Twine 2: How to Create Your First Story
Before you create your first story using Twine 2, please read Where Your Stories Are Saved!
This page will step you through creating a very simple branching story with Twine. We’ll start with the premise that you play an astronaut exploring the far reaches of space. You’ve found a planet that seems just like Earth, only there are strange creatures leaving on it instead of humans!
Let’s start at the Twine story list. It looks like this:
Although yours will look different, since you don’t have any stories yet created. You’ll be taken there after Twine shows you some introductory information. If you’re not sure how to open Twine, read the Getting Started instructions.
Use the green + Story button on the right side of the screen to get started with your new story. It will pop open a balloon asking what to call it. You can name it whatever you like – if you’re not feeling creative, you can’t go wrong with Strange Encounter in Space.
As soon as you give your story a name, you’ll be taken to its story map. The story map is a canvas for your story that will expand in size as much as you like. You can move around it using the scroll bars of the window, or if you’re using a touch-based device, just dragging around with your finger. You can also zoom out to see more of it by using these buttons:
You’ll notice that a box pops onto your story map as soon as it opens, called “Untitled Passage.” Your story will be made up of individual passages. Usually, passages are shown one at a time to a reader. Let’s enter some text in that starting passage. You can do that by either double-clicking it with a mouse, or by tapping it with your finger on a touch-based device and choosing the pencil from the icons that appear:
At the top of the editor that appears is a field with your passage’s name. You can change that any time. Underneath that is a button to add tags to your passage. For now, you can leave that be. The rest of the editor is for changing the text. Go ahead and enter a description of what encountering those creatures is like. Or… you can just copy and paste the below:
As soon as the hatch of your ship, the Coriolis, opens, you see the creatures swarming around you. There are many of them, more than you can easily count, and they are all continuously in motion.
Close the passage editor either with the Escape key, or by clicking or tapping the X in the upper-right corner. There’s no need to save your work – Twine will automatically do it for you as you make changes. Now let’s see what it looks like in action. Click or tap the Play button on the right side of the toolbar.
A new window or tab will appear that shows your story in playable format. Except… it’s not very playable right now, is it? There’s nothing for a reader to do but read. Let’s add some choices for what to do next. Go back to the story map and edit your passage again, and add this text at the bottom:
[[Try talking to the creatures]]
[[Walk down the ramp of your spaceship]]
As soon as you close the editor, Twine will create two new passages for you with the names of these choices, and draw connecting lines between them to show that they’re linked. These passages have a thinner border than the first one. Twine highlights the starting point of your story with a thicker border. You can change the starting point with the rocketship icon on the passage’s menu. (Think of it like a ship taking off a voyage.)
The text that is shown to the reader can be different from the name of your passage. See How to Create Links for details.
You can rearrange the passages in the story map by dragging them with your mouse or finger. Organize things however you like! Go ahead and edit these new passages with what you think would happen next. Are the creatures hostile? Do they understand the protagonist’s language? (Probably not – but if they do, that’s an interesting story in itself.)
Once you’ve added text to the Try talking to the creatures and Walk down the ramp of your spaceship passages, try the Play button again. You’ll now see clickable links at the end of your story.
So, now you know enough to create a simple story! You can either keep adding passages to those new ones, or even go back to the beginning and add another option, like [[Scan the creatures with your equipment]].
Once you’re done with your story, click or tap the title of your story in the toolbar. It has a little upward triangle at its end, like ▲, to indicate that it’s a menu. This is the story menu. It contains options that you won’t use as often as you work on your story. For example, you can Rename Story from this menu, but what we’re interested in doing is Publish to File. This will save your story into an HTML file that works on its own – your readers don’t have to install Twine themselves. You can email this file to me to post it for the world to see.
If you’re using Twine on Safari on OS X, then the Publish to File option will open a new tab with what looks like a lot of code. This is unfortunately a limitation of this particular browser. Just choose Save As from the File menu to save it as a file.
That’s it! You now know everything you need to make a simple story. Of course, there’s a lot more you can accomplish with Twine. The rest of this guide can help you learn.