June 24, 2009
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Idle Conversation

Susan Gibb is writing a short hypertext every day, through the summer. Yesterday’s piece was Idle Conversation, a short sketch in dialogue form. Here’s the introduction; click the map to read the story.

I sense real opportunities in small dramatic hypertexts composed entirely, or primarily, of dialogue. (Indeed, I think “Idle Conversation” would start stronger if it omitted “she said” and “he said.”) On the one hand, I’m thinking of short dramatic sketches like Mamet’s The Duck Variations. On the other hand, think of Frost’s wonderful setpieces, “Death of the Hired Man” and “Four Hundred Collars”. There’s lots you could do – opening into interior dialogue is just one of the moves you might make.

Imagine, for example, a variation on “Idle Conversation” where one of the characters withholds some crucial information from the other. “She” is actually the governor of a region of Argentina. “He” is married. Or “She” has just learned that she has Parkinson’s, or HIV. Or “He” is transgendered but – for reasons we can’t talk about right now – is wearing clothes from her former life. We could quickly be anywhere from “Casino Royale” to “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”.

One of my hopes for Reading Hypertext is to advance discussion of craft, and to promote real criticism of real hypertexts. I think a session — or maybe a track — of Tinderbox Weekend SF this fall (November 21-22) ought to be devoted to writerly topics. Ideas? Email me.