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Author: Lyle Skains

Founder of Wonderbox Publishing. Writer of speculative fiction and digital fiction, and researcher in digital fiction and e-publishing.
2018 Opening Up Digital Fiction Writing Competition Winners

2018 Opening Up Digital Fiction Writing Competition Winners

Judges’ Prize Digital Fiction

Winner

Dolores and the Cave by Magda KnightDolores and the Cave by Magda Knight

COME INTO THE CAVE, DOLORES.

NOTHING BAD EVER HAPPENED IN A CAVE.

You have your team, your caving gear, your equipment. You’re all set to descend into a previously unexplored cave – the find of a lifetime. But as you abseil down you hear the rumble of a cave-in, and that’s the last thing you remember.

Then a voice starts talking to you in the dark…

***

Dolores and the Cave is a ten-minute horror game with nine different endings to explore.

Don’t worry, Dolores.

Everything will be just fine.

Honourable Mention

The Shootout by Alan Bigelow

The Shootout is an Old West adventure with an animated comic strip and the reader’s choice of ending. A narrator leads us through the story and, when he falters in his narrative, is prompted by the reader (via touch or mouse click) to continue.

An audio track is included which echoes and accentuates the action on each page.

End user interactivity in this work is a combination of swipes (or use of the space bar or arrows on a keyboard) with various opportunities for touch (on a tablet or phone) or mouse click (on a desktop or laptop). The piece includes a reader’s choice of ending which is selected through touch or mouse click.

This work is built with HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript and playable on desktop, laptop, and portable devices.

People’s Choice Digital Fiction

Winner

This is a Picture of Wind by J. R. Carpenter

This is a Picture of Wind expands upon a series of short texts written in response to the winter storms which battered South West England in early 2014, resulting in catastrophic flooding in Somerset and the destruction of the seawall and rail line at Dawlish in Devon. Following the news in the months after these storms, I was struck by the paradox presented by attempts to evoke through the materiality of language a force such as wind which we can only see indirectly through its affect. I began to explore weather in all its written forms.

Part poetic almanac, part private weather diary, and part live wind report for the South West of England, this work attempts to call attention to climate change by picturing through variations in language the disturbances and sudden absences left in the wake of wind.

This work is designed to be read on phones but also works on computers. It calls on live wind data, so it will look different every time you view it. A new text will be added for each month of 2018. A text about this work written by Johanna Drucker will be published in March 2018.

Honourable Mention

St. Ives by Storymax
Android / iOS

To teach and have fun at the same time, St. Ives introduces the traditional English poem “I was going to St. Ives”, transforming the lullaby, with cute and fun characters: one man, seven women and cats, a lot of cats!

This song is also known as a puzzle and encourages children to use logic concepts and deduction skills to discover how many people were truly going to St Ives.

Besides the music, the rhyme and the puzzle, in this app book you can find two activities:

  • A women’s band playing the theme song (the reader can choose the instruments)
  • And a quiz that brings the attention of the readers to the characters that appear in the narrative

Student Prize

Winner

War of the Worlds 2017 by Liam Philipson

War of the Worlds 2017 is an examination of the modern US political climate through the lens of the classic Wells novel. When cylinders from an alien world set up shop on a defenseless Earth, Carrie, a shy art student, must make the perilous trek across a Martian-controlled New York to try and reach her brilliant girlfriend, trapped in a bunker underneath her NYC school.

WoTW2017 explores the all-too-familiar feeling of a news cycle out of control and the pressing concern that the people who have, against all odds, planted themselves in charge of world affairs might be both malevolent and unprepared for their responsibility. It also tries to be compelling science fiction on its own, adapting and modernizing Wells’ work where necessary while keeping true to the spirit and the imagery of the original.

Honourable Mention

Lysdexia by Matthew Kramer

This web comic works to explain dyslexia while attempting, to re-create the feeling of experiencing it.

Children’s Digital Fiction Prize

Winner

Storymax App by Storymax
Android / iOS

To read with pleasure and for those who enjoy reading. With this motto, the awarded publisher StoryMax launches this app that brings together all their stories already published (for free and paid) and starts a new journey.

StoryMax’s app books retell classics, popular narratives and poems with original texts and adaptations, sound effects, narration and interactivity in the right amount to engage children and young people who love to be immersed in experiences that start at their favorite devices: tablets and smartphones.

Honourable Mention

Inanimate Alice: Perpetual Nomads by Mez Breeze Design & Bradfield Narrative Designs

Inanimate Alice tells the story of a girl growing up dreaming of becoming a game designer one day. Uniquely, it is a tale of progressive complexity, each episode reflecting Alice’s age and digital competency as she grows up.

In Perpetual Nomads, Alice is stuck on a broken down Autobus and finding herself alone in the middle of the desert with a rapidly dying phone battery, what’s Alice supposed to do? Who can Alice trust to help her charge her phone, fix the AutoBus and get her on her way back home?

Writing Digital Fiction, Part 1: Why Write Digital Fiction?

Writing Digital Fiction, Part 1: Why Write Digital Fiction?

I recently received an email from a colleague asking me about digital fiction workshops. (FYI, while I don’t have workshops scheduled at the moment, Dreaming Methods does.) While I do think in-person workshops are ideal, let’s face it: writing retreats aren’t offering courses in DF yet, and the few of us who write and teach it can’t be everywhere! A quick Google search showed me that the only articles written on the topic were written by yours truly, and never in sufficient how-to depth.

So here goes.

This is Part 1 of what will be a planned 9-part series on how to write digital fiction.

