J. C. Hutchins

J.C. Hutchins is a freelance storyteller and new media author whose well-written blog covers interesting developments in new media and offers interesting interviews with other transmedia writers.

Hutchins recently published an article on the possibilities of storytelling on the iPad. The usual suspects are all there—interactive touchscreen moments, use of the iPad’s internal gyroscope, the ability to link to external sources—but the examples Hutchins provides all serve as nothing more than the kinds of interactive illustrations we might see in children’s books. Sure these technologies can illustrate stories well, but we should not be so limited in our approach to new forms of storytelling.

The key opportunity that authors overlook when thinking about new narrative technologies is how these interactions will make the reader feel, and how that emotion relates to the story world. Interactivity (particularly the haptic interactivity allowed by touch screens) can create a deeper connection with the protagonist/avatar than traditional print literature. We shouldn’t be striving for a sense of wonder and marvel at the new technology itself, for that will fade as soon as this type of writing becomes the mainstream. We should instead be trying to use the new technology to access deeper emotions in the reader: frustration, accomplishment, doubt, fear, pride, loyalty, and so forth. Games are already doing this very well. Perhaps it’s time for interactive writing to take a lesson.