Hyper-What?: Some Views on Reader Discomfiture with Hypertext Fiction

Critical Writing
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After several years of writing, reading, and introducing college students to hypertext fiction and poetry, I have found one of my biggest challenges to be trying to convince students that I am not punishing them by assigning hypertext works as course readings, and that they can indeed find some sort of aesthetic pleasure in reading these works. Most of these student readers, many of whom have never heard of--much less read--hypertext fiction, are not impressed with the complicated narrative structures full of endless loops and confusing paths that seem to dominate much of the hypertext fiction published to date. In my dealings with these novice readers of hypertext fiction, I have found three major hindrances to readers' enjoyment of hypertext fiction: the (apparent) lack of closure, frustration with non-linear narrative, and navigational issues.

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Cheryl Ball