For my final project, I wasn’t entirely sure which genre of E-lit that I wanted to pursue as we have explored so many interesting types. Upon exploring various works over the semester, one work in particular that I was inspired by was heyharryheymatilda by Rachel Hulin. Hulin’s work is a perfect example of how we interact with the social networks we participate in. One of the things that really brought this to my attention was the use of the Instagram platform itself. In his book, Electronic Literature, Rettberg states that “Networks are both technological and social structures. For electronic literature, networks are both platform and material.”(152). I knew that I wanted to create a work that mimicked the type of intimate narrative that Hulin’s work achieves. I chose to create a piece of network fiction, specifically digital vernacular fiction.
I knew that I wanted to create a work that took a socially common practice, such as text messaging, as a way to highlight how we interact with one another through various social networks and how these interactions can be considered narratives.
For my piece, I chose to tell the story of two childhood friends through their text message conversations. Along with text shared back and forth between the two characters, I also include images in the same way that individuals share imagery with one another in social network spaces. By utilizing such a well known and commonly used platform to tell my story, the reader is able to easily connect with the narrative and the characters. To me, this is one of the best things about network fiction.
My creative process for writing this story was somewhat challenging. I am not a creative writer by nature, so it was important for me to make my narrative interesting. I didn’t want it to be seen as just a mundane conversation between two people. I wanted there to be relatable themes with interesting twists along the way.
After writing down all the separate texts between my two characters, I then went and found images from creative commons sources that would go along with certain moments in the story. After searching for what seemed like hours trying to find the perfect app or online software to create my text conversations, I finally settled on an app called “Fake Chat Story”. One of the reasons why I chose this app in particular was because I was able to personalize various settings such as the names of my characters as well as select avatars for each. This app also allows you to send images which was a feature that was important to tell my story. After recording each day’s conversation of the narrative, I then compiled all the video footage and imported them into Adobe AfterEffects. I was then able to merge all the separate videos into one cohesive piece. Overall, I enjoyed the entire process. I found it to be a fun and challenging journey exploring network fiction along with all the other types of electronic literature.