MultiTouch Fiction

Rules, Books & Why

As we get back on the highway from our detour, there’s a signpost up ahead flashing a neon message as you merge with the rush hour traffic. The message, for your benefit, concerns:

a) the fundamental rules of the road
b) their corollaries 

Five Rules of Writing (not advice; merely discovered)

1a. Write clearly.
1b. That’s it: long words or short; this style or that. Doesn’t matter.

2a. Do NOT kill your darlings.
2b. The whole thing is your darling; kill (cut) what’s unnecessary.

3a. Write what you know, but. . .
3b.  . . .remember always: you can learn to know anything.

4a. Trust yourself.
4b. Doubt is good. It pushes you. Doubt gives you resolve. Each time you overcome doubt is one more victory that feeds back into the truth of trusting yourself.

5a. Be yourself.
5b. Art is an individual expression. If you try to be like anyone else you won’t be an artist because you won’t be yourself. 

The Books or Why There are Only Five Rules of Writing

Books you must have read (and why) before you know how to put words on the page in their proper arrangement:

  1. The Great Gatsby (1925, F. Scott Fitzgerald) because it just happens to be one of the most beautiful books ever written. Year in, year out, no one re-reads The Great Gatsby to find out what happens. No one.
  2. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884, Mark Twain) is the greatest ‘Great American Novel’ ever written because a thirteen year old boy explains in a most authentic and profound way America’s Original Sin.
  3. 1984 (1949, George Orwell) is the quintessential novel of the future written as though it happened yesterday. “Inevitable” is the one word screaming between every line.
  4. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865, Lewis Carroll) just because. . . of all of it. . . and because 2015 is the 150th anniversary of the book’s publication and we’re still talking about it.
  5. The Sun Also Rises (1926, Ernest Hemingway) because it’s straight, to the point and utterly devastating. Icebergs dead ahead.
  6. The Catcher in the Rye (1951, J.D. Salinger) because Holden Caulfield is the most ‘developed’ character in 20th century American literature. In the clarity of the close-up, no one else comes close.
  7. Lolita (1955, Vladimir Nabokov) don’t let anyone tell you any differently: this is straight-up, modern-day Shakespearean tragedy. Nabokov achieves his immortal enchantment with language that is rich, lyrical and, in most instances, beyond compare.
  8. Cloud Atlas (2004, David Mitchell) because there is simply no greater example of contemporary, utterly enjoyable fiction s t r e t c h e d in postmodern fashion by arguably the greatest writer of English prose living today. David Mitchell is the modern master who will be taught forevermore.
  9. Shakespeare’s Sonnets (1609, William Shakespeare) because the greatest writer of the English language has left you 154 fourteen-line Renaissance poems in iambic pentameter from the 17th century that are still crystal clear in the 21st. If you’re not in love with the sounds of words, you’ll never be a writer. You might as well learn from the best.

The Lesson We All Learned in Third Grade

We are going to take a quick, but necessary, detour.

MultiTouchFiction.com does not offer advice on the craft of writing. All the great writers throughout history, the ones who inspire your own efforts, have offered their insights. They all told you the same things. They told you that it took years to develop their craft and that they never stopped learning. Many have written, often in harrowing detail, how their own path to great writing first had to travel through an intimidating landscape: an openness where the writer stands naked and in submission before a scalpel that dissects, dismembers and examines – without mercy or benefit of anesthesia – the outpouring of the heart and soul. They told you this requires great courage and a commitment to your craft that few writers are ready – or willing – to make. But they said something else: they started out just like you. They knew there is greatness in each one of us and to depend on that truth with every sentence you hone, every page you agonize over.

