inklewriter for writers and teachers

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Since we announced inklewriter two weeks ago it's been getting a lot of attention, which is really exciting for us. When we first started work on it, the idea was simple - we make interactive stories, but when we tell people that, they don't always get what we mean. So we thought, let's make a web-tool that lets people find out for themselves.

What we didn't expect was that, alongside all the people who want to know if "interactive" means "contains video clips and pictures", there's a whole bunch of people who already know what interactive mean, and who want to get involved. We've heard from writers - some veterans of adaptive literature, others fresher but intrigued and interested - and we've heard from teachers, interested at ways to get students interested in reading. We've spoken to educationalists, lecturers, publishers, authors. People are keen. They want to play.

I [Jon] used to be a teacher, and I'm quite excited about the idea of something like inklewriter in the classroom. I don't think it's going to solve the nation's shortage of computer programmers - the kids who want to fill those shoes need to learn Javascript and make stuff for themselves - but I think a tool like inklewriter provides a nice chance for creative types to think logically, and logical types to think creatively - and maybe even some logical and creative people to get together and collaborate. And that's a particular kind of collaboration that I do see missing in a lot of jobs and industries.

We've tried to design inklewriter to be great for serious writers too. Writing on a computer can be hard - there are so many distractions, so many things you can accidentally click. A good writing tool should get you settled fast and then get out of your way, and we've tried to make sure that, when you're using inklewriter, 88% of everything you do is typing words that people will read, and only 2% of your time is spent tying together the threads of your story. (We've left you 10% time to think of what to say.)

Also, it helps if a writing tool is pretty to look at, since if you're a writer you'll be staring at it for hours and hours and hours...

Sadly, this isn't the post where I announce that inklewriter is ready to go. It's close. Very, very close. We're hoping to get something out to some early-bird alpha-testers - you know, the kind of people who don't try to sue if our server bursts into flame and they lose an hour's work. Good people - in the next week or so.

And when it passes alpha, we've got a big list of "wouldn't it be great it if did..." ideas - widgets - that we hope to get a little started on before pushing the big GO button for the first time. (But the great thing about web-apps is, even after we release it, we can keep adding more goodies).

But one thing I do want to say now is: we've got a cute idea for how to pull everyone together. We've spoken to our publisher friends and our game-dev friends, and we think we think we've got a nice opportunity up our sleeves. So, if you're a writer looking for a challenge, you might want to start thinking...


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