Melbourne Writers Festival takes storytelling to the streets

Created for the Melbourne Writers Festival, Twists & Turns is an exciting new storytelling app that lets you ‘choose your own adventure’. To find out more, we spoke to the developer, Leena van Deventer.

Smartphone on wooden desk with 'Twists & Turns' on screen against yellow background

Twists & Turns – the choice is yours


How does Twists & Turns work?
Twists & Turns transforms you into the hero of your own adventure story. Starting at Melbourne Town Hall, you listen via iPhone to a story that twists and turns depending on the streets you walk down. The app features exclusive stories by Nic Low, Leanne Hall and Liam Pieper, and is narrated by actors John Wood, Noni Hazlehurst, John Flaus and Richard Piper.
What is unique about this storytelling app?
We’re pretty sure Twists & Turns is an Australian first in using geolocation to deliver a branching narrative storytelling experience to smartphones, which is exciting for the festival!
How did you work with the writers to create stories that vary depending on the location? 
We ran workshops on switching gear from writing linear stories to creating branching narratives, then the writers did what they do best – word herding!
How does Melbourne feature as a ‘character’ in the stories?
Melbourne is the lifeblood of the stories – they couldn’t happen anywhere else. The geo-tagging aspect roots them firmly here, then the writers reinforce that by referencing the sights, sounds and smells of specific laneways, arcades and other locations. Melbourne is their muse and their canvas!
Do you see an appetite for more fiction like this being created in the future?
Absolutely! There’s interest bubbling up all over the world for storytelling experiences like this, so hopefully Twists & Turns will expose not just players and readers to this kind of experience, but writers and makers as well. The intersection between game and novel is a really exciting space to work and play in!
The Melbourne Writers Festival runs until 31 August. Download the free Twists & Turns app and start exploring.