Read More Read More

Podcast Episode 8: In Search of Completionism

Podcast Episode 8: In Search of Completionism


In this last episode of the season, we revisit some topics to explore them further, including: digital fiction museums, locative transmedia works, publishing digital fiction, walking sims, and the future. BONUS: Blooper reel!

Links mentioned in this episode:

See Lyle’s profile and work on her website, and Jordan’s research and writing musings here.
Many thanks to Bangor University’s School of Creative Studies & Media for use of their recording equipment and support of this podcast.Produced by Lyle Skains & Jordan Glendenning. Music from Kurt James Werner.

The 2018 Opening Up Digital Fiction Shortlist Is Open for Voting!

The 2018 Opening Up Digital Fiction Shortlist Is Open for Voting!

The shortlist has been posted, and the voting is open until 30 July 2018 for the People’s Choice award for the 2018 Opening Up Digital Fiction Writing Competition. Go have a read of some great digital fiction, then let us know which one you think deserves the top spot.

Share far and wide – everyone deserves good digital fiction!

Podcast Episode 7: Publishing Digital Fiction

Podcast Episode 7: Publishing Digital Fiction


Why isn’t digital fiction everywhere? Part of the reason we don’t see it in stores is because it doesn’t have an established publishing stream. We look at some of the publishing efforts in the history of digital fiction in this episode.

Links mentioned in this episode:

See Lyle’s profile and work on her website, and Jordan’s research and writing musings here.
Many thanks to Bangor University’s School of Creative Studies & Media for use of their recording equipment and support of this podcast.Produced by Lyle Skains & Jordan Glendenning. Music from Kurt James Werner.

Normal Deviation is in Print!

Normal Deviation is in Print!

Normal Deviation Cover

Buy it on Amazon now!

It’s here! We launched Normal Deviation this past Saturday (write-up to follow on the Normal Deviation blog; visit our Facebook page for a video of the livestream), to much applause. It’s been a fantastic learning curve, but we’re so happy to have the book out on time, with 24 absolutely fantastically weird stories.

It’s available in all Amazon stores in paperback and ebook. Get your copy, leave us a review, and let us know how you like it!

Podcast Episode 6: Putting the ‘Cyber’ in Writing

Podcast Episode 6: Putting the ‘Cyber’ in Writing


We finally get to talk about our favorite topic: writing digital fiction! What are the most frequent questions we get as digital writers? How is it different from prose writing? How is it the same? Since we’re practice-based researchers in creative writing, these are just the sorts of questions we are looking to answer in our creative work.

Links mentioned in this episode:

See Lyle’s profile and work on her website, and Jordan’s research and writing musings here.
Many thanks to Bangor University’s School of Creative Studies & Media for use of their recording equipment and support of this podcast.Produced by Lyle Skains & Jordan Glendenning. Music from Kurt James Werner.

Podcast Episode 5: Transmedia Rabbit Holes

Podcast Episode 5: Transmedia Rabbit Holes


Our deepest apologies for the unplanned hiatus! As working academics, end-of-the-year marking and administration tasks overwhelmed us for a while. 

Digital media has the ability to both transcend and combine narrative forms: film, game, text, music, and more. As a result of the mutable quality of digital media and the networked capability of the internet, narratives now spill over multiple media, with different elements of the story spread across film, forums, TV, books, and more. We go down some transmedia narrative rabbit holes, discussing what transmedia storytelling is and how it’s being used.

Links mentioned in this episode:

Bonus Pic:

Lyle’s horse in his “bunny suit”.

This episode’s “Pick a Card” topic:

See Lyle’s profile and work on her website, and Jordan’s research and writing musings here.
Many thanks to Bangor University’s School of Creative Studies & Media for use of their recording equipment and support of this podcast.Produced by Lyle Skains & Jordan Glendenning. Music from Kurt James Werner.

Podcast Episode 4: Losing My Digital Fiction

Podcast Episode 4: Losing My Digital Fiction

Note: It appears the podcast feed wasn’t coming through to this site – sorry for the slew of updates, but didn’t want anyone to miss out on episodes!

Like all things digital, digital fiction is prone to obsolescence, and we’re already losing key works. We chat about the evanescence of the medium, archiving digital fiction, and what we do as writers to make our works accessible for as long as possible – and whether we should even bother.

Links mentioned in this episode:

See Lyle’s profile and work on her website, and Jordan’s research and writing musings here.

Many thanks to Bangor University’s School of Creative Studies & Media for use of their recording equipment and support of this podcast.Produced by Lyle Skains & Jordan Glendenning. Music from Kurt James Werner.

Short Fiction Anthologies, Digital Fiction Podcasts, and More!

Short Fiction Anthologies, Digital Fiction Podcasts, and More!

Kickstarter campaign promo
Click to go to Kickstarter

It’s been a busy, busy, busy few weeks here at Wonderbox. DeAnn Bell and I are drawing down to our final days working with Normal Deviation, our short story anthology of weird fiction based on that super-strange image, and the Kickstarter campaign for it is well underway. If you want to get a taste of the stories, hop over to Kickstarter and back us: if we can get to £1000 by Wednesday 2 May, we’ll preview a short story for backers only!

Wonderbox Podcast

On the podcast front, Jordan Glendenning and I have released a steady stream of episodes on digital fiction in the last few weeks, starting with a discussion of the works you see around the web that you might not have identified as digital fiction. We just recorded our discussion on what it takes to write digital fiction, and we still feel like we’ve barely scratched the surface! So if you’re interested in learning more about digital fiction, and engaging in our ongoing chat about it, head over to the Wonderbox podcast, subscribe, review, and share!

We’re always interested in feedback, in posting reviews of works, and suggestions. Post a comment, drop us a line, and let us know what’s going on!