Bank Street Arts, Sheffield, UK, from 22 Oct to 14 Nov 2014
‘The Future of Reading?’ exhibition shows how recent forms of experimental writing use digital technologies to enable new ways of reading, which complement and sometimes challenge more established media like books, films, and videogames. It includes Interactive Fictions (IFs) and electronic text adventure games, hypertext and hypermedia fictions, Flash and App-based fictions, kinetic poetry, and literary videogames.
Also, earlier this week, as part of the Reading Digital Fiction project, I was delighted and honoured to give a Creative Writing Master Class in digital fiction for the MA in Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University.
What are playable stories and how to start writing them
Computers and the internet have given birth to a new literary genre – Electronic Literature, or E-Lit for short. The genre covers a wide range of forms, from digital poetry to literary games and playable stories. The one thing all E-Lit works have in common is that they’re created on a computer and meant to be read using a computer or mobile device. Many are freely accessible to read or play on the internet. In this workshop, we’ll look at some examples of e-lit, playable stories that I’ve created, and how you might go about starting to write your own.
Want to start writing your own digital stories or poems?
Here are some suggestions of web apps and writing tools you might want to try:
Prezi – a powerful zooming presentation tool that you can use online, on your desktop or on your iPad/iPhone. Böhmische Dörfer is a very moving example of what can be achieved, created (in English) by Alexandra Saemer:
“Böhmische Dörfer” is a piece, created in Prezi, about the impossibility of reconstructing the failing memory of a traumatic historical event : the “March of Death” of the Sudeten Germans from Brno in winter 1945.
Storynexus – a platform for exploring interactive story worlds and writing and creating your own.
Scratch – a platform for programming your own interactive stories, games and animations.
Webmaker – “a global community that creates the web by making, teaching and remixing” – an open source project from Mozilla.
Varytale – a publishing and writing platform for interactive books.
Useful tools for writers and digital writers alike:
Scrivener – a “complete writing studio”, it has just about everything you need for researching, writing, structuring and revising your projects.
Scapple – a freeform text editor, similar to a mind-mapping tool.
Evernote – a powerful notetaking, web clipping, scrap-booking that helps you “remember everything”.
Founded in 1996, The New River is a biannual journal devoted exclusively to digital writing and art. I’m delighted that the Spring 2012 issue, just published, includes Rememori, my “game that is an experience in lyrical prose,” which New River also describes as:
An eerie twist to a child’s matching game puts the reader in the minds and hearts of both the Alzheimer’s patient and his fading loved ones.
The four works in this issue “were chosen for their duality” and in her note from the editor, Khalilah Boone goes on to say:
Developed to entertain and make the reader think deeply, the creative works we’re presenting invite the reader to ponder the origins of scholarship, question definitions of human identity, reflect upon who we are as patients or relatives of the ill, and carefully ruminate on the nature of our cultural belonging.
The other works are by Eric Lemay, F.J Bergman and Nanette Wylde.
The new “explosive” issue of Mad Hatters’ Review is a wonderful and fitting tribute to its late founding editor, Carol Novack. This issue of the annual online multimedia magazine is bursting with marvellous “poetry, fiction, art, multimedia and genre-benders” from around 100 international contributors and I’m delighted to say that my work, Out of Touch, features in the multimedia section.
In an Arts & Entertainments feature in The Independent, Lisa Gee “explores the unbound possibilities of digital-era fiction” and announces the shortlist for the 2011 New Media Writing Prize. She asked a number of people working in digital writing and/or publishing to nominate their favourite works of digital literature and I’m delighted to say that Tim Wright and Jim Pope both recommended Underbelly, and Sue Thomas picked Fitting the Pattern. Here’s what they had to say in the accompanying video:
Tim Wright, digital writer/consultant, on Underbelly :
It’s a really interesting use of interactivity, Flash animation, amazing sound and it’s a story about women miners but then also a thought piece about bearing children and motherhood and balancing work and home.
Dr James Pope, academic & judge/co-founder, New Media Writing Prize, on Underbelly :
I still maybe think it’s the best piece I’ve seen in terms of emotional connection to a piece of interactive work.