Thinking further about hypertext stories, I am reminded of Choose Your Own Adventure books and Adventure/Zork games. There is a rich community of active creators of text-based adventure games.

Somehow, that wasn't what I'd had in mind. I still feel like I want to do story-telling rather than story-gaming. While I want to be intimate with my reader, I am not yet ready to surrender control of my story to him. And to do so half-assed, holding back and being insincere, would be as unfulfilling as saying "I love you" just to get the sex.

For nostalgia's sake, I recently picked up a Choose Your Own Adventure book, in which you rescue some enslaved troll-creatures. At one point, you have the option of going back to rescue them, or forsaking them and grabbing the gold. I was surprised that I'd actually be granted that choice, so I took the second path. ...Which tells me I make a grab for the gold and am then overwhelmed with guilt and turn back to help the little creatures, now go turn to the page you were supposed to have picked in the first place. Reminded me of my first boyfriend.

So what have I realized about myself?

  1. I want to tell a story.

  2. I don't want to give a false sense of collaboration or interactivity.

  3. It shouldn't be sequential, where the links are nothing more than "Click here to go to page 2."

  4. Nor should the links be simply expository short-cuts, at least for real-world items. Ah! Here's an epiphane (had right here, on the fly): When we talk, and especially when we talk with ourselves in our own heads, we multi-task. One concept has a whole collection of emotions and memories contained within it. The very way we speak is an emotional shorthand, done mostly out of necessity. When I'm talking with my best friend, I don't have to enumerate all the roiling emotions a person creates within me; I can simply say, "He reminds me of Doug." The reader hasn't been my best friend for ...yeegads, 11 years? Anyway, the reader doesn't have my emotional backstory, nor does he have the background of my characters. If I'm not careful, neither do I. But with a link and a frame! Ah, magnificent. I can provide the mood that floods through my character when she talks about her childhood sweetheart, without interrupting the reader's present for a whole lot of flashback. Less confusion, and conversations in the story become more real-time. And, with the understanding that that frame over there is the Flashback Frame, the words, colors, and images(!!) there can be much more like thought, and much less like exposition.



Well, that was productive. Thank you for your time. I've got work to do...

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