I have always been keen on providing interactive elements which help readers immerse themselves within a story. For both For Those In Peril On The Sea, and The Outbreak, I created Google Earth layers which allow the readers to explore the real world locations where these book are set. I’ve also toyed with the idea of presenting stories within a series of linked locations within a Google Earth layer, although I’ve never got round to actually writing one. This is, in part, because the reader could still read the story while sitting on their sofa in front of the TV, and what I really wanted was something that would make people actually visit the locations where a story was set as they visit it.
This is where a newly released app called Traces comes in. Traces allows you to virtually tag locations and plant text, photos or videos there. You then send out the information to other users of the app, and they can then read whatever you have left for them. However, and here’s the twist, they have to actually visit the location with their mobile device in the time period you specific before they can see it.
For me, this opens up a huge world of possibilities for writers which would allow them to provide interactive content in a way that really hasn’t been possible before. For example, writers could plants parts of a story in the real world locations where they are set, and tell the reader which order to visit them in. This would mean that the reader is visiting the locations themselves as they are reading the story. Similarly, rather than text, you could provide audio files which the reader could listen to while viewing the sites where the story takes place.
This wouldn’t work for all types of story, and might work better for short stories rather than full length novels, but if done properly with the right ones, this new app has the potential to allow readers to interact with pieces of writing in ways that would never have been possible before. In addition, with the time sensitive element, it would be possible to do things like provide a new chapter of a book each day which could only be read a specific locations of your choosing. There’s also an interesting potential of bringing readers together in one place while they read your work, allowing them to discuss it with each other, so bringing strangers together through their shared love of reading the works of a specific author.
This would require some effort in behalf of the reader, and not all would-be readers would be up for it, but for those that are the experience could be truly gripping. This is, of course, all in theory, but I think it’s a technology that worth exploring because of the possibilities that it offers for writers to interact with their readers in a new and unusual way. All I need to do now is give it a go and see if it works quite as well in practice as it seems like it should in theory.
From the author of For Those In Peril On The Sea, a tale of post-apocalyptic survival in a world where zombie-like infected rule the land and all the last few human survivors can do is stay on their boats and try to survive. Now available in print and as a Kindle ebook. Click here or visit www.forthoseinperil.net to find out more. To download a preview of the first three chapters, click here.
To read the Foreword Clarion Review of For Those In Peril On The Sea (where it scored five stars out of five) click here.