Screw head coming out of a piece of wood.
Is this you?

This little article is a guide to what I’ve seen of these shitshow contracts, how they confuse you, how they bilk you into working unpaid hours, and how they’ll string you along with “maybe a perm job” like a toxic boyfriend who acts like Pete Davidson looks. (For the record, PD seems like a standup dude. But there’s a reason he’s known for his “Chad” sketches.) Oh, and I’ll be focusing on UK HE, since that’s where my experience lies. I have a feeling it’s very similar to the US.

Here, have some Chad.

There are an awful lot of…

Build a community with your students

Cat on a laptop
My servers all have a “cute furbabies” channel. Mental health is important, y’all. Pixabay

As we move into online and remote (and hybrid, whatever that is, for however long/short it lasts) teaching, a few folks have asked about having a “teaching on Discord” tutorial.

Well, I won’t call this a tutorial; rather it’s an overview of how I’ve used Discord on various servers (note: I’ve included a glossary at the end of this post) for online community interaction. A quick caveat: I’ve only been using Discord since March 2020, though I’ve now used it for my writing/postgrad community, set up and moderated two servers for online conferences, and…

Full Facepalm re: 2020 f2f instruction in 3… 2… 1…

I have always described myself as a lazy academic, particularly when it comes to teaching. If I’ve made innovations, it’s because they save me time and effort, first and foremost. When I or colleagues get super stressed from the drudgeries of academic life, I remind us: we’re not medics. If we screw up, no one dies.


The decision to bring students back to uni campuses is a LIFE OR DEATH choice. Not just for staff and students, but for the local communities. This doesn’t boil down to…

Weird Facebook and tag groups are the relief we all need

How I like to imagine every tag group admin. Photo by Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay.

I am way late to the Weird Facebook scene, but damn am I glad I’ve discovered it. Between the cat groups and the tag groups, I have found a new joy in online life.

Like a lot of people, I’ve wished many times I could leave Facebook — my feed is a depressing scroll of fascism, stupidity, and the occasional animal cruelty “awareness” photo (WHY DO YOU SHARE THESE?!?!), alternating with fundraising pleas and passive aggressive shade memes. Unfortunately, my reasons for continued existence are cats and horses, and my local horse community communicates exclusively through FB.

I hate it…

Image by qimono from Pixabay.

What can digital fiction do?

The evolution of digital fiction

First, it isn’t new. And you’ve definitely already played/read some. Some of us (I’m aging myself here) grew up with it: Oregon Trail, Zork, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, all the Infocom games. It has spread through floppy discs and mobile apps and websites and even gaming platforms. Calling it “digital fiction” is just an umbrella term that covers a lot of different types of story-games.

Digital fiction (DF; I also frequently call it, rather chunkily, “interactive digital narrative”, or IDN) has a common ancestor with computer games: early 8-bit and text adventure games. …

Stop enabling these #glitteryturds

Photo by PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay.

Here’s the thing about incompetent men: they rise. Like a turd in the community swimming pool, they rise and rise till they float on the top. Everyone can see it. Everyone knows it’s there, and what it is, and how it got there. No one will take responsibility for putting it there, of course. Much less will they take responsibility for getting it out. Worse, its continued presence, bobbing along, whether fully self-aware or not, seems to beckon: it’s okay, the shit says, winking. This pool is shit-friendly. Anyone can take a shit all over it!

Who gets out of…

A laptop covered in notes
Photo by geralt on Pixabay

Getting Started

Previous parts:

This should be a short article: all you have to do is just think of an idea and run with it, like any writer. Right? Only it’s not that easy, not even if you’re working in prose.

The digital medium adds on multiple layers of complexity. Just adding hyperlinks (the quintessential feature of digital fiction) expands your canvas exponentially. Suddenly, every item in your story can take the reader to a new page, a new branch in the tale, a new character or place or development. Instead of typing out…

A screenshot of the backend of interactive fiction platform Twine.

Why Write Digital Fiction?

I recently received an email from a colleague asking me about digital fiction workshops. (FYI, while I don’t have workshops scheduled at the moment, Dreaming Methods does.) While I do think in-person workshops are ideal, let’s face it: writing retreats aren’t offering courses in DF yet, and the few of us who write and teach it can’t be everywhere! A quick Google search showed me that the only articles written on the topic were written by yours truly, and never in sufficient how-to depth.

So here goes.

This is Part 1 of what will be a planned 9-part series on…

Bluewashed image of assorted Lego pieces.
Photo by Iker Urteaga on Unsplash

Below are the tools you can use to create digital fiction. If you want more on how to do it from A-Z, check out my How to Write Digital Fiction series.

Digital fiction (DF) as I’ll be posting about it is:

Fictional stories that are written and read on digital devices, using some element of digital interactivity or expression (e.g., links, multimedia, gameplay). DF stories would lose something — or everything — if they were expressed in print form only.

For more thorough (and scholarly) overviews of what digital fiction is, have a look at the [S]creed for Digital Fiction

Lyle Skains

Writer/researcher in digital writing, interactive narrative, & digital publishing. Hoping for the United Federation of Planets; worried we’re doomed to the 100.

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