email, word processing, web use) will be helpful but no advanced IT skills are required.

Content of Course

1. Overview of storytelling in digital, interactive and new media. Literary roots. Introduction to the course-long project and suggestions for project format.

2. Introduction to interactive, branching fiction. Historical and modern examples. Technical introduction to Twine and its use to create branching fiction.

3. Environmental storytelling; using virtual spaces to present stories using discovery and context. For practice, students will construct a story transforming a physical space (e.g. a classroom) into a fictional one

4. Mystery structures in conventional fiction; their application to storytelling through games.

5. Beyond branching to non-linear storytelling. Classic hypertext fictions and modern examples.

6. Location-based storytelling. Working collaboratively with historic and on-site sources.

7. Using audio: from radio drama to podcasts, fitness games and beyond.

8. The correspondence novel updated for a digital audience: blogs, email and social media storytelling.

9. Story construction as a game: the new generation of indie role-playing games for shared story creation.

10. Student presentations on individual projects; complete works welcome, but also works-in-progress and developing designs.

Teaching method(s)

Ten two-hour sessions combining lecture, demonstration, discussion and workshop. Each student will work on an individual project, and regular time will be set aside in class to help progress this. In week 3, the class will be divided into two or three groups and send to separate rooms to construct a story using that space.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Use a range of forms of communication effectively in both familiar and new contexts;

  • Plan and deliver an innovative storytelling project;

  • Understand, critically appraise and apply new technologies for their writing.


Core Readings


  • Wardrip-Fruin, N and Harrigan, P., 2004. First Person: New Media as Story, Performance and Game. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press

Web Sources

Twine: an open-source tool for telling interactive, non-linear stories.

Episode: a mobile storytelling network and platform

Emily Short: essays and reviews on narrative in games and new media

Class Handouts

Class handouts will be provided each week with references to tools and further reading.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.