I just finished the second and final installment of the app-novella PRY, which I first wrote about a few months ago. Looking back, I mostly still agree with what I wrote in that post. Some additional notes:
- It’s an exciting idea to present different parts of a story in different ways, e.g., give readers more of a lean-back cinema experience when the story calls for it, then make them dig with their hands when the atmosphere changes or a plot point is better illustrated that way. Authors do this already by, for example, modifying their syntax to slow down a reader when it serves; film editors modify rhythm over the course of a scene and an entire film. Doing a more exaggerated version of this with software is a leap, but it’s a leap along a path we have already been following.
- I’m amazed that the word “palimpsest” did not appear in my first post.
- Letting readers cut between different angles of a filmed scene is an engaging middle ground between traditional cinema and virtual reality.
- Since remarking on PRY’s “completion indicators” the first time around, I noticed a very similar feature in another piece of electronic literature, The Truth About Cats & Dogs by Sam Riviere and Joe Dunthorne. I wonder if this will become common practice, or if we will begin to abandon the idea of “finishing” certain types of electronic literature as they begin to adopt the less-bounded character of the web.