Small town noir or Gothic?

Alan Levine offers this microtale of American Gothic, “A Model City“, using the Cowbird digital storytelling service.

Look at how neat the mayor’s house is, with the shiny brick facade and the rows of roses down the path. Out in the shed is a table with a note and a rope tossed over the rafters.


(cross-posted to Infocult)

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Celebrating cliffhangers

Emily Nussbaum sings the praises of cliffhanger narratives, from early film serials to tv soaps.  It’s a celebration of the segmented form (which I touch on in chapters 3+5).

Nice observation on cliffhangers in digital media:

In the digital age, that gap is an accordion: it might be a week or eight months; it may arrive at the end of an episode or as a season finale or in the second before a click on “next.”

(via Jason Mittell)

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Choose your own adventure deaths

One of the key components to a Choose Your Own Adventure book is the series of death pages.  (If you haven’t played/read one, these are pages to which you turn when selecting a seemingly nonlethal choice.)

One helpful blogger has gathered up a bunch of death pages, like

I discuss CYOA books in NDS, chapter 9.

(thanks to Todd Bryant)

(cross-posted to Infocult) 

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Mad Twitter story of the year

Weirdest Twitter story: a madman wrote a fanfiction epic based on Harry and the Hendersons (1987).  It is very odd.

“Hi, I continue the saga of Harry and the Herndersons. Also have head injure.”

[A]fter Harlod leaves the Hendersons—or what’s left of them, in the wake of his rampages—behind, he squares off against an antagonist (the mysterious “Grey Man,” who captures the beast for nefarious purposes) and hooks up with a sprightly gang of benevolent forest creatures, at which point the tale’s tone pivots from nightmare bleakness to guarded optimism.

(thanks to Jesse Walker)

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Twittering Jane Austen

Can we Twitter a novel?  The Jane Austen fan production A Ball at Pemberley (2011) proves it’s doable.  “T]ogether, tens of people from six continents would go on to write a 100,000-word novel!”, they explain.

It reads like so:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that no diversion on earth so delights young people as the prospect of a ball, and a ball at Pemberley, that fine and celebrated house, in the beautiful county of Derbyshire, was a recreation devoutly to be wished!

Janeites used the hashtag #A4T to identify novel bits.

The Darcys were but lately married, and the ball was considered by the neighbourhood as the culmination of the wedding celebrations. Invitations were sent with dispatch, and many a young lady went to bed that night with her head full of happy cares. Many an older lady too, for the groom’s mother-in-law was perfectly convinced the ball was given principally for her gratification.

Volunteers also read the entire thing, available for your listening pleasure.

It’s useful to compare this to the Million Penguins wiki novel (my book, 66ff), which also succeeded quantitatively, but not qualitatively.

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Digital storytelling on the go

Ruben Puentedura shares his presentation materials for a mobile digital storytelling workshop (direct pdf link).  It’s useful and thoughtful stuff, reaching from Five-Card Nancy to film theory.

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Storytelling rules from Pixar

One Pixar artist offers an interesting set of 20 storytelling rules.  They are aimed at fiction, but most can be thoughtfully considered for nonfiction as well.

For example,

#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.


#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

(thanks to Nancy Duarte)

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