Hypertext Fiction

Hypertext Fiction

Hypertext Fiction is a very cool, unique was of telling a story. With complete freedom, you can create interactive narratives, add music and explore different outcomes, depending on the reader. The reader is an active participant in hypertext, allowing the journey to be non-linear. This can add an interesting and surreal effect to a person’s reading of the text.

Whilst exploring the hypertext website in class, the question asked was ‘would this become a popular new genre?’
It could be possible as most ours lives are run by our addictions to the internet and digital devices. Perhaps this could be the necessary element to encourage reading, albeit in an unconventional way. Already apps are being created for existing literature to aid and improve your reading experience. With this being so successful, it is not far-fetched to assume this may become the norm with publishing.

There are multiple issues with hypertext as a format, especially if you are a fan of traditional reading. This method removes essential character development and distances the reader somewhat. It is hard to become emotionally attached to someone if the the narrative is chopped up into sections, as you decide which button to click on next. This is why I think this genre would be more suited to non-fiction. I found infinite space to be perfect for encyclopaedias of information, simply presented in a different way. In particular, the ’88 Constellations For Wittgenstein’ proves this. Here, there is a wealth of information, displayed on a map, with unlimited clicking – the text is even read to you. It also suits the non-linear themes of hypertext.

It forces us to see stories in a different  way. For example I explored on piece of hypertext fiction where the Star Wars script was displayed on the screen one letter at a time.  We are used to seeing the Star Wars films on the screen with actors giving us nuanced performances which tell us the story; with the reader focussing, it interesting as to whether they would interpret the story differently. Also, this particular piece had carriage-returns, typing sounds and a bell in the background. These sounds effects help us to understand process of typing the script.

The overlapping narratives and detours of hypertext ensure that the reader will always be intrigued but this does not guarantee their enjoyment.

7 thoughts on “Hypertext Fiction

  1. Hypertext fiction is an interesting way of communicating a variety of stories to a wide audience. Due to its vast potential, hypertext fiction is able to be fun, interactive and creative. To the less inventive authors however, the text can be dry and dull.

    The real highlight of hypertext fiction is the sheer range of possibilities, varying from maps and puzzles to the entirety of the Star Wars script in one letter segments.

    Of course, there are negatives to hypertexts fiction. Some of the texts were simply too limited to be explored to an interesting degree, while others simply did not work in their chosen formats.

    The non-linear approach some of the authors undertook was interesting, but at times frustrating. Being able to interact with the same story numerous times in different ways, opens up new elements of story telling. It allows the reader to wonder whether their decision and choices will eventually lead to the same end, whatever they decide.

    Overall, I personally think hypertext is a noteworthy and unique method of digital literature, which works well for specific text. I do not, however, think hypertext is the future of literature and ultimately the classic reading journey is more often than not the best.

  2. I agree with Adele, hypertext fiction can be an interesting and unusual method of digital literature. With so many different ways to create hypertext (such as maps, interactive stories and alternative reading methods), there is something to suit a number of different types of readers. However, the best way to read a book, is to simply read the book.

    Hypertext is an interesting way to continue interacting with a text, and can in it’s own way give you a lot more information than a book can. Maps are especially effective in hypertext as it can help the reader truly visualise where everything is. Although, in many cases, hypertext is not successful, and can more often than not leave the reader feeling confused and frustrated as the story is not communicated in an effective way. By giving the reader options, rather than a linear path the readers may be either overloaded with information or be concerned that their choices will lead to a different conclusion. However, this does mean that somebody is likely to spend a long time exploring all of their options in hypertext fiction.

    Hypertext fiction is an interesting method of digital literature, that is useful to interact with alongside or after reading a text, but is certainly not a replacement for reading.

  3. Much like the majority of comments, I also agree with Adele. Hypertext, if done well, can be an interactive and engaging form of reading. The idea that the reader is experiencing rather than reading off a page is fantastic. It allows the reader to use more senses and choice making to take in a story, such as hearing through audio and selecting left rather than right. I found the most interesting hypertexts were those that involved the reader to take their own various path. It gives the audience a sense that they have a choice in the outcome of the story and this can be really engaging, I think especially for a younger audience.

