Posts Tagged ‘WRITING’

HYPERTEXT & WRITING: Readerly/Writerly

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

One of the hardest things for me to accept in my writing was to not only give up my work to the reader, but let him decipher it for himself, thus risking complete misunderstanding of “my” story. Beaten into submission by several Creative Writing and Literature courses taught by one harder-headed than I, and faced with the scowling sardonic Roland Barthes as my new theological icon, I reluctantly let the concept of writerly filter into my soul and take it into my heart.

As part of the literary group Fictionaut, I just put up one of my hypertext pieces “Maude Nichols” to share with the membership and boy, I can’t tell you how excited I was to read this comment from writer Finnegan Flawnt:

“Finally, “Maude Nichols” is a wonderful title/name. Harold and Maude, Harvey Nichols…etc. very well done. the habitual “love it” that overcomes me often when i read your stuff seems strangely inappropriate. you somehow let go of this fiction as an author…most fascinating!”

Ohmigod–did you read that? “you somehow let go of this fiction as an author..most fascinating!” (Are you reading this, Steve? Are you believin’ it?)

Hypertext to me has been a major step in the right direction of “letting go” of my work and giving it to the reader to then “rewrite” via his own opinions and experience. For one thing, it appears to give full control to the reader but in truth, the writer must lay out all paths, all the different ways of getting from a)the beginning to c) the end no matter what steps are used to get there. While the writer has limited control (guidance at best) on which particular steps (writing spaces/links) the reader may choose, he will have planned each out carefully so he is in fact writing the same story many different ways; just as a reader will read it differently than another reader, or even than himself in a future reading.

Believe me, you don’t know how difficult it was for this control freak to give up the wheel and allow some reader to risk his own interpretation of my stories. It’s taken years, but I think I’m there now, in a happy place where I can smile as someone takes my words and runs helter skelter with them spilling out all over the hillside. This revelation is extremely exciting to me as a writer. It’s like winning a contest, breaking the ribbon, just plain feeling good.

HYPERTEXT & 100 DAYS PROJECT: Thought Process

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

063009hBecause I’ve put the hypertexts used in the 100 Days Project into my ongoing Hypercompendia weblog, these posts that are the usual are interspersed with the actual pieces but there’s nothing for it since ‘business’ goes on as usual.

The image above is Hypertext Story #40 Evilution 2 and as I’m working with it, I noticed that I had it sort of laid out as you would a garden, peas here where they’ll be over and done and pulled out of the way as the tomatoes take over; yet this “plot” was tilled and marked out before the story was more than a blip of idea.

The story is working itself into the form–which I might blushingly add, is against my theory that I’ve so adamantly expounded.

Weird, eh? Just when you’re thinkin’ you got a handle on it.


Sunday, June 28th, 2009

In answering comments this morning I wanted to share the concept of some hypertext advantages in writing that can be used by the writer to enforce, enhance, demystify the story for the reader.

One is color. In writing for the 100 Days Project, I find I’m selecting color themes for the individual stories based on the mood or tone of the story. For example, using the bold primary colors for #10 Dimensional which is futuristic; using silvery greys for the psychological unreality of #17 Smoke and Mirrors; feminine pinks and mauves for #19 The Perfect Woman.

Another use of color is change of mood or indication of a change of some sort within the story. In one of my favorite pieces because it plays a bit on the Interactive Fiction influence of text games, #30 Dark Moves, the change from the text box from beige to black indicates a time when the lights go off as electricity is lost during a thunderstorm. It’s subtle, but it can be an effective tool.

I’ve used placement of text box as an important clue to the reader that something in the story has shifted: it could be point of view, space or setting, or the space of time, meaning backstory. In the latest piece, #37 Love and War, there are two narrative voices, that of first person in the character of the wife, and a third person pov following the movement of her husband during the same time period. I’ve also taken advantage of the traditional method of change which is italicizing so that even in reading traditional book form, we know there is a change of character or setting–think Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury.

Size of the text boxes are also relevant: the narrow 225-pixel size I’ve been using as asides, or for containing intersecting passages.

These are tools for the writer to use to not only guide or give clues to the reader, but to visually enhance the story.

HYPERTEXT & WRITING: Plotting Trails of Story

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

Still don’t quite have the hang of it, but I do think that I’m gaining some insight into the rather meticulous methods of writing narrative in hypertext just from the short flash-fiction hypertexts in the 100-piece project and in attempting to make hypertext a more enjoyable, less intimidating medium for new readers.

