Incremental Storytelling and Calypsis: A Hypertext Fiction a Critical Introduction

Critical Writing
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2013
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Abstract (in English): 

This critical introduction to Calypsis: A Hypertext Fiction argues that university creative writing programs should make full use of the institutional space, time, and resources available to them by introducing students to different types of writing projects and engage students in critical discussions about creative production, activities that they are unlikely to find outside the university's walls. These activities includes experimenting with digital tools, creating multimedia compositions, and producing collaborative work, as well as situating creative writing as an embodied act within specific historical, political, and material conditions. Herein I forward my theory of incremental storytelling, which is informed by both creative writing pedagogy and gaming theory, as one strategy for achieving these goals. Using this methodology, students learn the craft of fiction writing in smaller, discrete bits that, in aggregate, create something much greater than their constituent parts. This progressive approach puts students in immediate contact with each others' writing throughout the entire creative process and opens space for critical discussions about the fictional characters and the shared world they create. I go on to describe a course I designed using incremental storytelling entitled "Gaming, World Building, and Narrative," where students used a wiki and a Google map to collaboratively create a sprawling post-apocalyptic world that they then explored via a tabletop role-playing game. Students responded enthusiastically to the course, as shown in their responses to a survey asking them to reflect on this experimental method. I then connect the theory of incremental storytelling and narratives derived from role-playing games to my creative dissertation, Calypsis: A Hypertext Fiction, and how it might serve as inspiration for others to experiment with creating a collaboratively built world.

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Jill Walker Rettberg