    However, I found some hypertexts to be rather confusing and in the end the only experience I gained was feeling frustrated that I didn’t understand what was going on. This shows that this form of technological reading needs to be done to a certain level of professionalism to create a smooth and enjoyable experience. I did find with this excellent way of telling a story there came a big downfall; the loss of imagination. Reading something is often exciting because each reader has their own interpretation of how something looks or is. Hypertexts through animation appear more like a game and whilst you can choose the path, it looks how it does on the screen and not in your head.

    I found this ‘experience’ interesting and interactive but I agree with Lauren, it is certainly not a replacement for reading!

  4. I agree with Adele. I think hypertext suits non-fiction rather than fiction, although when done well, hypertext can infuse another dimension that is lacking from the traditional methods of storytelling.

    One example, which caught my attention, was the ‘Red Riding Hood’ digital adaptation. However, once experiencing the adaptation it was hard to follow and a little confusing but I think this is a result of using a familiar text and trying to reinvent it.

    On the other hand, Daisy and I looked at ‘mémoire involuntaire no. 1’ where hypertext was used to explore a poem. I noticed how digitally adapting a poem and adding elements made it fluid, rather than being static on the page. As a poetry lover this was inspiring, in particular where a memory from a child’s perspective is showcased but the words change mirroring the idea that, as time goes on, you recall a memory, but the words you use change and details are forgotten then remembered when retelling.

    This is an amazing way to adapt literature using digital techniques. If you think about most movements, they all begin from an experimental period and I would love to have a go at adapting a literary piece in this way. Although, I don’t think all will like it and I doubt it will be, as Emilie has said, the future of literature.

  5. Hypertext is the ideal way to transform texts into modern literature experiences. Being able to interact more fully with a story is always going to encourage the reader to be more engaged as they experience it, as well as being more likely to absorb more information from the text and, most importantly, remember it. I think that the best Hypertexts involve some sort of problem solving experience with a range of options. The integrity and core of the story must be adhered to, however, by providing a variety of interactions and options, readers are more likely to revisit the text in order to see the changes in experiences.

    Hypertext also doesn’t limit itself to one audience. While the novel it is based on generally dictates the audience it reaches (let’s face it, if you know what a book is about and aren’t interested in it, then you’re not likely to use the hypertext version), you can still expand the audience by either maturing the novel in the way it is told, or using modern graphics and interesting adventures which will attract new readers. I do think, however, that Hypertext needs to be done with precision and expertise from a technological perspective in order to be successful. Modern apps and games offer so much variation and interaction that in order to compete with these and keep readers (especially younger audiences who have grown up using technology) interested, they need to be visually and practically appealing.

  6. I agree with Adele, that hypertext can be an interesting aid to improving a reader’s experience, and that it can work very well with non-fiction.
    I personally found the non-linear format confusing and difficult to navigate, which was quite frustrating. However, I do think that hypertext has the potential to tap into a certain audience and make story-telling a more active, and potentially more enjoyable, experience than it is traditionally. Hypertext reminds me of the ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books, where the reader skips to different pages based on their own choices, and therefore are able to create their own story. I didn’t find an example that did the same sort of thing very effectively; even with the ‘Red Riding Hood’ example the plot was the same regardless of choices the user made. Perhaps this would be an interesting aspect in the development of hypertext fiction.
    Having said this, I believe that products created with hypertext need a high standard of functionality and visuals, as some examples are weak against their other digital competitors. Moreover, the current potential users and audience for these products have grown up in a Hi-definition/cinematic/aesthetic digital world, and would expect similar quality in products and adaptations that they interacted with.

  7. Hypertext is really interesting. I think it works very well through a gaming format, but other ways are good too. I think hypertext acts as an accompaniment to a story though, rather than recreating it. Some people have already mentioned this earlier, but hypertext won’t ever replace the reading experience of a book. It may offer some extra alternatives, and may suit some more than others, but it won’t overcome the classic way of reading a book. Nor do I think it will play a major part in the future of digital literature. Having said this, upon experiencing what hypertext was like, I would definitely use it again, as it was fun and enjoyable, and suitable for almost every audience – hypertext offers something for everyone.

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