The text doesn’t stop at the end of the page (or does it?) : an exploration of how the novel form responds to digital interactivity through the cross-sited novel ‘Once in a lifetime’

[thumbnail of WELDON John-thesis_nosignature.pdf]
WELDON John-thesis_nosignature.pdf - Submitted Version (1MB) | Preview

Weldon, John (2014) The text doesn’t stop at the end of the page (or does it?) : an exploration of how the novel form responds to digital interactivity through the cross-sited novel ‘Once in a lifetime’. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Change is a constant of storytelling, in terms of both form and content. Many scholars and commentators have argued, however, that the effects currently being wrought on fiction texts as a result of the influence of digital technology and interactivity are the most monumental that storytelling has undergone since the invention of moveable type in the mid-1400s. Writers have wrestled with ways to include digital technology in their work since its introduction in the late 1960s. It has been used as subject matter and as a tool to shape, contain and present their work to readers. This experimentation was accelerated in the 1980s following the development of hyperfiction. Web 2.0 and the birth of interactive social media have seen an increased focus among scholars on the ways and means by which digital interactivity has and will impact on storytelling and reading. This leads to an often-polarising debate and one which ranges in tone from apocalyptic to euphoric in response to the question of how long-form narrative in particular will fare as a result. As a storyteller writing a novel set in a contemporary context, I became aware of the possible use-value of social media, in the form of the blog, to deliver content – in this case, inner monologue. Those sections of the novel concerned with self-reflection thereby transformed from what was originally a Socratic/Seinfeldian internal dialectic, framed through the use of second person, into something more akin to the sort of content that might be found on a blog. It was only a short step from there to a consideration of how social media might be used in the form of the work as well as in its content. This then led to an exploration of how this might change the nature of what was written, how it was read and the effects on the relationship between reader, author and character. Through the medium of what became the cross-sited, interactive fiction ‘Once in a Lifetime’ (comprising the novel ‘Once in a Lifetime’ and the blogs Note to Elf and Hot Seat) I attempted to create a scenario whereby the effects that the incorporation of iii digital interactivity into both the narrative and the form of a novel might affect the work and the relationships between writer, reader and characters. I wished to explore whether the introduction of interactivity to the novel might allow for the novel form to move beyond the page. Would the story continue to grow in cyberspace with input from readers, or would the novel form prove more resistant to such intervention?

Additional Information

PhD in Creative Writing

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > College of Arts
Keywords novels, literature, creative writing, digital interactivity, interactive fiction, hypertext fiction, cross-sited, interactive digital technologies, e-books, reader interaction, depression, loss, blogs, social media, The Project
Download/View statistics View download statistics for this item

Search Google Scholar

Repository staff login