Today’s short fiction experiment is brought to you by the wonders of online personality quizzes. I’ve been thinking a lot about the reader as an active participant and critic, rather than a passive victim or audience member. This morning I was chatting about this notion on Twitter, apropos yet another article about whether the internet is killing novels.
As an enthusiastic reader of both Serious Novels and the internet, these articles bug me. The novel was never a broadcast medium in the first place; it’s always invited active participation, and writers who are afraid of the internet are afraid of the subjectivity of readers. Since I made this point better on Twitter, and other writers contributed much to the discussion, I’ve Storified the conversation here.
As well as being an interesting formal challenge for me – I really didn’t know whether a story/quiz was possible – I thought that writing in the form of a quiz would be a way to play with these ideologies around reading stories and what stories are for, while inviting the kind of participation that the internet invites from readers. So please comment and share your results and reactions! Here it is:
The story was written in the free quiz-making software, which had many limitations. The “questions”/paragraphs were quite limited in length, but the form itself also presented challenges. I tried writing a clearer and more deterministic quiz, but it didn’t work as fiction. I then tried working from a clear and sensible piece of fiction, but that didn’t work as a quiz. The result is a fairly simple and light story which in quiz form offers a layer of metafictional analysis. The results the story is looking for are not at first clear – there’s no explicit question. But stories always pose questions of their own, however vaguely they encroach. Your results will be about what you expect from stories, and how you read. In each of the four results available, Mountain, Animal will fail to meet your expectations.