The malleable story

Running Flat is a malleable story. Readers can choose how they read a story—by following only one plotline and not another—or by following one character and not another.

Have you ever watched a movie or read a book and thought to yourself  that it would be great if you could watch the relationship develop and ignore the car chases and explosions?  Or just the opposite, keep the action while dropping the gushy stuff?  With a malleable story, you can.

Readers always have agency when they read. Readers invest themselves in various characters. They interpret motives and themes in different ways than other readers do or than the author may have intended. For example, was Moby Dick about a fight against God? Man’s impossible quest to ascribe meaning? Or just a tale of action? Readers interact with Moby Dick in different ways even though they are reading the same novel.

What if we gave readers even more agency? How would that affect the writing of the story? How would that effect reading and interpretation?

Often novels have a main plot and subplots. To increase the effect of the agency, Running Flat was written with several plots that can operate independently of one another—not one plot with subplots but many plots. It was also written with multiple protagonists, multiple main characters with their own struggles that happen to live in the world with other main characters who have their own struggles

This felt more like real life. I write this sitting in a café with 14 other people who are fiddling with their smartphones or drinking coffee or reading the paper or flirting or wishing they were someplace else. While I may be the protagonist of my life and be living along the plotline of my existence, these other 14 people are doing the same. They aren’t supporting characters in my life or, more accurately, they are my supporting characters in addition to being the protagonist of their own life.

To give even more agency to the reader, please email me with any thoughts you might have!