For one thing, the last few pieces have been based on first, a concept; second, a map; third, story (or stories); and fourth, logical intersecting points.

Don’t laugh; that’s not been my usual methods of writing, traditional or otherwise.

In catering to the enthusiastic but tremulous reader, I’ve tried to simplify the linkage, going over it more carefully so that each path can bring a satisfying and not a head-scratching conclusion. In the last piece, #23 Reflection, I’ve made use of four lexias as being ‘traffic cops’ to direct the flow between stories in a manner that doesn’t necessitate too much going back and yet ties them together a lot smoother than what I’ve previously been doing.

I think.

WRITING: Planning with Tinderbox

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Learning for me has always been easiest in the doing. Instructions are held aside and come into play when a need arises that can’t be figured out by clicking buttons, turning screws, guessing, or the real motive of comprehension as to how something would logically work. But I’m also hampered by a stubborn resistance to change.

That said, when I fell in love with Storyspace as a means to write hypertext story, it was a pita to relearn and rewrite into Tinderbox even though the two are very similar in many ways in the processing and theory of linking. Tinderbox offers a world more of capabilities and the visuals of mapping and layout are more open and yet precise in the graphics. I’ve been fiddling around with several projects in Tinderbox, starting from placing a few short hypertext stories into a project space and from there transferring a much larger Storyspace piece into the medium, and progressing to a new project for a longer novel to make use of the research and note-making spaces that would act as an outline or rough plotting structure for the narrative. Even though I don’t know if this is going to in fact be a hypertext work, the concept of having it take shape in a more cohesive manner than pages of scribbled notes (I’ve never been an outline person, except to make the required one for teachers’ purposes after a story or essay was finished) is something that at this stage of my life offers invaluable assistance in saving time alone.

What’s nice about technology and the tools that software offers is that even with manuals and thick text of instructions, a user can always maneuver within the simplest form that suits his own needs, knowing that should more arenas of possibility open up, the field is there.

PROJECTS: Hypertext this and that and the other

Friday, April 10th, 2009

Paths sort of stopped me cold from exporting it not only because of its unsophisticated structure but more because of its poor writing. But I do like the story concept a lot and so I’m going to spend some time on editing that and no doubt, will mess with the links and story hypertextwise as well. In other words, this is going to take some work before I present it properly.

Also looking into The Pigeon and The Shoe which I started last year, inspired by the Pittsburgh trip and Hypertext 2008. That’s got a nice idea behind it as well, all from an hour spent sitting in the park.

But there are other things that draw me too; short stories that may or may not be submitted before the lit mags close for the summer (shall I bother?); and for the first time in ten years, an idea for a novel that needs to be in that form. So there’s plenty to do, just have to get my enthusiasm for writing back into the driver’s seat.


Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Very disappointed to see that not only is hypertext or any other form of new media not represented at the Tunxis Writers Festival this year, but that the public is not being offered the ability to attend this community college function. Odd, at a college that’s ahead of many in stepping over the edge into the New Media field by offering two courses devoted to New Media, and many others such as Digital Animation that apply.

Maybe this all goes back to Dene Grigar’s essay on how hypertext, et al, is presented at the academic level, Electronic Literature, Where is It?, and whether it is a discipline unto itself or if its relationship to Literature, etc. is undeniable.

HYPERTEXT and PROJECTS: Layers that Surround like Members of a Band

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

So glad I agreed to join the 100 Stories Project. Last summer, Steve Ersinghaus and Carianne Mack dedicated their summer break from their usual campus duties at Tunxis Community College to put together an awesome creative collaboration of paintings and poetry as a challenge of one work a day for 100 days. Steve and Carianne are once again planning a project, with stories and visuals, and with the addition of John Timmons on sound and Jim Revillini on drums–no not drums, but the same base, the beat that sets the whole thing to blend in digital presentation. I’ll be expanding on story by offering an interpretation in hypertext.

Steve has already thrown out a few stories in preparation and to get with the idea, I’ve been hypertexting them on a 100 Stories Project Page (Link to the right) here until we have a plan for centralization. Officially the project will begin on May 22nd and run through August. It should be a fun process of learning and exploring creative ideas and interpretations pooled together towards a goal.


Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Hmmm. Winding down  from my soapbox delivery of this morning, an interesting trail of thought develops. For a few years now an artist has been suggesting that we get together and write a children’s book that she would illustrate. We even tossed a few ideas around but my self-centered writer’s heart, not being completely exuberant over writing for kids, just left it on the back burner.

But this might turn up the flame; a hypertext children’s book…