I’m in the middle of writing a hypertext novel – I think I’ve told you about it. And at the time, I told you that I was chewing over the programmatic difficulties just to get out of doing the writing, because I’m the most procrastinating monkey ever. But, as often happens, by letting the problem stew in the back of my mind, I’ve made some decisions.
First, the whole point of this hypertext novel is to invite the reader to take a more active role in the text. There are decisions to make – whose point of view do you want to read? Is there a location that interests you? So, I realize that I need to write both a list of the dramatis personae and the settings.
The first thing that a reader will see is an interface introducing them to the players and asking them who they want to hear from. Alternatively, they could pick any of the three settings and say that they’d like to hear the entire story in that setting. If that’s the mode they choose, they will be directed to the character with the earliest entry in that node. When you’re in a page, it should have some kind of background image that tells you which character you’re seeing – perhaps a light wash of color and a graphic. There will be a next button and a previous button. The next button will take you to the next node in the timeline of the current character, the previous button will take you to the previous node for that character, even if the node you came from was a different character. Along the bottom will be icons for any other available characters for that node. Along the top will be icons for the other settings, and when you mouse over the icon, it’ll give you the choice of any characters with nodes at that point in the timeline.
I get that this post is about as exciting as a detailed description of my breakfast oatmeal, but trust me on this one. Anyone reading this: this is something brand new and cool that we’re inventing here. When it’s done, it’ll be revolutionary. The important thing is this: the next TechRaising event is in May, and I’m hoping to pitch this project to a team who will, in one weekend, create the UI. Are you ready? I’m totally ready.
Will there be a way to request the chronologically earliest node, then easily go in order of the timeline, scooping up all the available characters and settings at a time-point and then going on to the next time-point? Or is that a path you want to discourage, because it’s too traditional / disjointed / unrewarding / some other reason?
Let’s say that you start with Penton, who is the progenitor of all the action and therefore the earliest node. He is standing in a room with Professor Northblight, his boss, when the inciting event happens.
From that first screen, you will have a “Next” button that will take you to the next scene with Penton. At the bottom of the screen, there will be an icon for Professor Northblight. If you click it, you will get the exact same scene from Northblight’s point of view. If you click “Next” from that screen, you will get the next scene from Northblight’s point of view.
At the top, there will be icons representing other places in the story where there is action happening at the same time. Time is the same for all characters, although since the characters are in very different parts of the world, for one set of characters it might be morning and for one it might be evening – just like it works in this world. That means that there will be times when there is action in one place but not in another because in the other place, the characters are asleep.
There are six point of view characters in three countries, so in any screen, along the bottom there will be all the available point of view characters for that scene, so it WILL be possible to see every available character at every point in time in every single place.
The whole point is that I don’t want to discourage anything. I want to ENcourage packaging and re-packaging the story any way that people want to, making it as big or small as you want. I want people to be able to read it over and over and over again and be able to have the story be different every time. I want you to be able to follow the entire story from the point of view of one person, or to read all the stories that happen in a single location, or to read each scene from a different point of view – whatever strikes your fancy.
Very cool! I like the “as big or small as you want” aspect. And that there are time zones.
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