Instant Message Novels: The Prose of the Future? (page 2)

Instant Message Novels: The Prose of the Future?

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Updated on May 19, 2008

But can a book written entirely in instant messages be considered prose? Could this format, instead, be a negative influence on budding writers and readers? As with any literary device, there are limitations. An IM novel lacks traditional story components: an omniscient narrator who provides exposition and setting or scene description, quiet passages of time, or internal monologues. Developing characters or deep themes may also be more difficult – if characters converse online to each other, page after page, the opportunities for self-reflection and musings are absent.

“The reader is missing the connective tissue in an instant message novel,” says Smith. Experimental and lyrical novels, on the other hand, work on a poetic level as a series of interrelated pieces. “In contrast, the novel is a far less forgiving form of character, plot, or logic inconsistencies,” says Smith. But while an instant message novel may not be appropriate to teach reading and fundamental story elements like plot, setting, or exposition in a middle school classroom, the format mimics the day-to-day interaction between your child and her pals.

In the end, your child and her generation is tied to this mode of communication. “Readers, regardless of generation, tend to be adverse to gray pages,” says Smith. “IM novels are popular because they’re still a novelty, they speak the language of the audience, and they allow the reader a chance to fill in the blanks for themselves.”

Granted, your child may read “ttfn” for “ta ta for now” or “omg” for “oh my god,” but when a young reader fills in the blanks – imagines a scene, understands subtext, reads between the lines, or infers back-story or future plot events based on what she reads – she is thinking critically about the text. In a culture where many kids stare at a TV screen instead of flipping through a book, this type of interaction with the written word is positive.

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