However, these writers never faced the profoundly disturbing modern development every artist working today must conquer. The Internet offers wonderful opportunities for learning and connection and the advancement of knowledge for the entire human race. But the Internet has a dark side: mankind’s unleashed id spreading misunderstandings and falsehoods and calumny around the world in a millisecond – often stated in the vilest of language – and calling it opinion. When this trickles up we see the results: where anyone with a website can make a claim to knowledge and authority without possessing either. Where anyone can claim to be a qualified Art or Literary Critic without practicing the standards of excellence established over 400 years of scholarship whose origins can be traced as far back as Aristotle’s Poetics. Cultural anthropologists throughout academia are studying this phenomenon and the corrosive effect it is having on society,  as well as what it portends for the future of our civilization.

A pervasive darkness threatens. We must be on our guard. Art is an individual expression. The cynic despises your passion and your talent because he has no passion or talent of his own.

We all learned an important lesson in third grade. It wasn’t from a book or what the teacher said. It was a lesson we learned intuitively. As we grew older most of us simply forgot: the kid on the other side of the room calling you stupid for no good reason is simply not worth talking to. We knew intuitively it was nonsense. But as we grew older and we learned to value critical thinking in our walk through life, we tried to use reason and dialogue (and our innate good graces) to ask why someone was thoughtlessly trashing our work. We said “let’s talk about it” and we found that no matter how generous or solicitous we were, it was a total waste of time.

MultiTouch Fiction is an entirely new Art form. At this point in time no one is qualified to render an informed opinion on this Art. Apple itself is only recently aware that iBooks Author, originally created for textbooks and non-fiction, has ushered in a revolutionary genre of Literature. No one is an expert on how iBooks Author can be used to create MultiTouch Fiction. No one can say you need to use a certain feature in a certain way. These are artistic choices. There are no hard and fast rules. Hard and fast rules are the very opposite of creativity. iBooks Author is a sophisticated, feature-rich, multimedia-authoring platform that is so – how shall we put this? – ridiculously easy to use, that your creativity has free reign to explore an entirely new landscape in one of the most exciting developments in Literature.

The writer is an artist. Your goal is to create what Poe called, in another context, the “unity of effect” fundamental to all Art that elicits in the observer that experience when, in a single moment of truth, the beauty of Art presents itself. It could be the few lines of a sonnet or the tale of a Jazz Age bootlegger. It’s in that Stephen King story, too: for a week, you kept all the lights on at night when you discovered your neighbors’ dogs were meeting in secret to plot their revenge. Beauty is found in the most unlikeliest of places. Anyone who tells you otherwise, just remember it’s the kid in third grade all over again; and we’ve just been through all that.

You have work to do.

Next: Rules, Books & Why

In MultiTouch Fiction There’s No Such Thing As a Publisher

Read that sentence again. Memorize it. It’s a MultiTouch Fiction writer’s mantra with major implications that go far beyond the individual artist.

Creating a novel-length MultiTouch Fiction title will require the author to collaborate with various artists and multimedia-content creatives over one or two years or more. Can you imagine the book pitch you send to New York, to the risk-averse Big Publisher already loath to give a fiction writer any advance? Now the acquiring editor must consider a production budget? After a good chuckle, she suddenly remembers something. Now she’s annoyed. She looks at her watch, grabs her purse and tosses your proposal in the trash bin. Your futile exercise has made her late for lunch at Le Bernardin.

Which leads us to a few short, but necessary, sidebars about the current state of the publishing industry.

  • Big Publishing has gone through a wave of industry consolidation over the past three decades. The new Corporate Masters scoffed at any tradition that didn’t maximize return-on-investment as bad management. They were in charge now and required Big Publishing to maintain 20% net margins vs the “Gentleman’s 6” of the previous hundred and fifty years. A risk-averse business model was adopted and the result was a publishing industry focused on non-fiction ‘Health, Wealth and Wisdom’ titles by leading authorities; celebrity ‘authors’ of tell-alls and cookbooks; and brand-name authors for fiction. In this environment, there was no place for new writers without track-records or brand recognition. The few who did get past the ‘gatekeepers’ were industry insiders with the right connections from the right MFA program taught by the former editor who knew the names of the right people’s children.
  • Big Publishing today is a wasteland filled with marketeers and sycophants who indulge their brand-name and celebrity clients, neither countenancing nor concerning themselves with new voices and new ideas. Their inside culture has distorted a once-vibrant publishing industry that took pride in introducing and championing writers, the great names who influenced generations and won Nobel Prizes and are taught at all levels in academia.
  • Big Publishing also has a Big Problem: an unsustainable business model based on inflated product-pricing incompatible with a cloud-based digital economy. When the dust finally settles, they will be left with the cash flow to hold out for about six minutes before their Corporate Masters have them thrown in the street and convert their office space into Big Data warehouses for Hedge Funds in Connecticut who want their fiber-optic lines ten-millionths of a second closer to the New York Stock Exchange. The Corporate Masters aren’t interested in books; only profit.

