Interactive Writing

You might remember me, a couple of months ago, mentioning The Story Adventure and its brilliance. Don’t worry if you don’t, because the project is fully underway now and I can’t resist telling you about it all over again. Here goes…

shrunkAn author called Fleur Hitchcock, whose latest novel is Dear Scarlett, wrote a book called Shrunk!, published by Hot Key Books. This fabulous story – about a boy who moves to a model village and mysteriously gains the ability to shrink sheep, planets and, er, possibly people – totally captured the imagination of my children… and me. Then – hurray! – we discovered that the sequel was being written in an amazing, interactive way. Every week, a new chapter of the novel goes up, together with a series of related questions and activities. My little daughter buzzes with delight before she busies herself drawing, writing, cutting, sticking and otherwise completely involving herself in the latest story developments.

Isapop golf-street

One of the contributions to The Story Adventure, reproduced with the artist’s kind permission

Wow. The Story Adventure is brilliant, and we love it. If you want to join in now, it’s not too late – catch up with the chapters here. I am filled with awe at the way that the author and publisher interact with the young participants and keep them involved and full of the joy of stories, while still turning out an exciting, polished chapter every week.

Now, you might also know that I’m not a complete stranger to interactive writing. The lovely people at Fiction Express approached me a couple of years ago and asked me to write a teen book with a difference. This innovative project meant that readers could vote at the end of each chapter and decide on the direction of the story, making novel-altering changes to the plot and characters. The project is still running, with new stories developing all the time. Have a look here, and ask your teachers and librarians about Fiction Express for Schools.

Writing my own interactive novel was a daunting task, but it was also utterly rewarding. Knowing that people were reading my chapters, believing in my characters and caring about their lives… well, I think there’s no greater incentive for writing. I’ve always loved seeing exchanges between authors and readers on Goodreads, on Twitter, on Facebook… everywhere. Authors are nothing without readers. We adore readers! What better way to thank them than by, ahem, getting them to decide the names and traits of our characters? Or, double-ahem, asking them to make plot decisions for us?

I was thrilled when my interactive novel, among other Fiction Express novels, was picked up for publication by a new imprint called Curious Fox. Check out their blog –  they have some great competitions running, and lots of exciting books being released.DOAMG

Diary of a Mall Girl will be out this month as a printed paperback and in full e-book format. It’s the story of a girl who lives in a shopping centre, a location I chose carefully for the project because of its many plot possibilities. (I wrote about my Birmingham mall research here at Girl Heart Books – read “Sweet”!) Some wonderful readers helped to shape this novel, and to say I’m excited about its release would be an understatement. Thank you very much to everyone involved for making this possible!

Now, if you could all just make a few important plot decisions for my next novel… 🙂


P.S. Would you like to tell an author what to write next? Or maybe you already write interactively yourself, asking readers for direction as you go along? Tell me all in the comments!

10 thoughts on “Interactive Writing

  1. Hi Louisa,

    The interactive writing project sounds amazing.

    I’ve been keeping an eye on the Curious Fox website. Diary of a Mall Girl is on my list of ‘must have reads.’ I’ll get it on my e-reader, so my daughter and I don’t have to fight over who gets it first.


    • Oh, thank you very much, Julie! 🙂 (Please don’t pay any attention to the fact that there’s a character nicknamed ‘boring Julie’ in Diary of a Mall Girl. I can assure you she’s not. 😉 )

  2. I did an interactive story once on my sweet hearts website – it was really exciting! But exhausting too – and a bit frustrating sometimes as I thought I’d set up a nice plot point only to find that the suggestions people made took the book in a completely different direction! So pleased your book is being published, Luisa 🙂

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