For my first project of the semester, I knew I wanted to do something with Marie de France. I say that but it’s sort of a lie. I did consider doing a text quest with Beowulf at first because, as an epic, it just has more action and grand adventure in it by nature which I thought would probably be more interesting for a text quest (is there another name for this? text-based adventure game? I would say choose your own adventure, but I did mine different from that format which I’ll explain soon). I ultimately didn’t use Beowulf because it just wouldn’t have fit the style of writing I prefer to use, and it didn’t interest me in the way that Marie de France’s poems did.
From here, I tried to think of what sort of text quest I would make (using Judith Shoaf’s translations). Because love is a common theme between Bisclavret, Lanval, and Chevrefoil, I considered doing some sort of “Love Lessons” text quest where you would venture through the story of each of the aforementioned poems and at the end would learn what lesson Marie de France may have been trying to convey about love through that particular poem. This idea was scrapped because I quickly learned how time consuming it was to do a text quest for just one of the poems. I ended up doing Lanval because it is my favorite out of the three poems (Chevrefoil is pretty but harder to understand. Bisclavret is fine too but didn’t resonate with me the same way Lanval did).
Anyway, like I mentioned, my text quest isn’t in the “choose your own adventure” style. I thought it would be interesting to sort of tap into Lanval’s mind/put ourselves into his shoes and follow along with his thoughts and feelings throughout. Obviously I took a lot of creative liberties with this. The time period isn’t necessarily medieval in my retelling either, because I wanted readers to imagine it however they wanted since it’s their journey in a sense. As for this style of text quest… as a writer, I’m the type to throw myself in and hop on whatever ideas come into my head so I thought for this text quest, I would just write and then highlight whatever words made a thought pop into my head. I then decided to chase these thoughts and making them into brief, mini-deviations from the main story. I have no idea how to explain how I did this, I think it makes more sense to go through the quest. I’m definitely not familiar with this style of writing, but I do like trying new writing forms and this one I thought was fun. Also I definitely recommend using Twine to anyone interested in this stuff. It’s super user-friendly!
As for why literature matters… I think it’s super cool how everyone can sort of play off of each other’s works to create new things! This isn’t the most insightful answer but I’m standing by it because I still think it’s true. If you assigned a group of people one basic storyline, you would still come away with many unique and different stories because literature and what you put into it is so adaptable. For example, one person could put a lot of historical contexts into the story while another could focus on putting meaningful representation of minorities into it. We can keep building off of genres and things that have already been done before and, through this, we can keep producing works that then go on to inspire others to make their own works. I think it’s important to foster our creativity like this.