Thursday, March 22, 2007

56,190 Words

This has been sitting in Wordpad for a couple of days, waiting for me to get back online.

I've been reading about hyperfiction; its proponents apparently believe that readers are oppressed by the traditional beginning-middle-end structure of the novel and would prefer to navigate our own way through the story, altering the line of the narrative and perhaps even switching between alternative universes (presumably the result of making some different choice at any particular crossroads in the plot) and changing the 'main voice' of the story or its narrator. It occurs to me that the author of the essay (Susan Sontag), who disliked the idea of the hypernovel and did not believe it would catch on, has missed a glaringly obvious point: the hypernovel exists - in fact I would go so far as to call it ubiquitous - and may be found on every playstation and x-box in the world. They hypernovel has snuck up on us literary types, unawares, and any who would dismiss modern computer games as having no real story have obviously never tried them. I, personally, am not a great fan of these infinte wasters of time and mental capacity but I do appreciate their cleverness.

For me, it has to be the traditional novel structure, for now at least, although I have been seriously considering doing a Scooby-Doo ending. There are precedents in literature: A Portrait of a Lady, The Story of O, and others. I think they are a class above the cliffhanger ending, in that you are left with two or more distinct possibilities for the conclusion of the tale, rather than being left with nothing. The author may even be pointing you firmly in one particular direction but he at least leaves open the possibility that Isabelle might just change her mind - and you can believe that she did, if it makes you feel better.


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