Hey there! My name’s Leon, and I’m very excited to say that I’ll be leading an interactive writing session in Guildford, as part of the 2023 Surrey New Writers Festival this Saturday 27th May at the University of Surrey.
I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in (Guildford) games for most of my life, and have spent a good chunk of that finding ways to learn narrative design and games writing, either by myself or working for studios.
This session, titled To Do or Not To Do: An Introduction to Interactive Storytelling, is my attempt to distil and share the basics of that knowledge with enthusiasts, writers and developers alike. Hopefully, that sounds interesting to you!
That’s a fair question. Currently, I’m a Game Story Writer working remotely on leading mobile publisher Kwalee’s Casual team, and everything else is under a classic Non-Disclosure Agreement.
Outside of that, like most writers, I’ve been writing stories since I learnt to hold a pencil (I never passed the pen test at school).
But that’s not very Guildford, is it?
Before Kwalee, I had a long history with the legendary Lionhead studios thanks to my dad and then-technical director, Marcus Lynn. Some of my earliest memories are of visiting the studio during the Fable days, culminating in me completing my secondary school work experience there in 2015, shortly before the studio’s unfortunate closure.
Don’t think I’ve not made my own way, though. After that, I got some more work experience during college at the acclaimed VR studio nDreams, and then made my way into an English Literature and Creative Writing degree at the University of Surrey.
It was there I really honed my writing, and in my placement year I landed my first games writing contract with Lionhead veterans Flaming Fowl Studios, working with Asmodee on adapting old and writing new story content for the well-loved Gloomhaven Digital.
That led to me working with my university to shape their Writing Gaming module, which I still feature as a guest speaker on.
Then, shortly after I graduated, my skills and experience landed me my role at Kwalee. You can see me chat more about my role there on their blog.
Now I’m no longer working in a Guildford studio, I keep in touch with the industry here by co-running the rebooted Guildford Game Dev (GGDEV) pub nights down at the Drummond with my dad, which you’re more than welcome to join us at.
You’ll also usually find me at G.G drinks, and the Guildford Games Festival.
I’ve tried to take everything I’ve learnt about writing interactive stories during all of these experiences, and concentrate the basics into one workshop that’s accessible whether you’re involved in games or not.
I’ll be covering what interaction is, how to give it that element of “meaningful play”, and how to structure interactive stories to facilitate this interaction.
By the end, you’ll have an understanding of how write situations that encourage your players to make choices, and how to craft these choices (or lack thereof) so that they make your story—and your players’ place within it—feel real and meaningful.
And naturally, I’ll be inviting you to write alongside me—should you want to. It’ll be an interactive session on interactivity!
Perhaps most interestingly, I’ve dedicated a section of the workshop to precisely non-games writing.
I feel like interactivity is massively overlooked in writing as a whole, whether it be in poetry, prose, cinema, theatre, or copywriting. People tend to forget that the audience’s consumption of these pieces is something they’re in control of as authors.
Thus, I’ll be exploring how basic interactive concepts can enhance these usually non-interactive mediums by using structure and phrasing to give audiences space to participate within our writing.
That’s right: I think there’s a way to bring meaningful interaction to all writing, and that’s something I’ll be sharing how to do in the session!
And there we are. That’s a little about me and my workshop. Hopefully, you’ve found something interesting in this article—if not been sold on my session!
If it sounds like something you’d like to attend, you can buy tickets and read more about the Surrey New Writers Festival here.
Maybe you want to keep up to date with me? You can check out my (woefully underused) portfolio/blog (as well as find my social media) here.
And, randomly, perhaps you’re a young copywriter—or want to be. If that’s the case, take a look at Word Tonic, a thriving community of gen-z writers and copywriters I’ve been co-creating over the last few months! We’d love to welcome you :)