Monday, October 29, 2007

The Future of Storytelling?

There's actually nothing terribly profound in this article itself, but reading it did get me thinking about various experiments I've seen in hypertext- and interactive-stories. Slate had an experiment last year that was interesting, but not profound. Farrago's Wainscot has a fascinating one going now--I've enjoyed what I've read of it, though the last time I tried to catch up on everything I'd missed for a couple of months, I got mind-boggingly lost in a labyrinth of cross-links. And Ideomancer also had something similar not so long ago, one that was a bit easier to follow. Oh, and one from a few years back that was set on a train, and you could click on the different passengers to see who each was. I forget the title, something with a number in it, though.

None of those, as interesting as they might be themselves, seems likely to change storytelling. But I am always fascinated with those who are willing to try and see what happens.

The one thing the article did get me thinking about is that all these experiments are basically textual only--the occasional image, but that's all. And I love text, so nothing wrong with that. But I do wonder about other ways to expand it. They create myspace pages for the characters mentioned in the article--I wonder if anyone's tried doing that with a fictional character from a speculative work. I could definitely see that appealing to certain readers. It could even be fun to see an entire pseudo-myspace network made entirely of fictional characters. I mean, will Frodo friend Paul Maud'dib? What message will Steerpike leave on Elric's page? And what kind of music does Ged listen to? (Yes, this is tongue in cheek...and yet, only sort of)

5 comments:

Lion said...

Well, the problem with the fictional-character myspace network is, who's going to be ballsy enough to assume Frodo's identity? It would be different if all the characters' creators had a hand in it, but the whole thing would be largely fan-driven if it comes to pass. Not saying it couldn't be done well--I'm sure there are a handful of fans who could do an excellent, precise, genuine Frodo, just like there are a handful of excellent Star Trek novels--but there's room for a lot of resentment there even if it is done well.

One thing I wanted to do with a webcomic (the character blog/myspace thing is so overdone in that medium) was a forum for character Q&A. People could post whatever questions they had for any character, about their past, something they had done or said in the story, whatever... and they'd stay in character, not revealing any secrets they wanted kept or even rolling their eyes and not answering if they chose. I thought that would be fun.

Daniel Ausema said...

Yeah, that was especially the tongue in cheek part. What it would really need to be legit would be for authors (many authors), or possibly someone assigned and approved by their estate in the case of dead authors, willing to create such a thing for their own characters and spend the time to maintain it in that way.

You could even have a Sim of characters and let others come and ask your Sims question (caveat--I know nothing about Sims except what I've intuited from things others have said, so I have no idea how/if that would work).

Honestly, I think the type of reader something like that is most likely to appeal to is quite different from the type of reader I am. But I could see it working, especially for the more pop-oriented fantasy and SF.

Lion said...

It sounds like silly fun, which I support. If I had a wildly popular fantasy series, I'd be up for it, but that might be because I've grown up with content-saturated internet fandoms. Not everyone is into that kind of overload.

Here's a good example of character blog use in storytelling: there's a character in the online graphic novel Girl Genius whose profession is "Gentleman Adventurer." He hasn't appeared in the story in awhile, so they've given him a Twitter account.

Twitter.com is a blog site that emphasizes brief, two to three line updates of what you're doing at a given moment--perfect for the sort of knight-errant escapades he'd get into off-camera. His Twitter not only keeps tabs on his activities, but also provides additional insight into the breadth of the world they've created without interrupting the main plotline. I think that's a pretty ingenious use of the kind of thing you're talking about.

Daniel Ausema said...

I have actually read the first, ummm, season? book? episode? (it was a while ago) something anyway of Girl Genius--just wanted to let you know, since you're always pimping it :) And I even noticed the other day that the first two print collections of it are in our local library.

Sounds like a good use of additional media. I wonder if webcomics and other graphic-based work is more likely to jump into something like this, since they're already combining more than one medium to begin with.

Lion said...

I think part of it also is that webcomics are almost instantaneous for the creator--they can go from the drawing board to publication in less than a day. This means the viewing public is often more involved in the creative process, via in-progress blog posts by the author/artist and whatever else. So it's natural to break into interactive things.

Aw, you read some Girl Genius! Yay! I appreciate it. Of course, you realize that this just encourages my peer-pressure bullying tactics. :)