When I was a kid, many of our family vacations involved camping. During these trips, late at night (well, shortly after dark anyway) my Dad would crawl into the tent with my brother and I and tell us stories. Random characters doing random things would spill out of Dad’s imagination.
Since then I’ve been fascinated by stories and storytelling. In 2000 I picked up a new book called “e ” that was told entirely in email exchange form. It’s brilliant and fun and took a different take on storytelling but made me start wondering why we’ve not seen much real innovation in digital storytelling.
In mid-March Penguin—along with alternative reality gaming firm Six to Start—launched the We Tell Stories initiative through which consumers can enjoy six digital novels by six different authors over the course of six weeks for free. The first story, which launched March 18, was “The 21 Steps” by renowned thriller author Charles Cumming. “He was the wrong man, in the wrong place, at the wrong time,” the story begins, and readers follow the protagonist’s adventures step by step across the world using Google Maps, with text presented in the technology’s information bubbles at each point along the way.
The second story, “Slice” by Toby Litt, chronicles a teen’s fears about the old house she and her family just moved into. Told over the course of four days, the story invites readers to follow Slice’s story on her own blog as well as that of her parents. Those who want can even email the characters and follow them through text messages on Twitter.
Very cool stuff, and I hope we see more of this kind of story telling.