Twine Review

Twine is a tool for digital storytelling platform originally created by Baltimore-based programmer Chris Klimas back in 2009. It’s also a very straightforward turn-based game creation engine typically used for interactive fiction.

Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “I’m a serious researcher who don’t got no time for games.” Well, games are increasingly being recognized as an important part of digital pedagogy in libraries, at least according to this awesome digital pedagogy LibGuide from University of Toronto. Plus, if you’re a researcher interested in presenting your story in a nonlinear way, letting readers explore the subject at their own pace and based on what they are interested in, this could be the digital scholarship platform for you! Twine is a very easy-to-use tool, and allows you to incorporate links to videos and diagrams as well. You can also create interactive workflows and tutorials for different subjects. It’s also a lot of fun, something I don’t often say about the tools I review for this blog.

Twine is open source and free. Currently, there are three versions of Twine maintained by different repositories.There is already a lot of documentation and tutorials available for Twine so I will not be reinventing the wheel, but rather showing some of Twine’s features and clarifying things that I found confusing. Twine 1 still exists and there are certain functions that are only possible there; however, we are going to be focusing on Twine 2, which is newer and updated.

Twine 2

An example of a story on Twine

What simple Twine games look like. You would click on a linked blue or purple text to go to the next page of the story.

The Desktop version is identical to the online version; however, stories are a lot less likely to be inadvertently deleted on the desktop version. If you want to work on stories offline, or often forget to archive, you may prefer this option.

Desktop version of Twine


Story editor in Twine 2, Desktop edition with all your options for each passage. Yes I named the story Desktop Version of Twine.

You start with an Untitled passage, which you can change the title and content of. Depending on the version of Twine you have set up, you write in a  text-based coding language, and connect the passages of your story using links written between brackets like [[link]] that automatically generate a new passage. There are ways to hide the destination. More advanced users can add logic-based elements such as “if” statements in order to create games.

You cannot install the desktop version on the computers in Scholarly Commons, so let’s look at the browser version. Twine will give you reminders, but it’s always important to know that if you clear your browser files while working on a Twine project, you will lose your story. However, you can archive your file as an HTML document to ensure that you can continue to access it. We recommend that you archive your files often.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to archive your stories. Step 1: Click the “Home” icon.

Twine editor with link to home menu circled


Click “Archive”

Arrow pointing at archive in main Twine menu

This is also where you can start or import stories.

Save Your File

Save archive file in Twine for browser

Note: You should probably  move the file from Downloads and paste it somewhere more stable, such as a flashdrive or the Cloud.

When you are ready to start writing again you can import your story file, which will have been saved as an HTML document. Also, keep in mind if you’re using a public or shared computer, Twine is based on the browser, so it will be accessible to whoever is using the browser.

And if you’re interested in interactive fiction or text-based games, there are a lot of platforms you might want to explore in addition to Twine such as: and  and 

Let us know in the comments your thoughts on Twine and similar platforms as well as the role of games and interactive fiction in research!

Meet Harriett Green, English and Digital Humanities Librarian

Picture of Harriett Green

This latest installment in our series of interviews with Scholarly Commons experts and affiliates features Harriett Green, the Library’s English and Digital Humanities Librarian.

What is your background education and work experience?

I have a bachelor of arts in History and Literature, a master’s degree in humanities/creative writing, and I earned my MSLIS from Illinois.  My position here at Illinois as English and Digital Humanities Librarian is my first library position, and before that, I worked in scholarly publishing.

What led you to this field?

I saw libraries as an opportunity to remain engaged with academia, scholarly research, and intriguing discoveries, but from the opposite end of publishing: I saw how the cake was made, and now I get to sell delectable treats to others!  And when I learned more about digital humanities and digital libraries, I became really interested in how libraries are at the intersection of technology and society, and the impact we can have in helping people navigate the digital culture we live in today.

What is your research agenda?

My research focuses on several areas related to digital humanities: In one thread, I’m interested in the information behaviors and research practices of humanities scholars, and how they use digital tools increasingly in their work. I also examine digital humanities in the classroom, and have written on digital pedagogy and how librarians can collaborate with faculty in courses. I am also interested in exploring humanities data curation, and the nature of humanities data, and the unique digital curation needs for humanities research.

Do you have any favorite work-related duties?

I enjoy working with students in the classroom and on their research: there’s nothing like seeing a student make a new connection thanks to finding that one resource!

What are some of your favorite underutilized resources that you would recommend to researchers?

The Karlsruhe catalog is the not-so-known World Cat: The portal connects you to a global network of library catalogs and digs up the stuff you can’t find elsewhere!

If you could recommend only one book to beginning researchers in your field, what would you recommend?

It would be Parker Palmer’s The Courage To Teach because the book is more than simply a guidebook on teaching, but a thoughtful discussion on what it means to bring our true, “authentic” selves into our work.

Need assistance with a Digital Humanities project? E-mail Harriett Green or the Scholarly Commons.