Wednesday, 12 July 2017

The Future of Stories

Contrary to popular belief, physical books are actually doing pretty well right now. The 2015/2016 financial year was the first in a long time that Waterstones made a net profit, largely thanks to the plateau in ebook sales around the same time. It seems that, despite the increase in convenience granted by technologies like the kindle, people still relish the feel of heavy blocks of paper in their hands, the colourful rectangles populating their shelves.

At the very least, people expect a bit more from their tech-influenced storytelling. It's not enough to read words on a screen; we'd much rather have an actor read the words to us, so we can do something else at the same time. It's no coincidence that the fall of ebooks has come alongside the rise of services like Audible and podcasts. In short, technology should be about giving us more options, not replacing a phenomenon as loved as published paper books.

Then there are digital stories. In the final term of my English degree, I spend three hours a week learning about the small but passionate corner of the internet dedicated to creating new ways to tell a story. This corner has been there since the beginning, but has never really broken into the mainstream the way other online communities have. Nevertheless, it is a rich and wonderful place full of interesting people with intriguing stories to tell.

Digital stories are different from ebooks in many ways - for the most part, they are created with no thought of making money, and they are not constrained by the infrastructure of a traditional book. Many contain pictures, animation, video. They give the reader that something more we expect from anything that isn't simply a book.

But where digital stories really take advantage of their form is interactivity. They can engage with the reader on many levels, allowing them to choose how the story progresses, or ask them questions as the story goes on. If you follow the link below, you can play through the story I wrote for my Digital Stories module, and hopefully you'll see what I mean.

Finally, digital stories are incredibly easy to make. Go to, and you'll have access not only to a free story-making program, but also to free community-written guides to get you started. If you fancy having a go at writing, I highly recommend this as a novel way to begin (pardon the pun).

As stories evolve in the digital world, I'd much rather have this interactive, varied, imaginative form, than simply reading a book on a screen that I'd much rather curl up and turn the pages of. I hope to continue writing digital stories, and I'll keep you updated if and when new ones appear. Thanks for your time and attention. (you may need to copy-paste the link)

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