Fun da mentals : Rhetorical Devices for Electronic Literature

Structure, a stub


Experiment: On Your Own
Exchange: Share Your Creations

Student works {None yet} Share your work


Structures are one way to let readers know how large the work is. (Navigation methods can also show each node, therefore letting readers gauge the work.)

Structure as a navigation device. Ferris Wheels

Chris Klimas" <> Hi,, so I don't have much advice
to offer on that front. One topic I think would be useful to add,
though, would be the overarching structure of elit. The eternal
question "How do you know you're done reading?" might be one way to
approach it -- discussing works with one definite ending, several
different ones, or even pieces that loop back on each other.

spatial hypertext presents not only the text of the work to the reader but also its structure. click on We Descend box J. Nathan Matias


When I think about creating a work, I usually create the structure that will best convey the meaning that I want. For example, I wanted a very formal encounter with an incomprehensible lover/firefly/stranger/death/. So I elaborated on Raymond Queneau's Cent mille milliards de poèmes in Firefly, where I have 6 stanzas with 5 lines (for 180 degrees of separation between the two main characters/life and death/insect and human/alien and familiar). This cycle shows that even if we approach the matter of mutual incomprehensibility from other angles, we are no closer to breaching the wall of alienness between lovers/life and death/human and nonhuman/me and you). I have not really calculated out how many billions of poems are possible from this, but it is probably along the magnitude of Queneau's, as each line has 6 possible lines.{Warning}

Or I stumble upon a structure and ask what meaning it wants. For example, I am fascinated by ideographs (kanjis) and the idea that the image itself conveys the meaning of the word. So I created a few of what I call "kanji-kus," which extrapolate the meaning of the kanji. For example, Children's Time shows the character for child as a brightly colored, running child, arms outstretched, ready to slide and laugh.


Hypertext allows me to tell stories multipuntally as well, and explain who I am a bit to others. I was legally blind (lasik is a miracle!) until I was about 35. Because I did not see faces when I was growing up, I do not recognize emotions on people's faces. I also do not recognize people (the fancy word is prosopagnosia). Yet I have been forced to function in a world where people actually recognize other people in a matter of nanoseconds. (It takes me a lot longer, usually about the time the conversation is done I will have amassed enough clues to figure out who you are.) So I wrote a story about a simple incident in my life and told it from the point of view of someone blind in a world where all people are blind, someone who has just gained sight in a world where everyone has always been able to see, and someone who has just gained the ability to detect heartbeats and pulse rhythms in a world where everyone has always been able to gauge each other's emotions by their heartbeats. Each of these episodes shows how someone without these skills is lost in a social world where the skills are taken for granted. (And yes, I did write this in a fit of pique after the episode in the sighted world happened to me{at work}.) This story is one of the few I've written that could possibly be told without hypertext. But the links and navigational structure allow readers to go through the text and compare experiences in a way that I think would be much more intiutive and explain much more than a simple recounting of the episode three times. {Free lunch}

But you wanted to know how to create hypertexts. Well, go to someone else for a discussion of tools .{Tool rant} Basically, you have to sculpt something out of words--you have to look at the three (and sometimes four) dimensional aspect of the thing you are creating. Hypertext isn't just about forking paths, it is and can be much more than that. You as hypertext author not only see where the trails and nodes are, you see the entire map at once. You have to envision your reader embarking on any one of the nodes and having this information --but not that information--when she reads the next node or follows this path versus that path. (I have identified at least 500 ways you can read Disappearing Rain. The only way I could follow all these paths myself was to put the whole thing up on a wall and follow the connections with specially colored threads. I then had to take 3 months off of work and do nothing but remember all of the links and all of the possible readings and who followed what and when. And then I tried to edit it....and I confess, I missed a few spots...{and now I've forgotten}) So you have to approach it holistically as well as atomistically.



Exercise: In Your Arms

Experiment: On Your Own


Team sports

Exchange: Share Your Creations

Share your work in person

Share your work online



We'd love to show your work--either send it or send a URL for your work here to be a part of this site.

Fun da mentals: Links / Images / Sounds / Multiple voices / Node paths / Spatial placement/ Collage and layering / Fonts / Secrets / Random / Glossary / Tools / Teacher's Guide