A New Way of Old Storytelling

May 17, 2012

The Boston Globe recently published an article that should make the publishing industry feel good about itself, “Why Fiction is Good for You.”  Its thesis is that stories act as a kind of societal glue by teaching us to empathize with our fellow man.  If we can recognize a bit of ourselves in our compatriots, then that’s good for society.  Is it any wonder, then, that Middle Eastern societies who discourage reading anything other than the Koran are such shit holes?  There’s nothing wrong with holding a religious text near to your heart, but even Jesus said man does not live on bread alone.  (And yes, the moral of this observation is that the world should buy more Matthew Warner novels.)

But the glass is half full for us prose fiction writers who dream of seeing our names on library shelves.  A week after the Globe article, Slate magazine wrote that paper books will pretty much become a thing of the past except for those printed for the collector market or when the physical presentation of the printed book is intrinsic to its content.

There’s more to this story, however, than the conclusion that eBooks are the future.  A couple years ago, I worried on this blog about whether the art of fiction was on the decline and whether prose fiction would become obsolete.  The Globe and Slate articles seem to answer those questions with “no” and “maybe,” respectively.

Which brings us back to the cogent question, at least for a working writer like me: what is the next big thing, and how can I catch the wave?

In my previous blog entries, I concluded that storytelling would become more of an interactive experience on par with the old Choose Your Own Adventure books, and that video games were the answer.  To that list I add another form, the interactive movie.  My friends at Darkstone Entertainment have been experimenting with it in their Spade series, which you can watch for free online.  (Notice the cool website header, in which I flexed my fledgling artistic powers.)  They’re continuing the Choose Your Own format on a new pay-for-view website called Flicksphere.  The movie I helped to write, Dr. Ella Mental’s Mad Lab Picture Show, is scheduled to go up in mid June.

Is the interactive movie the newest incarnation of an old art?  In the spirit of interactivity, why don’t you tell me what you think?