Hypertext fiction

From LitWiki

Hypertext Fiction is a genre of interactive literature that uses hypertext links to direct the reader into sometimes complex passages throughout a story.[1] These hypertext links can also lead the reader to analogous images. Some hypertext fiction stories are scripted in a fashion that allows the reader to have a different encounter each time the story is read. [2]The reader does not follow a continuous path, but, instead, experiences the story on an interactive basis, as one trying to solve a puzzle or follow a map. The reader is given links to explore, creating a new experience when new directions are chosen.


Hypertext Fiction began circulating in the late 1980’s via floppy disk through a small community of writers, before the existence of the World Wide Web. [3] The author considered to have written the first hypertext fiction literature is English Professor Michael Joyce of Vassar College. The title of this piece is called, "Afternoon, a Story"[4]. These literary works were first available on disks and then later put on CD's.

In the 1990's, hypertext fiction declined. One reason for this decline was that the writers that published these online literary works were not computer tech savy. Also, for the reader, reading off of a computer monitor was not an enjoyable way to read. Not only was the reader was confined to his desk reading off a monitor, the resolution on the monitor was not easy on the eyes.


From the story "24 Hours" by Philippa J Burne

Trams clack past; cars jerk by, stopping, starting. The street is a mixture of dirt and slick. Sculptures sit on corners and hang over shop doors. Posters fill their spaces on pillars and walls advertising bands and readings and political action. Cafes and clothes racks spill onto the pavement, immersed in car fumes. Locals with somewhere to be weave past tourists gazing into shop windows; learnt stares of contempt meet glances of curiosity. You wander through it all; wonder about Jess. For two or so blocks you absorb the street without seeing, then get sucked in, you start looking, to be interested. To shop. You pass a "bookshop", a "candle shop", a "cafe" , a "shop full of flowers".

“Sunshine 69” by Bobby Rabyd

“Twelve Blue” by Michael Joyce


Hypertext fiction pieces were written using such softwares as Cosmic Book and Storyspace.[5] These softwares were designed for the sole use of creating and navigating hypertext fictions. Almost all hypertext fictions are written in the HTML language. HTML allows the story to be displayed in the browser with correct formatting. Links are used to direct the reader to choose the path and direction of the story. HTML is the standard markup language used to create web pages.


  1. O'Connell, L. (2012, March 21). Hypertext Fiction. Digital Narratives Through the Reading Glass. Retrieved April 10, 2014, from http://diginarrate.net/2012/03/21/hypertext-fiction-by-liamorourke/
  2. Montecino, V. (2002, May 1). What is hypertext?. What is hypertext?. Retrieved April 11, 2014, from http://mason.gmu.edu/~montecin/hypertext.htm
  3. Johnson, S. (2013, April 14). Why No One Clicked on the Great Hypertext Story | Magazine | WIRED. Wired.com. Retrieved April 11, 2014, from http://www.wired.com/2013/04/hypertext/
  4. Basaraba, N. (2013, October 23). Examples of hypertext fiction - how to write hypertext narratives?. Nicole Basaraba. Retrieved April 10, 2014, from http://nicolebasaraba.com/examples-hypertext-fiction-write-hypertext-narratives/
  5. Hypertext Tools. (n.d.). Hypertext Tools. Retrieved April 14, 2014, from http://www.hypertextkitchen.com/Tools.html