What Will It Take for Readers to Enjoy Hypertext Fiction More?

And off we go with my little blog … which will be about hypertext fiction and novels in stories / linked short stories.

No so much recommendations, as considerations about what these forms are and how I am developing my own unique take here on Shade of the Morning Sun.

If you dropped by and want some definitions of these forms, do check out my FAQ. You can get an overview of the basics there. 🙂

Anyway, let’s get right into the fray and start this blog with some still ongoing hypertext fiction challenges, shall we? Below is a summary of the main conclusions from a 2010 dissertation about why people don’t like hypertext fiction. They are almost certainly still very relevant:

• Readers are not averse to hypertext fiction but prefer text-only works.

• Readers found the multimedia and gaming elements distracting and felt they
prevented absorption and use of their imagination.

• To be enjoyable multimedia and gaming elements must be seamlessly integrated
into the reading, easy to use/control and, if possible, should be optional.

• Readers want more control than hypertext fiction gives, particularly with regard to
pace, interaction, reading time, multimedia and gaming.

• Readers found embedded links distracting and irrelevant links disorientating.

• Readers require bookmarking facilities and some indication of the length of the

• Hypertext fiction’s failure to meet reader expectations with regard to their
experiences with other media led to frustration and disappointment.

• Interface usability and visual design are important to users, especially when they are

– from “A Step Towards Reader Acceptance of Hypertext Fiction: From Annoying Distraction
to Enjoyable Experience” by Michelle Beatty

Read the rest here.

This is not the first study I read with similar conclusions, and it makes me think I definitely shouldn’t experiment much more than I already do with the hypertext properties of Shade of the Morning Sun. Most of the stories can be read fairly conventionally and usually don’t contain more than a few links that offer you to explore some background or a related story.

Also, multimedia is kept to a minimum. I have really only inserted videos in two stories or so, and I did that because they both dealt with topical pop-cultural references, e.g. what was on the hitlist and in the cinemas at the time. For example, I did it in the little story “Clear Horizon” where there is a thematic relationship between the horror scifi schlock movie that Carrie and Lin have watched in the cinema and then their own relationship.

If there is one thing I want to find out, it is how to use the qualities of hypertext to enhance the reading experience for most people, who may be used to reading the traditional book or ebook.

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