Sunday, September 2, 2012

Interactive Fiction: It's More Than Reading


I'm sure most of you have heard of J.K. Rowling's new website, Pottermore, and her ventures into "interactive reading."  Of course I had to sign up and see what it's all about. Right now it's still in beta, but it looks like fun.  It has extra tidbits related to each chapter of the books. The graphics are top notch and the navigation is interesting--not typical but also not hard to figure out.  Right now there is only a few things up, so I can't wait to see more. The most interesting part for me is where J.K. shares insights into the characters, place names, wizarding games, etc.  It's always interesting to see how an author comes up with ideas.  I'm sure I will soon be addicted to everything Pottermore.

Children's book publishers have long been providing an interactive element.  For example, as long as I can remember, one could purchase a favorite story and insert your child's name. After some research I learned one of the first books in this format was released 40 year's ago. Packard's work was so complex there were approximately 40 different possible endings!  Once Packard convinced a large publisher, Bantam, to take them on they written by him and R.A. Montgomery. 


Now, there is a type of choose-your-own-ending book being offered for adult mystery romance readers. The concept reminds me of playing clue, but in this instance you help decide who did what and persuade the author to provide the next installment with your feedback.

 Fellow Rose City Romance author, Tawna Fenske, is engaging in a type of choose-your-own-adventure serial. Only in this, she writes the book to a certain point and then asks her readers to make choices. Getting Dumped Part 1 and Part 2, were released in June.

These two parts make up the first two installments of an Active Fiction series from Coliloquy. In Part 1, Tawna let readers guide some of the choices made by her heroine. She reviewed the aggregate statistics from Part 1 and then incorporated them into Part 2. When Part 2 begins the reader's now learn who's brandishing the pistol and follow along as the girls' sleuthing kicks into high gear. Next the readers need to let Tawna know who they think JJ can trust to help, and who's hiding sinister secrets.

I have to admit, this is pretty intriguing and, I suspect, challenging (fun?) for Tawna. Between twitter, GoodReads, Shelfari, and now suggesting to the author how a story should progress, reading is getting to be so much more than a solitary adventure these days.

I'm not sure how I feel about this possibility.  I'm one of those people who tends to read a book in one sitting. Once I get invested in the characters I want to see them get through their challenges and know where they end up.  I don't know if I would have the patience to wait for the next installment. On the other hand, it's pretty cool to think your ideas would influence the story.  You could read the next installment and say to yourself, "I told her to do that and she did!"

How do you feel about these changes? Do you like the idea of participating in how the story unfolds? Or do you prefer to have the whole book done and ready for you to immerse yourself from beginning to end?

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