(Listening to: “Beds are burning” by Midnight Oil)

I’ve been reading more of Jane Murray’s Hamlet on the Holodeck and came upon a wonderful section about “multiform stories” — those fictions that take readers in multiple directions. Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler is one great example. The film Groundhog’s Day was one of Murray’s highlights.

I looked around for other discussions of “multiform stories” [say, remember when people used to use the word Internet and you could hear them mentally putting quotes around it like it was a strange word? That’s so funny now, I think] and I found the class Jane Murray taught at MIT about cyberfiction. One of the best parts is the Gallery of student work — examples of multiform stories that her students wrote.

I ask myself, is that the kind of writer I’ll be? Will I blossom with hyperlinks and all the hide-and-go-seek options of writing with code? But I think of hyperlinks in a completely different way than the narrative examples used by Murray. Her multiform stories all link back on themselves and refer to different structures of their own plots. When I think of hyperlinks, I think of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land and all those little allusions and references he made throughout the poem to — you name it. I think of Spenser’s The Faerie Queene with all the nods to Virgil, Ovid, the Bible.

If I used hypertext for my fiction, I would want it to be a trail of breadcrumbs for the reader… or, better yet, a treasure map to all the other writers who have come before me, to whom I could introduce my reader as though my story were simply the afternoon tea meant for us all to get to know each other.

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