I was having a discussion with a colleague today and we got onto the topic of truly unusual books. Rather than books that just have a really different and original premise, we were talking about books that take on a whole new format that has never been done before.
My colleague is much younger than I am and she has only just finished her masters degree, so she has actually been studying this and has loads of interesting ideas that she has researched. I can barely get on board with a Kindle so some of these wacky ideas are a bit much for me, but some were really interesting.
We began by talking about The Appeal by Janice Hallett which I am actually really keen to read. This is a mystery novel that is made up entirely of emails, articles, reports and evidence and the reader pieces together the events to solve the mystery.
Then we really broke out the crazy and she told me about thise woman who wrote a whole book in the snow and took photos and posted them on Instagram. Obviously, once the snow melted, the only record of the story is the photographs.
My colleague then told me about the story she created for her final project at university and I have asked her to bring it in so I can read it because it sounds so cool.
Basically, she created a box full of random items that were actually all connected by her story. To access the story you had to scan the QR code on each of the items and then you could read the individual parts of the story online.
She’s lost the box but she still has the QR codes so she is going to let me have them and then I can read the mystery. And she’s kind of inspired me to have a go at writing something that is not traditional too.
6 thoughts on “writing a truly unusual book”
Those are really innovative ways to tell a story, Rachel. I’d never thought of doing QR codes before. I’d guess for a lot of younger people, it’d be a familiar thing. For older folks, though, not so much. Now I do like the idea of a telling a story in an epistolary way; I’ve read several novels that were partly epistolary. So I can more easily see how that’d work. I think it is good to be open to new ways of storytelling and new approaches. I know people, for instance, who tell their stories online in serial form. Subscribers then get a bit each week or month or whatever the cycle is. It’s a lot like a magazine, but just online.
It feels a little bit like we are going back to Dickens’ times, but with the internet – if that makes any sense at all!
Those sound interesting. One time I played with the idea of a novel told entirely in letters back and forth between two pen pals in different states, or possibly just from the perspective of one of the pen pals. I never got very far on that, although eventually the idea evolved into a traditional (mostly finished but unpublished) short novel about pen pals. (Well, that one isn’t exactly traditional because the chapters alternate between the character as a young adult and the same character about 20 years later, but still…)
Yes, I love books that have letters in them. I don’t think I’ve ever read one that is entirely made of letters though.
For me, The Never Ending Story rates as the most unusual format for a book I’ve encountered, with text in red, and in green.
Oooo I’ve never thought of writing in different colours. My brain is now sparking with so many ideas!