Addiction to Digital Fiction

My presentation focuses on the world of new media and digital fiction. For the purpose of this presentation, I read Marie – Laure Ryan’s article, “Fictional worlds in the Digital age – Chapter 13 in A Companion to Digital Literary Studies.

Question : What is Digital Fiction?

Answer: In recent years people have been unable to come up with a satisfying term to describe the purpose of fiction that has emerged with digital technology.

The presentation of fiction, both digitally and traditionally, is a piece of work in which written prose proves to be an essential part. In this case, digital literature includes all writing that is read from a screen. As we read from the screen of an iPad, e-reader or Smartphone we are reminded that however we receive it fiction is a product of our own imagination, the book is merely a souvenir of the experience of having read the text.

There are many different types of digital fiction which includes Flash, Instant Message Fiction, Flickr, micro and Fan Fiction as well as wiki novels and cross fiction narratives , which explores multi genres of fiction.

Micro Fiction

This form of fiction has seen a revival on the micro social networking site, Twitter. Many authors use Twitter to share their work, and while long stories and occasionally novels have been shared one tweet at a time, therefore it was embraced by writers, regardless of the one hundred and forty character limit, which proved to be a wonderful new vehicle for storytelling. While storytelling is restricted with regards to micro-fiction, it is possible to be done and completed; also it acts as a great learning device in making every word count. Such a short piece of fiction requires the reader to imagine and contemplate “what happens next”. It also allows the reader to make their own assumptions and conclusions of the story.

As readers in the digital age , we have witnessed a shift that focuses less on linguistics or words and more on semiotics , symbols and pictures , which have become evident in everyday life , but also in valued forms of literature. Digital fiction integrates the visual, verbal and acoustic semiotic resources to construct meaning and comprehension amongst its readers.

Inanimate Alice

Inanimate Alice is an interactive fiction also known as a “born-digital novel”, recounting the experiences of Alice and her imaginary friend, Brad. The series was written and directed by Kate Pullinger along with digital artist, Chris Joseph and was created from an innovative concept. The first episode was published in late 2005. The viewer experiences a combination of text, sound and imagery. The concept also allows the reader to interact at key points in the story.  Inanimate Alice has been used as an exemplar of a digital literacy resource and integrated into the curriculum’s in the United States of America and Australia.

Fanfiction

Fanfiction is considered to be a community of fans of the original book /movie/TV series who write their own stories about characters or places rather than by the original author or creator. Compared to conventional print publications, the internet offers its user interactivity by giving the opportunity to give and receive instant feedback or reviews. With regards to the Fanfiction website, this option is proposed to create a connection between the reader and the writer.

Prior to the digital age, novels such as Robinson Crusoe, Alice in Wonderland and Sherlock Holmes inspired numerous imitations. In the early days of science-fiction television series, such as Star Trek fans would exchange plot suggestions through photocopied publications known as Zines. The 1990’s saw a revival of Fanfiction in the form of stories depicting characters of television series such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Xena: Warrior Princess.

However, with the popularity of books such as Harry Potter, The Hunger games, Lord of the Rings, Percy Jackson and the Twilight saga, which are normally considered to be children’s and young adult fiction, a new phenomenon emerged where fans of the novels began writing and developing relationships between characters that differed from the original work by the author. An example of which would be  J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter developing a romantic relationship with school rival and enemy, Draco Malfoy.

In the last few years, several well-known authors encouraged fans to write their own Fanfiction stories, most notably  J.K Rowling said she was “thrilled” that people wanted to keep her characters alive in new adventures. The Fifty shades trilogy was developed from a Twilight Fanfiction initially titled Master of the Universe and was published episodically on fan-fiction websites under a pen name.

Immersion

In her article, Marie-Laure Ryan, suggests that we as readers begin to love in the world of the text, which she says ” immersion remains the most fundamental of literary pleasures”.  However, with the rise of digital media some readers have become so overly fixated on their favourite fictional characters, heroes and worlds that it soon boarders on obsessive and unrealistic.

Goodbye Book , Hello Nook

The increasing popularity of e-readers, such as the kindle, which allows the user to immediately order and download a book with a few simple clicks has overshadowed book sales. Also the e-reader offers its reader the flexibility to read what they want, where they want and when they want. Due to the rise of the digital book, current book trends depict a slump in sales as vampire novels begin to fade away. However, people are more likely to read classics such as Pride and Prejudice or The Catcher in the Rye in the physical form of book rather than the eBook version. Ironically, Fifty Shades of Grey started life as an eBook before becoming a physical book.

From my research, I have come to the conclusion that it is inevitable that the demise of the old reliable paperback book is nigh. However, it is our choice as readers to protect the book from becoming a rare forgotten object. Something that is also undeniable is the fact that classic novels will stand the test of time as paper books.

Please find attached link to Prezi presentation of : Exploring Digital Fiction

Works Cited

Ryan , Marie-Laure. “Fictional Worlds in the Digital Age”. A Companion to Digital Literary Studies, ed. Susan Schreibman and Ray Siemens. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008.

Pullinger, K. and Joseph, C.  www.inanimatealice.com.  Feb 2013.

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