The Electronic Labyrinth

The Geometry of Authoring in Storyspace

The spatial arrangement of nodes deeply influences writing in Storyspace. The author may freely place nodes anywhere on the screen: within other nodes, out on the periphery of the network, packed close to other nodes. Because the rosette may be used to navigate to an adjacent node, proximity creates an implicit link. In addition, the node closest to the top left corner of the screen is the first to appear when opening the hyperbook. Thus, the geometry of the story space is made pre-eminent.

The challenge of the new medium is to organize this graphic space into an expressive environment. In Storyspace's authoring mode, multiple windows are possible; in the readers they are not. The reader may use the map to select a node but only one node may be opened at a time. The map itself can be quite complex since clusters of nodes may be nested inside other nodes. The only restriction on links is that a node cannot be connected to itself. One can work around this restriction by carefully chunking text into more appropriate nodes.

All of the Storyspace Readers provide ways of linking nodes in a strict linear order. This may be useful if the author wishes to restrict the reader to a single path for narrative purposes, such as dramatic tension.

Authors may wish to exploit Storyspace's inherent topography for writing (map, path, compass, space) by echoing this terminology in their text, or referring to it more subtly through character and plot movements. Imagine, for instance, a travelogue in which the description of distant locations are themselves held in distant nodes, and in which the links represent forms of transportation.

© 1993-2000 Christopher Keep, Tim McLaughlin, Robin Parmar.
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