Another Word on Hyperfiction

I think what I'm talking about should really be termed "Web fiction," because what I'm describing here is a fiction that takes advantage of the Web as it exists and is used today, not simply a fiction that wants to flex the muscles of hypertext.

As Gerry McGovern has said, the hippy-era of the Web is over. People, it turns out aren't thrilled with clicking for clicking sake. Navigating the web is not fun in and of itself. Exploring the limitless linking possibilities of hypertext is engaging only for people who love interacting with a computer screen for its own sake. Those people are few.

The majority of folks on the web come there to get something, and what the web can do is offer them that something in a way that makes it easy for them to select their level of engagement. I keep coming back to the example of online news, but I really believe there must be a fictional equivalent to the format that Slate, Salon, and Washington Post Online have established. The key is "drilling down," the act that allows the reader to select deeper engagement with the content only when he desires it.

The question is what should an online reader be drilling down for in Web fiction. My answer is not narrative, but detail. Just as it does in online news, narrative must stand independent of the act of "drilling down." Instead, what we can offer the reader in "drilling down," "clicking here," or linking is more detail, more context for the narrative.


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