Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A new form of narrative: the Overdrive experiment

Some time ago, two concerns converged to create what I call "the Overdrive experiment." One, I realized that more of my students were reading on smart phones and tablets and that these electronic screens did not like the text density of a Henry James for easy reading. Two, the great ignored storytellers of our time are screenwriters, writing tens of thousands of stories a year that never reach an audience because their only outlet is the movie screen. What if their were another way for these stories to reach an audience?

When I remembered that the contemporary screenplay was based on a "vertical writing style" peculiar to screenwriters, the eye moving down the page moreso than across the page, a minimalist style in which story trumps rhetoric, I realized that here was the basis of a storytelling form perfectly suited to reading on small electronic devices.

Stories in Overdrive was born.

Here, then, are ten examples of the new narrative form, a fast-paced novella based on the screenplay -- in this case, on my own unproduced screenplays.

The "experiment" has been going on long enough now for me to reach a conclusion: it is an aesthetic success and a commercial disappointment. Most of my work turns out this way. With proper marketing, however, these quick reads surely can reach the large audience waiting for them. Enough have expressed their delight for me to believe this. It's not a form for everyone, of course, but there is a large body of readers ready for this.

I hereby pass the torch, so to speak, and hope that a younger, more energetic writer, probably a screenwriter, continues the experiment and proves that Stories In Overdrive are a natural form for a digital world.

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