I read a lot, obviously. (Hence the book blog.) There are a things that happen when you read a lot, but one of the things that usually captures my attention is when I come across authors or writers trying to do something a little bit different or a little bit out of the ordinary. There are plenty of authors writing great books and publishing them in a traditional manner. But there are also authors who will push the boundaries of a story, whether its devising a new way to physically print the story, or using technology to enhance or complement the narrative.
Here’s a look at some of the people – and the books – that are doing things just a little bit differently.
- In the early 90′s, Nick Bantock took the idea of an epistolary novel to a whole new level with his Griffin & Sabine trilogy. The story of an extraordinary correspondence between two people doesn’t take place on the pages of a book, but rather through their correspondence itself. Bantock’s concept was to create the letters, notes, postcards and envelopes exchanged by Griffin and Sabine, and then let readers peek at their back-and-forth.
- More recently, Chris Ware took the comic book form of literature in a new direction with his Building Stories. In this volume, there is no book at all; rather, the tales of the inhabitants of a Chicago apartment building are told through a variety of pieces: pamphlets, broadsheets, even scraps of paper. Even more intriguing is the idea that the parts of the whole can be read in any order – the linear trajectory doesn’t apply here, making for a different experience every time you open the box.
- Anyone who is anyone uses social media today, and the really savvy authors are deliberate about using various social media sites to promote upcoming works, particularly those that are highly anticipated. Both Geroge R.R. Martin and Diana Gabaldon have wisely given fans glimpses of their upcoming novels. Martin uses his blog to regularly publish excerpts and even whole chapters from the next book in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, The Winds of Winter. Gabaldon, meanwhile, posts daily excerpts from her next book, Written in My Heart’s Own Blood, on Facebook. Both are great ways of giving readers a taste of what they want, while keeping them engaged until publication day.
- Last month, authors, writers and content creators teamed up with Twitter and Penguin Random House for the 2014 Twitter Fiction Festival. Twitter Fiction is, in the words of the founders, about “embracing, exploring and developing the art of storytelling on Twitter.” Several authors (with “traditional” published books) contributed stories over a series of 140-character tweets. Others relied on images and Vine videos to tell a story visually. Then there are groups of people tweeting as specific characters in a story (either one they’ve made up or one borrowed from another author).
- YouTube has been around for years, but during the course of the past few years, there has been a rise in YouTube movies and series focused on adaptations of classic literature. The best known, of course, is likely The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, but there have also been adaptations of Jane Austen’s Emma and Bronte’s, Jane Eyre. There’s even a new version of Anne of Green Gables in the early stages of development. While these are not strictly literature (at least in the same way as the other items on the list emphasize, in part, the written word), they do introduce classic literature to new audiences in relatable ways.
This is, of course, not an exhaustive list. There are probably hundreds of other examples of how people are taking the idea of a story on paper and twisting it in new and different ways. That’s what makes it fun – every day, people are trying to do something out of the ordinary, to see what happens. And while I don’t think traditional publishing or printed books are going anywhere (even with the continued rise of e-books), I think it will be interesting to see what the world comes up with next.
Think I missed someone or something important? Tell me in the comments?
[Photo Credit: Getty Images]