The Spine app is all about five sentence stories. Image via technabob.com
The great Ernest Hemingway once claimed he could write a great story in six words. To prove his point, he wrote the following:
For Sale: Baby shoes, never used.
In six words he filled in the entire world of a character whose name you’ll never know. Unfortunately, we are not all Hemingway. So forget six words. Could you tell a great story in five sentences?
The folks behind a new app, Spine, think you can.
Spine lets you publish, read, rate, and share five sentence stories. It’s clean and colorful interface is intuitive and fun to use. Best of all, it gives creative people a forum to share their writing and get near-instant feedback.
The app was published by Kansas City based software company, Rarewire. Currently, it’s available for iPhone, with an Android version reportedly on the way.
Very short stories are not a new idea on the internet, with many blogs and twitter accounts dedicated to micro-stories. However, this is one of the first attempts at creating a social community around the original content.
The first time you open Spine, you’ll be presented with a simple log in or account creation screen. Following the steps, you’ll meet a brief tutorial before you’re on your way to discovering great stories or sharing your next masterpiece.
Navigation through the app is all controlled by the top-left button. Pressing it backs the user out to the main menu screen where they have the option to browse their personal feed, featured posts, top rated stories, or by genre. From this screen, users can also access and then edit their personal profiles.
Feeds work with the same mechanics of most other social networks. Here you’ll see the stories written by users you follow. Discovering users to follow is merely a matter of browsing genres or featured posts. Find a story you like? Click on the user’s profile photo go browse more stories they’ve shared. Following a user takes a simple tap at the top right of any profile page.
Stories are color-coded by genre. On the main menu, poetry is gray, while action is red, comedy is yellow, and sci-fi and drama are different shades of green. Each genre has its own color that is constant throughout the app. Once you’ve used Spine a bit, you’ll start to recognize the colors, which is very handy when browsing mixed feeds such as Featured or Top Rated stories.
Writing Your First Story
So you’ve read a few stories and you’re feeling inspired. It’s time to click the plus sign at the top right corner of any feed. Writing a story is a straightforward step-by-step process.
The first page presented asks for a title and genre. Titles have a 50 character limit, which is more than ample. Now on to the first sentence. Spine technically can’t limit you to just five sentences. What it can do, however, is give you five 100 character spaces to tell your story. While there are many stories on Spine that don’t limit themselves to the strict five sentences, it’s a fun device to challenge yourself to as a writer. With a quick glance, most Top Rated stories stick pretty closely to this goal.
Once all five beautiful sentences have been carved from the recesses of the authors mind, it’s time to decide if it’s time to publish. More often than not, that’s it! Thankfully though, there is an option to save drafts, which can be accessed and edited later.
WARNING TO ALL AUTHORS: Once your work is published, there’s no going back. The developers behind Spine say that editing after publishing is on the way, the only way to do it at the moment is delete and start over.
Spines is a fun social network for writers and non-writers alike. While some might download the app just for an interesting read, like other social networks it’s more fun once you join in the conversation. Share Spines via Facebook, Twitter, or email, so all the world can witness your new creation.
Noticeably missing is the ability to message other authors directly. This can be worked around if the user has listed a URL on their profile page, but it can be difficult to get in contact with an author you really enjoy.
Overall, Spine is a well designed app for a missing niche. With a couple of minor enhancements, writers should flock to it to channel their creativity. If a strong community fosters around good content, the sky is the limit for Spine. So take it for a test drive, see if you find a good read, and maybe share a sentence or five!
What do you think about Spine? Have you written a story? Share it in the comments below!