Here are a few quotes from an excited article about blog fiction:
The weblog has justifiably been celebrated as a new publishing platform. But writers are beginning to see that it also has the potential to be a new fictional form.
Now, the blog breathlessly referenced in the article had two things going for it. First, the blog’s author was a mystery at the time, giving people something to speculate about. Second, the blog was about sex, giving people something to salivate about. Put the two together in any medium and you’ve got enough juice to get yourself on Oprah, so it’s not surprising that it caught this writer’s attention.
Still, the article stayed admirably on point:
In other words, blogs aren’t just about factual journalism. They’re about fictional narrative, too. Writers have always used the net to distribute novels and poems that could appear in print. But there’s a tradition of experimenting with online forms such as email and chatrooms to tell stories that could only work online. Writers are taking this further by working with blogs. Indeed, with their short daily entries, reader feedback and links to the net, blogs seem purpose-built for creating episodic stories.
And then this, which seems to me very smart, (and very frustrating in that the link is dead):
Jill Walker, a specialist in interactive and online narrative, based at the University of Bergen in Norway http://huminf.uib.no/~jill, says many writers see blogs as a natural way to update/extend the traditional fictional diary (eg Bridget Jones’s Diary). “But what’s genuinely new about blog fictions is their use of the network.” Most blog fictions haven’t really used the net yet, she continues. “Imagine a fictional blogger who left comments in other people’s blogs, chatted with people, and responded to reader comments as the story unfolded.”
(Happily, however, because we live in an interconnected web of information, I was able to find Jill here, with one simple search. And she was the top hit, so I know I’m onto something….)
The rest of the article details various attempts at blog fiction, and it’s worth a read both for its historical value and the fact that some of the works cited are still in existence (and still updating). Some good points are raised, too, including the craft problem of presenting a story to an audience that may not always check in when a new post goes live.
Although all serialized content faces this problem — including network television — it’s not a trivial issue. Do you constantly remind viewers what happened last week, thus punishing viewers who took the time to tune in, or do you simply move on and assume that anyone who is confused will ask someone what happened or look up the episode online? (This problem of audience inattention and authorial responsibility is even showing up in half-hour shows, where the producers know that the audience may have wandered away or just dropped in during the preceding commercial break. Back in the day, shows used to pick up where they left off; now, you often get a recap of what just happened in the previous six-minute segment. And if I may editorialize for a moment: it’s tedious as hell.)
What’s perhaps most interesting about the entire piece, however, is the publication date: Thursday 8 April 2004. That’s over five years ago, and I’m not sure a lot has changed in that time. Which gives added emphasis to this quote, at the end:
The personal diary seems to work well in blog form at the moment, says Paul Ford. “But I don’t think we have any way of knowing, just yet, what other sorts of stories are going to work. It’s still too new.”
Is it still too new? Or did it get old in the Twitterim?
— Mark Barrett