The Novel World of Digital Storytelling
Wednesday, May 6, 2009, 4:00 – 5:15 PM
Massachusetts Library Association Annual Conference
Program Description : The digital world is a literary playground. Japanese schoolgirls tap out stories on their cell phones and end up on the bestseller list; blog novels become the new serial fiction; fictional universes cross the boundaries of media and jump from canon to fan fiction; Machinima turns gaming into digital puppetry, and new fictional forms emerge on every social media site including Facebook, Twitter and Flickr, as the digital and literary worlds collide.
Fan fiction isn’t really new — its roots go back to folk literature and the oral tradition. The web has just made it much easier for people to form flourishing participatory communities of interest to share their work.
“Scarcely had Arthur Conan Doyle begun publishing his tales of the deductive detective when an avid fan base sprang up, the first of a new breed of followers. These early Sherlockians weren’t content simply to read the books. They wanted to enter the world Conan Doyle had created, puppeteer his characters, and design their own mysteries for Holmes to solve…They wrote stories. Lots of them.” [Scott Brown]
“Contemporary Web culture is the traditional folk process working at lightning speed on a global scale. The difference is that our core myths now belong to corporations, rather than the folk.” [Henry Jenkins]
- Twilighted — Fan fiction site devoted to the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer.
- FanFiction.net — General fan fiction site for hundreds of different books, movies, television programs and more.
- SVU: “AU. Olivia dies. Elliot cries.” — This is a YouTube FanFiction alternate universe video for Law and Order SVU
From Blog to Book
Blogging can give writers a way to get more experience and attract a following, and may lead to a published book.
- Mom’s Cancer — In 2004, Brian Fies began writing a web comic about his mother’s battle against lung cancer. “Mom’s Cancer” won the 2005 Eisner Award for the Best Digital Comic, and in 2006 the comic was released as a book by Abrams.
- Anonymous Lawyer: From Blog to Book — In 2004, Jeremy Blachman, a third-year Harvard Law School student, began writing a blog in the voice of a senior partner at prestigious law firm. The blog became so popular that it became the basis for Blachman’s first novel.
Extending a Book
Here are a few ways that authors and others are using social networking tools to promote a book or present it in a different way.
- Websites for book characters is a marketing ploy too far — Linda Jones writes about Steffi McBride and other fictional characters on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Samuel Pepys Diary — The famous diary from the 1600s posted as a blog
Brevity is Wit
Twitter, texting and other communications technologies can be used as a creative medium for individual or collaborative work.
- I ♥ Novels: Young women develop a genre for the cellular age — Young Japanese women started writing stories on their cellphones and posting them online, some of which eventually became print bestsellers.
- Six Word Memoirs at Smith Magazine — The basis for the book “”Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure.”
- Six Word Stories — Flickr group for picture stories
- Protagonize — A collaborative writing website, with tools to write “addventures” or branching stories like the old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books
- How to Start a Twitter Novel — Writing a novel 140 characters at a time
- What is Machinima? — A machinima film introducing the basic concepts of making machinima using the variety of settings and resources in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas
- Jabberwocky — A machinima version of Lewis Carroll’s poem made in Second Life
- Depression Memories on Video — My blog post about two projects to capture personal stories of life in the Great Depression : The New Hard Times from the New York Times, and Depression Cooking with Clara on YouTube
“I know only one thing about the technologies that await us in the future: We will find ways to tell stories with them.” — Jason Ohler