Now, consider: any author or team self-funding a MultiTouch Fiction project to completion has no need for outside help from either Big Publishing or the Self-Publishing “experts” with their thinly-disguised sales pitches to sell you the important advice only they can give so you can be successful. They don’t know anything about the new genre of MultiTouch Fiction; if they did, they would be telling you all about it. They aren’t. They are literally old-school and dried-up as old textbooks that never get updated. In the lingo of the day they just don’t get it. And if you are reading these words, you already know more than they do. They are the past; you are the future.

Remember, the title of this post is your new mantra. You don’t “publish” a MultiTouch Fiction title: you digitally upload the iBooks Author files using iTunes Producer to package your assets in a ‘runtime-wrapper’ and then post your MultiTouch Fiction ‘book-app’ directly to the iBooks Store. That’s it.

It gets even simpler. Your MultiTouch Fiction title has only one market: the two hundred million plus iPad Users around the world. In six months, figure over two hundred and fifty million iPad Users. Is that market big enough for you? Put another way: MultiTouch Fiction titles created with iBooks Author are essentially iOS-ported ‘book apps’ that no other tablet on the market supports. But Apple defined the Tablet product category; built, then sold hundreds of millions of units all over the world; and is heavily promoting iBooks Author to ensure a continual stream of new titles for one of their flagship products. No one expects Apple to give up this advantage. The ‘haters and complainers’ need to give it a rest already and accept that Apple will dominate the Tablet market for as long as they wish. And this is a good thing! Apple’s dominant position in the Tablet space is no different from Microsoft’s dominant position in the desktop space. Microsoft’s dominance of the desktop helped Business standardize around a common platform across the Enterprise, creating the most efficient workplace in history. This standardization was a more important factor than performance specs alone. It happened for Google in Search and Adobe in Image Editing as well;  google and photoshop are now verbs in the Oxford English Dictionary. Standards are set all the time and are vital to the growth of any industry and market. The iPad is the defacto ‘gold standard’ in the Tablet space and iBooks Author is the revolutionary multimedia-authoring platform that will forever change the publishing industry. We’re not just out for a Sunday drive here; these products are transforming our world.

Believe it or not, it gets even simpler still. After your MultiTouch Fiction title is secured in the cloud, all your future efforts are focused on a single marketing objective: persuading iPad Users to download the free Preview/Sample of your product. This is the model responsible for the phenomenal success of the Mobile App Market: the consumer is given a free Demo version of the app because only the app itself can persuade the consumer to buy the full version. This is the fundamental difference between traditional publishing and the brave new world of digital content delivery. Today’s digital consumer will typically purchase multiple apps in a year because the majority of these new digital products are offered at ‘impulse-buy’ price points where ‘buyer’s remorse’ is literally nonexistent: your Preview/Sample has already persuaded them to buy your product. It is organic marketing at its finest. It was the App Market that not only validated the concept of micro-payments but facilitated an entirely new way to let consumers persuade themselves to part with their money. Today, mobile computing devices are the primary means of delivering information and entertainment to the consumer; and consumers are participating in the digital economy in ways that have surpassed the most optimistic predictions. This pace will only accelerate.

