I’ve been thinking lately more and more about what form should fiction writing take online, and—although I have no idea what the future holds—I can make some guesses.
Offline vs Online Reading
I love reading books. I just finished Van Vogt’s “The World of Null-A” and I’m looking forward to its sequels. I like both short and long books. I do prefer long books since they let me sink into the story and once inside it is effortless to stay submerged. A short story requires my full commitment and concentration from the get-go in order to squeeze all the juice out of it.
When reading on the web (laptop or phone), I find it really difficult to read long form or even mid-length texts. I am never in a relaxed predisposition when I’m on my laptop; I am either working, banking or answering emails.
Long articles require from me a level of attention that I can’t (or wont) give to them. (This is also why more and more, I like to handwrite on a notebook. I find a notebook and its lack of multitasking, notifications and cat videos, the perfect space for my creativity to spread.) Short form feels natural online. Status updates, tweets, messages, quotes, … All of them can be easily copied, sent, they fit “above the fold”, they are scannable and they can serve as an abstract as much as an introduction.
New trends online also seem to favor short form (and short attention span): twitter, snapchat, instagram… even facebook favors small post.
But, Where does fiction fit online?
Writers have developed best practices for many non-fiction genres of writing online: journaling/autobiographical (blogs), reference (wikis), reviews (curating sites), reporting (news sites), etc. This has happened organically on each on these niches.
Fiction, however, hasn’t found a format or space on the web. Whatever form(s) fiction takes online, it will likely be short and it will have to live in a space that’s naturally shareable and easily accessible.
Like the living thing it is, fiction writing on the web, today, will have to adapt to the environment to survive.