This website won SXSW's award for "Experimental Websites" back in March, and looking at it now, I can totally understand why. The site is by far one of the most unique things I've seen on the internet this year. Not many sites provide as many different uses of interactive elements all in one spot. Beyond that, I'm a totally avid reader, and this site will tickle the fancy of any bookworm or lover of short stories. Enter into the interactive story-telling world of the aptly titled We Tell Stories.
There are six stories to choose from on We Tell Stories, and I'll give you a run down of each in just a second. But first, a quick word about the site itself. Each story was released over the period of a week. Some stories were told over the course of their given week, others all at once, and still others invite the reader to help write the story themselves. Each one has an interactive element all to itself, and each story makes great use of these elements.
The first week there was "21 Steps", which is an adaption by Charles Cummings of a book called "39 Steps", written by John Buchan. The story follows the main character, Rick, who is thrown into a chaotic course of events when a man who's been shot fatally uses his last moments to let Rick know that "They know who your are," and hand him a USB drive that kicks off an exciting adventure from St. Pancras in London all the way to Edinberg, Scottland. There is a lot of travelling going on in the book, and so it is told piece-by-piece using Google Maps.
The second week's story is "Slice" by Toby Litt. Slice is nick-name of the main character of the story, but her real name is Lisa. She moves to London and becomes tied up in a haunted house story that is told through untraditional means. Instead reading simple chapters, readers will have to sift through her 6-days worth of blog entries, along with her parents' blog. In addition, you can follow any of them on Twitter, and interact with them via text message, or simply email the characters directly to get more out of the story. The approach is something like an "ARG" (Alternate Reality Game), and works nicely for this creepy tale.
Week 3 saw the addition of the simply titled "Fairy Tales" by Kevin Brooks. This one is really great for kids as well as adults. The story starts off with the same exposition, as well as the all-too-predictable "Once upon a time," gimmick. However, the reader is presented with a host of different options to customize the story to their liking. First you get to name two of the main characters, and as the story progresses, you choose certain details about developments in the story, resulting in a completely customized fairy tale that you can send your friends. You can even write your own epilogue if you're not happy with the one you get.
Your Place and Mine
The fourth weekly story is an improvised act by Nicci French, which is a pseudonym for a married couple whose names are Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. The two have been writing together for some time, and crafted this relationship story over the course of five days by writing live for an hour each day starting at 6:30pm. The couple compliment each other well, and the relationship described in their improvised story is one that you can count on for having really well-defined characterization.
The fifth week at We Tell Stories brought readers "Hard Times" by Nicholas Felton and Matt Mason. It's a remix of the Charles Dickens classic of the same name. In this version, Mason employs Felton as a graphic designer to tell the story of how teens are living on the internet these days. You'll be surprised at some of the statistics, which suggest a society changing at an alarming rate. You can also download a .pdf version of the story to use on presentations or to show to a class.
The (Former) General
The sixth and final story presented on We Tell Stories is "The (Former) General" by Moshin Hamid. In this story the reader gets to choose how a retired general spends his time walking about the royal palace. The story is based off of collection of Arabic folk tales, "Tales From the Thousand and One Nights." You choose on what he should reflect or think about and in turn you get the whole story of his days revealed. There are a myriad of ways this story can go, and you'll quickly get lost in how many steps you've taken to get to where you are.
I've been spending hours pouring over the great literature presented on this site, and I hope you will too. After you find a great story on We Tell Stories, you get plenty of information on how to find similar literature from the same author, which is always fun. The added bonus is that this website uses all sorts of cool ways to get you involved in the story, rather than just provide you with great literature in text form.
Go take a gander at some of the great stuff at We Tell Stories, and let us know what your favorite story was in the comments! Mine was definitely "21 Steps" and I've gone as far as to order a few followup books, including the original book.