MultiTouch Fiction is dream category. New technologies are providing authors the tools to create the richest and largest literary market in history. Authors, artists and multimedia creatives have an unparalleled opportunity before them to enter a multi-billion dollar mobile market primed for explosive growth. In a world where the mobile platform is pervasive, there is every reason to expect that MultiTouch Fiction will actually increase readership across all demographics. We are now witnessing one of those rare opportunities that comes along once or twice in a century where the outmoded gets swept aside to make way for the new and innovative, promising great rewards to the forward-thinkers in a position to take advantage of those opportunities.

Given the very nature of MultiTouch Fiction, it is inevitable that authors, not publishers, will dominate this space. We need only believe in our abilities and our capacity for hard work. No writer would expect it to be otherwise: we already know what hard work goes into creating a fictional world. The real world – that’s  a cakewalk!

Next: The Lesson We All Learned in Third Grade

iBooks Author and The Simple Experiment Every Writer Should Perform

In storytelling, a writer continually experiments with language, point-of-view, narrative voice and other modes of expression to bring together the story’s character, action and plot in a way that best conveys the writer’s intent. The outcome of these ‘experiments’ come to define an author’s career. Any writer who performs the following  experiment will see why the MultiTouch Fiction format is such a compelling new mode of expression for the storyteller.

Step 1: In iBooks Author, select the “Basic” template; click on the ‘Inspector” icon and fill in the Author and Title fields, then select File > Save. Copy-and-paste the text of the first chapter of your book into iBooks Author. Start reading: you are looking for places in the text where four separate story elements – action, dialogue, plot, and setting – suggest an illustration. One by one, imagine the subject and style of each illustration. Perform a search query using a few words you associate with the illustration. Select the “Images” category and look for a picture or illustration similar to what you imagined. Copy-and-paste the illustration into the text; resize it and move it about. Consider the illustration as a ‘placeholder’ for the ideal content you will create. Repeat this process for each of the four elements in your first chapter: action, dialogue, plot, setting. When you are done, click the “Preview” icon on the toolbar; this saves the book on your iPad and opens it with the “iBooks” app previously installed.

Step 2: Sit back, read and relax (a glass of wine falls within the parameters of this experiment). Consider the implications – and the possibilities – suggested by your modest effort. Review the different multimedia content types that iBooks Author has built into the program and ask yourself how, for example, music or an animation might be used in the storytelling. Visit Bookry.com where you will learn about other Widgets. Bookry’s growing library of free Widgets is just a peek at even more possibilities.

Step 3: Sit back, relax again and let your imagination run with all of it.

This straightforward, three-step experiment reveals how the MultiTouch format can be used in the art of storytelling and how iBooks Author facilitates this new mode of expression. The methods and aesthetic sensibilities whereby the various multimedia elements are created are, of course, much larger subjects for discussion and will be addressed in future commentary at MultiTouchFiction.com. But for now, you’re off to a great start. Build out your first chapter, experimenting with other multimedia content. Soon you will be thinking not just how you will use the MultiTouch format in a future project but that you will use it.

Or maybe that short story you wrote is perfect for the MultiTouch ‘treatment’  and the perfect MultiTouch ‘freebie’ for your loyal readers.

Next: In MultiTouch Fiction There’s No Such Thing as a Publisher

How Did MultiTouch Fiction Become a New Genre of Literature?

Four key technology-driven developments are responsible for the massive paradigm shift disrupting the publishing industry today:

  • Mass-acceptance of e-readers
  • Explosive growth of self-publishing in the e-book format
  • Mass-adoption of advanced, feature-rich tablet devices
  • User-friendly authoring/publishing app with multimedia integration

This is an interesting list to reflect on. It seems hard to believe that serious observers once thought e-books would never catch on, that self-publishing wasn’t legitimate and the only way you would ever get your hands on a tablet computer was if you joined Starfleet. Being wrong is one thing; being spectacularly wrong when you’re supposed to know what you’re talking about…well, that’s something else entirely, isn’t it?

