Story Scrapbook

Today author Tristan Bancks tells about the development of his new app Story Scrapbook, a tool to assist with the creative writing process.

I write books for children and teens: Mac Slater Coolhunter, Nit Boy, Galactic Adventures and My Life & Other Stuff I Made Up. I use visual, aural, textual, web-based and interactive tools to prompt and inspire my writing process. Story Scrapbook is a new (free!) story brainstorming app based on my cross-media creative process that brings writing alive for children and teens. I developed the app with revolutionary new media developer Ben Train to assist us in co-writing a story.
The app, for Mac and PC, allows users to bring together text, images, video, music, sticky notes and Google Maps on virtual scrapbook pages. A simple idea about a kid with the worst case of nits in world history or a killer magpie or a boy with a dream of going into space becomes ‘real’ when it is brought alive using multimedia tools. There are no more, ‘I don’t know what to write about’ complaints or one-size-fits-all story starters on the whiteboard. Students can explore their own interests and brainstorm their own unique stories using an engaging, contemporary tool that they understand.
As a child, if I read a book or watched a movie I would feel inspired to create my own story for screen or page. Story Scrapbook will, hopefully, inspire other young readers, writers and creators to do the same. And not just those who learn textually or have been born with a creative ‘gift’.
Since the launch of the Beta version in May I have been touring Story Scrapbook to festivals and schools from Sydney to Brisbane and out to Armidale, creating collaborative stories on smartboards and having students trial the app on individual computers in workshops. They have provided feedback on their likes and suggestions and have been instrumental in the ongoing development of the app. Feedback has been resoundingly positive.

Steve Jobs, co-creator of Apple and Pixar, said that the original instructions for the Star Trek video game were:
1. Insert coin.
2. Avoid Klingons
We have tried to do similarly with Story Scrapbook. On the web page there is a Quick-start pdf and an introductory video (see above) but other than that, students are invited to experiment and discover the app for themselves. This has proven a greater challenge for older people and the less computer-savvy but the tool has been created with children and teens in mind.
We are building a community around the app and we are currently developing an HTML5 version, which will allow easy embedding and sharing of the interactive creations. My hope is to build a suite of free or very inexpensive digital creative tools on my website and to continue to inspire and nurture others’ ability and confidence to create.
I would love you to be part of this process by downloading and testing the app, then sharing your discoveries. Find out more and download the app on the Story Scrapbook page.


Congratulations to Tristan for creating such a great tool. He is touring the app to schools in Melbourne from August 6-10. To find out more visit Tristan’s website.

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