Not one, but two people told me at a new years party that they have read my Novella, “To Win, Simply Play.” One person claims to have read the entire thing, and has some interesting comments. “If it were a book I would have put it down.” I noted that it wasn’t a book. This reader added “It wasn’t a book, and I didn’t put it down”
Of course, the reader feedback has yet to stray very far from the usual “it doesn’t follow that what follows, follows” In other words, readers get disoriented.
As if he has some creepy sense of when conversations like these are happening, J. Nathan Matias called me up tonight to talk shop about these kinds of things. He ran some interesting ideas by me for a new non-fictional hypertext. Then, he wanted to know what I’m working on, and I confessed, its still the same old thing. This reader response has made me want to go back to the drawing board.
If the point of the revision would be to throw the reader a lifeline, for making sense out of the whole thing, then its time to come up with some good way to do that.
Brainstorming with Nathan, we both recalled the “Griffin & Sabine” books, where a postcard is presented in each segment of the story, and with the postcard comes some new addition to the story.
Here, a new postcard equals more story, and “next” is only “next” insofar as what is next is associated with the next postcard. Readers can follow this, yet it is hypertextual in a sense.
I think that my hypertext can do more to show the reader how its parts are connected. Nathan and I brainstormed some images that are lying around in the story, waiting to be elaborated into metaphors that aid the links.
To start with, the one thing that each of the characters have in common is that they play poker. It might be possible to arrange the whole story according to the conversations, etc. that occur during one game, and then during the next, and so on.
Speaking of cards, the drawing cards metaphor might be interesting for a reader who is less dependant upon a linear presentation. Draw cards randomly, and see what is associated with each.
The pennies on the wall, each of those already has a story associated with it. It might be an interesting feature of the story to present the reader with a more detailed description of that wall, where the objects on that wall can be elaborated upon however the reader chooses.
Alright, fine, I give in, I’ll make it possible to read the story in some sort of chronological order.