Do you remember the Choose Your Own Adventure book series? If you're older than 22, then you probably do, and you probably miss it (or, still read it, I guess, if you're of a certain disposition). If you're younger than 22 and are keen to learn then let me lay it down for you: Essentially, as the reader of a CYOA book, you are also the story's protagonist who can, at the end of each section, choose from a range of options the actions you would like to take to move the plot forward.
There's a mummy headed toward you.
If you want to fight the mummy, turn to page 17. If you want to run screaming like a baby, turn to page 130. If you want to sacrifice your tour guide, turn to page 89. Sometimes your choices could lead to success, other times to death. They really were––and still are, I guess––a funtastic time.
In these here times of the internets those sorts of fun novelty books are long gone though...bummer.
Or ARE they?
Evidentally, the CYOA books are now understood to have originated a branch of storytelling called hypertext fiction, now often referred to as simply hyperfiction. (The books predated the term by about 11 years. The idea was well ahead of its time.) The premise of hyperfiction is that the story can be read in a variety of different lineations which are made possible by the interaction of the reader with various hyperlinks to other storytelling arenas such as websites, photos, blogs, videos, etc.
I've heard about a recent YA novel doing this, although I can't recall the title right now (if you know what it is, then please mention it in the comments section). I don't think that the particular example I'm thinking of involved links to other plot-driving segments, but rather lead to references explaining more actual history behind parts of the story, which I personally believe to be an excellent use of interactive resources when it comes to children's literature.
Although there are numerous websites out there with links to different hyperfiction stories, the only one I have personal experience with is The Dionaea House, which I learned of through a Reddit thread in which a redditor asked, "What's the scariest, weirdest, most mysterious web site you ever visited?" The Dionaea House website was the first one listed. It took me an hour or so to read through (what I think was) everything. What I find so amazing about this particular story is that if you don't come to it knowing that it's fiction, it could take a little while to get what's happening. It's brilliant, and probably similar to what House of Leaves might have looked like if it were hyperfiction, although that book is really quite interactive already.
With the growing popularity of ebooks, why aren't more publishers incorporating this type of storytelling into their list?
This concept is really new to me, as I initially just wanted to write about this crazy website I found and in researching it discovered a new (to me) type of storytelling that is older than I am. Now, my mind is reeling with possibilities and questions. If you have any thoughts, or want to share any of your top secret favorite hyperfiction with me, please spill the beans in the comments section!
Here's an old article about why hyperfiction didn't catch on.
And here are some examples of why hyperfiction might tip the Coolness scale at Horribly Lame:
Who knows, maybe The Dionaea House is the best example of recent hyperfiction. Although this propsect is kind of a bummer. Still, I did find one blog post (from just last year) claiming that "hyperfiction is still in its infancy," so maybe there's hope.
Courtney Algeo is surprised by a great many things.