Imagine one day you subscribe to a novel and it is sent to your phone in chapters. It is short, like a text message. You can read it on the bus, while waiting for your friend or when you are about to go to bed in the dead of the night. You can read it while traveling or when you have no space to pack a book. It takes you only 5 minutes to read a cell phone novel.
Cell phone novels are literary works written via text messaging, so each ‘chapter’ is around a hundred words long due to the limitations of a text. This style of writing originated in Japan and is distributed to readers through email, text or a writing website. When I was 15, I wrote one with my friend. We took turns to write a part of the story. It was fun. More than that, it was liberating.
When my phone spoilt and my friend accidentally deleted the chat, the story was lost forever. I remember the title of it. Chasing Red. But since both of us never finished it, I will never remember the ending.
I started writing another one because I was bored two mornings ago while travelling to school. The droning whoosh of the train rushing through the tunnel sounded like a snoring bear but the lights of the train carriage made it too bright to fall asleep and in any case, I was standing in the middle of a crowd of people.
This story is called Sepian and it is set in a half-created world that I never got around to finishing because of my phobia of blank pages. I’ve diligently uploaded a chapter each day for the past two days but the style of my story is very different from that of a cell phone novel.
Firstly, my story is 500 words per chapter. Secondly, a cell phone novel is written differently from an ordinary chaptered book. It makes use of minimalism and styling to create a stimulating narrative for the reader, using line breaks, punctuation, rhythm and white space to tell the story. That sort of style does not fit my fantasy plot so I don’t use it. Lastly, my story is really boring. Don’t read it if you know what’s good for you. But if you’re a rebel, here’s the link.
I want to publish a novel in the future, so my lecturers find it strange that I would choose to study in a Diploma of Creative Writing for TV and New Media since we don’t do literature. We don’t even write long-form stories! But I joined because I wanted to find out new ways of writing stories.
I was very disappointed that very few people visit bookshops or go to the library anymore. (Just kidding. I like the lack of crowds because that means I’m always able to find the book I’m looking for.)
I want to write stories that people will read. If people don’t read books anymore, then I’ll just have to write for TV or film. A story is a story no matter what medium is used right? Wrong. I’m a Year 3 student now, graduating next year, and I know now that I want to write books. I want my audience to see words when I tell my stories. Not pictures. Not film. Maybe I’ll dabble in that a little – for fun- but I want them to hear the sound of music in their minds, I want them to be charmed into the land of imagination by the call of the siren.
Are cell phone novels the new way of writing books? What do you think?