When I was younger, I read a lot of Goosebumps books. RL Stine, along with Ann M. Marting, made up a good chunk of my elementary school reading list. That being said, I loved when a new Give Yourself Goosebumps book came out. The ability to choose how or I would die (or, on the rare occasion, survive) made the book that much more enjoyable.
Because of that, I was excited about reading one of those stories for class. When I realized that The Garden of Forking Paths wasn’t actually a choose-your-own-adventure, I was actually pretty disappointed. I had been looking forward to reading an early version of one of these stories. Instead, I had just another story to read.
Even with my disappointment, as a history nerd it was fascinating to see how those stories were discussed in a different era. The idea that a story that you choose the answer to is something so exotic and innovative is just mind-boggling to me. It almost doesn’t make sense. There had to have been other stories before that, right? I mean, there’s only so many original ideas before something simply becomes altered to meet and end.
He read with slow precision two versions of the same epic chapter. In the first, an army marches to a battle across a lonely mountain; the horror of the rocks and shadows makes the men undervalue their lives and they gain an easy victory. In the second, the same army traverses a palace where a great festival is taking place; the resplendent battle seems to them a continuation of the celebration and they win the victory.
This is just…so…cool. But more than that, Beth Anne has it totally right in her blog post. ”So if people are picking up books that they can connect with already, imagine how many more people would consider reading a hypertext novel? It’s the ultimate connection between reader and author.”
This is the most connected a reader and author can be: the author is laying the foundation, but the reader is creating the story to their liking.
You are the story.