Sana Writing Tool Tutorial
Sana Writing Tool – Introduction
The Sana Writing Tool is the tool used to write and publish branching stories for the Sana Stories app. The tool is free to use and meant for anyone, no matter if you’re a professional author or someone who wants to try out writing their first story. Anyone can submit their story that’s made with The Sana Writing Tool for publishing in the Sana Stories app, for everyone to read.
Blocks and Choices
When writing a story in the Sana Writing Tool, each story is split into multiple blocks which then are connected to each other by choices. Choices are options added at the end of a block and they allow the reader to choose in which direction the story should go. One block can have a maximum of two choices. You, as the writer, decide what options the reader has at hand at that point in the story, and where each choice takes the reader (or technically speaking, to which block the reader is taken). Should a block not have any choices available when published, from a reader perspective it then marks the end of the story because the reader cannot go anywhere anymore in the story from that block. A reader can never go back after selecting a choice. At this point, we recommend keeping choices simple, and not creating any complex “If: then” situations.
Writing a story in the Sana Writing Tool is all about writing and editing these blocks. When opening the Writing Tool, you will be presented with the block list, tree view and story view. This is where you’ll be editing and organizing your blocks. You can toggle between hiding and showing the block list and story view by pressing the “Show/Hide block list” and “Show/hide Story View” respectively from on the top-right of your screen.
The Tree View
The blocks of a story are visualized in the tree view in the center of the writing tool. The tree view features an overview of the entire story, like a map. You can zoom in and out in the tree view by scrolling, and move about by using the right mouse button. When in the tree view, you can visually rearrange the blocks of your story to give you a better overview of your story by dragging them around in the window. Here you can also see which blocks that are connected to each other by any possible lines.
To get started, you must first create blocks by pressing the “Create new block” on the upper left of your screen. This creates boxes, or the so-called blocks, in your tree view. These you can move around as you please in the tree view by simply dragging them around. To view or edit the content of a block, select it by clicking on it and its content will be displayed in the story view on the right of the tree view.
If you can’t find your story tree as you refresh your browser or open a .sana file, it’s because the canvas will always readjust and zoom to its original position. If this happens, try dragging around the canvas using the right-click or zoom out to find your story tree!
The Story View
The story view is where you do the actual editing of your story. In the story view you can:
Name your block by assigning it any name you like at the top of the story view. These names are only to help you keep track of your blocks, they will not be visible to the reader when published in the Sana Stories app.
Assign a color to your block by selecting one of the colors under the block name. You can use these colors to better visually organize the blocks of your story. Anywhere the block is displayed inside the tool, the assigned color is displayed with it.
Assign it to be the start block by pressing the switch next to the crown icon. This means that that block will be the first block in your story. You can only select one block to be your starting block, a story can have several endings, but only one beginning!
Delete your selected block by pressing “delete block”
Write the content of your block in the text editor. You can write text as Header 1, Header 2, Header 3 or as a regular paragraph. The text can be written in regular, bold or italic font.
At the bottom of the story view, you can create the choices for the block you have selected. In order to create a choice for a block, you type whatever action the reader has available at this point in the textfield and then choose from the dropdown list of blocks to which block the user is taken when making that choice. When a block is successfully connected to another block, it is visualized in the tree view by a line connecting the blocks. Should you connect a block to another block, but forget to write the text for the choice, then the tool will give you an error notice to remind you to fill in the missing text for your choice.
The Block List
The left of the tree view features the block list which shows all of the blocks in your story. This list shows all your blocks featuring their block-name, -color and whether they are the starting block, featuring the crown. You can search for any block in the “Search story block”-search bar. The Block list also has the “Create new block”-button at the top.
Working and Saving in the Tool
Currently, only one story can be edited at a time inside the writing tool. If you want to close the writing tool and continue writing later, you can press the “download .sana file” button. This creates a file containing your story and all your work up until that point that you can then store eg. on your personal computer or cloud service.
The first time you open the writing tool, you will be presented with an empty canvas. As soon as you start working on a story, your browser will remember your story to some extent. When you return to the writing tool, you should be met with the story you worked on last. We do not recommend continuing writing your story straight away when re-opening the tool. The safest way to continuously work on a story is to always reupload your .sana file when returning to the tool, and downloading the new .sana file again as you finish. Not doing so would make you rely on your browser memory which we do not recommend because if your browser data gets cleared, or something else happens to your browser memory, you could lose your work. Note also that your browser won’t remember your story if you use a different browser or computer than the one you worked on previously. Reuploading and downloading the .sana files is always the safest way to save your story without losing any of your work. We also recommend saving frequently, and storing your .sana files on a cloud like Dropbox or Google Drive, not just on your computer’s hard drive.
Publishing your story
When you feel your story is ready for publishing, download the final .sana file. You will need to send the file directly to us via this form. In the form, you will upload your .sana file and fill out any additional information such as story title, author or pen name, description, upload a cover, select genres etc. Your story will then go through an approval process before it can be published in the Sana Stories app. This process could take a few days. You will be notified by email when your story is approved.