Apple’s release of the iPad was the third development and a technology milestone that essentially created the tablet marketspace. Now the defacto tablet standard with sales of over two hundred million units, the iPad is effectively the ‘only game in town’ for developers when it comes to an advanced mobile computing device capable of displaying content-rich multimedia apps in a large-screen format. Apple’s release of iBooks Author is the fourth development; one that is also accelerating the other three. iBooks Author was created so that authors could take books and ebooks beyond words and static illustrations by creating new titles – multimedia book ‘apps’ – specifically for the iPad. iBooks Author is a revolutionary product transforming genres one by one. Textbooks and Non-Fiction were the first to be re-imagined and re-invented, both to critical acclaim and widespread consumer appeal. iBooks Author has now given the concept of ‘enhanced interactive fiction’ the definition and scope it so badly needed, establishing the legitimacy of the new genre once and for all. We call this new genre MultiTouch Fiction.

Those ‘serious observers’ who dismissed e-books and tablets went apoplectic when ‘enhanced interactive fiction’ was first proposed. Integrating multimedia into a literary work of art? That was a violation of the first order and would be “as if someone had crayoned Donald Duck into the Last Supper.” The only thing this crowd wanted to draw was a line in the sand. Comically, they were wrong-headed here as well.

For the simple truth is that we live in a society dominated by visual entertainment, where opinion has never varied when it comes to the fulfillment readers experience from a favorite book of fiction. That is where literature has always derived its power. Given the entertainment preferences of consumers today, it seems inevitable that MultiTouch Fiction will have widespread appeal and become a preferred reading experience for millions. After all, how can you give over two hundred million iPad owners a new and completely unique reading experience, combining their favorite forms of entertainment with the most fullfilling, and expect anything less?

Next: The Simple Experiment Every Writer Should Perform

An Invitation to Writers and Artists Everywhere

The most fundamental human desire of all is to understand our relationship to the universe. The more we investigate this mystery, the further the mystery deepens: we can never know why the mystery is there in the first place. The only certainty is that the desire to understand becomes stronger than ever. Art is the purest expression of that desire; and that desire is the sole reason Art exists. We find no example of a culture without Art. Throughout the centuries, Art has gone through one transformation after another, across all peoples and all cultures, expressed in divergent ways too numerous to count. Art is humanity’s whisper to the universe requesting clarification. It is an ancient request. This is why we take Art so seriously. This is why we create new Art.

Art has always been about the How, not the What. When great writers and artists bring their aesthetic sensibilities to MultiTouch Fiction, great works of Art will emerge. To believe otherwise is to deny history. To believe otherwise is to deny your own possibilities.

Next: How Did MultiTouch Fiction Become a New Genre of Literature?

What is MultiTouch Fiction?

Stated simply, MultiTouch Fiction integrates multimedia content within the storyline and structure of a novel, novella or short story for the purpose of giving the reader a more expansive experience of the fictional world the author has imagined.

One popular, long-standing genre of storytelling that requires the integration of different media types serves as example. A children’s picture book combines short-form text and illustrations to create a synergy in which each element contributes it’s own ‘language’ and each element supports the other in the storytelling. In an ideal picture book, the sum is literally greater than the parts.

In MultiTouch Fiction, a deep synergy is created by integrating into the text various multimedia elements including illustrations, interactive galleries, animations, live-action video, audio and music and customized ‘mini-apps’ called Widgets. These elements of MultiTouch Fiction are innovations in storytelling, providing a palette of tools that allow the author to express a story in entirely new ways. Interactive Widgets, for instance, can contribute to a story in ways limited only by the author’s imagination. Widgets can include games and puzzles with challenges relating to the storyline but can also go much further. A MultiTouch Mystery, for example, might include a social networking widget customized to give readers around the world the ability to collaborate in groups. This immediacy can take the reader to new levels of engagement and allow an author to create a multi-structure plot line based on reader involvement. This is just one possibility; and in MultiTouch Fiction, the possibilities are endless.

Next: An Invitation to Writers and Artists Everywhere

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