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A Wovel, and Choose Your Own Adventure Books

The Lost Jewels of Nabooti by R.A. Montgomery1. blog = short for “weblog”, an online journal, diary, or log.

2. web + novel = wovel, online prose published a bit at a time, so readers can read along. The term was coined by Victoria Blake, former editor at Dark Horse Comics (who distribute Joss Whedon’s amazing Buffy thr Vampire Slayer Season 8 comics, by the way), and her partner Jesse Pollack.

“A wovel is a Web novel,” Blake says. “There’s an installment every Monday. At the end of every installment, there’s a binary plot branch point with a vote button at the end.”

The article on NPR calls the wovel a ‘literary alternative to browsing blogs’. I’m not sure I see the comparison, besides blogs and wovels both being readable, and found on the internet. That’s good news though, as that means there’s room for both.

The article goes on to compare the wovel to “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, which I adored in my childhood, and would read any chance I could put my hands on one.

For those who aren’t familiar or don’t remember, Choose Your Own Adventure books contain stories, but at several points throughout the story, readers are given a choice of actions/decisions the character should make. “If John puts on the magic spacesuit, turn to page 6. If John decides against adventure in favour of a nice bowl of oxtail soup, turn to page 19”. That sort of thing.

In retrospect, many of the Choose books were quite morally heavy-handed: I remember a particular title where Choose Your Own Adventure met teen romance, and as I recall, if you had the protagonist choose Johnny Football Hero in his mustang instead of her big-hearted and gentlemanly suitor, penniless and sincere, plans went awry and she ended up with no date for the big dance at all.

However, as an easily manipulated child who didn’t question too much, I happily enjoyed the Choose Your Own Adventure books, particularly because it was like getting multiple books in one – each time you read, you could choose differently, and enjoy seeing the different outcomes.

The wovel will be limited in that capacity, sadly – readers can vote on an outcome, but the winning outcome will be the only one written/posted.

I’ll be interested to go and check this out and see what it’s all about.

One bit I did take umbrage with, however, was the opening of the article:

The way we read is changing. Time once spent curled up with a good book is now often devoted to catching up on blogs, and browsing Web sites.

Poppycock and hogwash. While I’m delighted to have more ways than ever to access the words and thoughts of various kinds of writers, and have added time spent reading online to my day, I’m nevertheless spending as much or more time curled up with a good book. Nothing can replace a blanket, a book and my fireplace as some of the only peaceful, quiet time I get, and time that never feels wasted.

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