Digital Fiction: examples and ideas for the classroom

Digital Fiction?  What on earth is it?  After a short search I have managed to find some with thanks to Penguin.

Penguin have commissioned six stories that are inspired by classic titles but are written for the digital world.  Each story is written in a different way and are fascinating being as much about design as about writing.  Several of them also provide great models for developing digital fiction in the classroom.  Not all are suitable for sharing in the classroom but I hope you enjoy the reading experience as much as I did.

The most accessible story for me was  Slice  by Toby Litt.  It is told through two blogs, Slice and her parents.  This tells the story of a haunted house (or is it?), each blog giving a different character’s viewpoint.  Readers have joined in the story through the comments boxes and on twitter.  I love this!

In  21 Steps,  a thriller by Charles Cumming, the reader can track the journey as the story is shown through Google Maps.  I found I had to close down the text and then reopen it to be able to move on and follow the pathway.

The Fairy Tale is a wonderful example giving readers a choice in how the story is constructed.  As you read through you are asked to give names for the characters, choose characters and traits and finally the ending.  Although this is probably too difficult to replicate in the classroom (only because I don’t know how to but somebody out there please suggest a way), it does however make a for a rich reading experience.

The (Former) General in His Labyrinth by Moshin Hamid is a ‘choose your own direction’ story with a couple of choices for each section. 

Although the pages in Hard Times by Matt Mason and Nicholas Felton can be turned in a linear fashion, it took me a while to sort out how to read each page.  It is interesting to consider why the little nuggets of information are displayed in this way.  A great example of form matching content.

And finally Your Place and Mine by Nicci French was constructed live on the web over a series of five one hour sessions.  Although this story is not suitable for sharing in the classroom it does make me wonder if this type of digital story could be duplicated in the classroom using the record feature on a SMART interactive board.  Over a series of shared writing sessions you could film what you write on the board and what you say and store these digitally for the children to refer to.

Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed these reading experiences, what I didn’t get was the comfort of curling up with a compelling book.  I need to engage more deeply with the reading of these digital texts, go back to the original classic and then reread the digital text again.  I found the length of the text irritating.  It was too short and then I had to click on something and with my slow computer then had to wait.  I am also not a fan of short stories and I think that may also have some impact on how I perceive these stories.  So, I am off to read The Thirty Nine Steps by John Buchan and then I will read 21 Steps again and see what effect reading the two together has.

 Let me know what you think about these digital stories.

7 thoughts on “Digital Fiction: examples and ideas for the classroom

    • I think I would find it really hard to study from a digital text although I am sure that not everyone would feel the same way.

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