Thursday, 2 July 2015

Next steps on the reader journey

When I last blogged about working out how readers will journey through my HayleyWorld zoeography, I was pondering how to:
  • personalise a reader's journey while still retaining an element of authorial control
  • make sure that readers can take different paths through the narrative and still read/experience something that feels like a coherent story
  • enable readers to feel like they're getting to know William Hayley in a way that mimics encountering him in real life.
A few months on, I'm still thinking about those issues – and suspect I'll continue to do so until the work's complete, I've post-mortemed myself almost to death over it*, and am on to the next big project†.

I'm also thinking about my methodology of designing the reader journey in a step-by-step linear way.
Given that I'm trying to make the reading experience feel less linear, is designing it in a linear manner, well, wrong? One aspect that concerns me is that it increases the likelihood that  I'll end up losing something – a key aspect of William Hayley's story – en route. Or that I'll miss a vital left turn, one that would allow me and the reader to explore aspects of the tale that my let's-start-at-the-very-beginning approach obscures.

This is where I'm at:

Will need to do page set up: A3 if I want to travel any further…

As for content - I'm halfway through editing/writing the personalised letters Hayley will send to his readers, and am thinking through what and how he'll "ask" readers to provide the information required for Form 2: as I write I'm wondering if this might also be a good point to ask readers for their email address…

My suspicion is that, for now, step-by-step is the most practical way to proceed. It won't be for much longer, though. My guess is that when I'm one or two stages further into the journey, and these stages have been successfully (I hope) implanted into the next iteration of the HayleyWorld app, I'll need to sit down with several huge pieces of paper and map out the various relationships between the people, places, themes and chronologies of the story, and interrelate these to each other. Which will probably make my head pop open like this, but will also make me feel considerably less smiley…

And which is where everything I'm learning by blogging my way through Semantic Web for the Working Ontologist is likely to come in handy…

Very interested to hear others' thoughts on reader journey design…

* Yeah, I know. Am invoking the paradox defence.
† on the backburner are
  • an anarchist musical
  • a radio drama 
  • a crowd-sourced online project exploring the limits of kindness.

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