Imagine if, at the start of A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens had written:

1) It was the best of times, 
2) it was the worst of times,
3) it was the age of wisdom, 
4) it was the age of foolishness, 
5) it was the epoch of belief, 
6) it was the epoch of incredulity, 
7) it was the season of Light, 
8) it was the season of Darkness, 
9) it was the spring of hope, 
10) it was the winter of despair

Click on an option.

I’ve yet to find a multimedia publication that’s engaged me as much as a book, a radio play, a film or a TV programme. The problem is non-linearity. A good story draws you into its own world: to jump out to watch a video or listen to an audio clip brings you out of that world.  And to be faced with options breaks the spell.

I’ve been mulling this over for years now, back to when I used to dabble in HyperCard on a Mac, and since those days, articles such as this crop up from time to time:

Storytelling: digital technology allows us to tell tales in innovative new ways.

When the iPad came out, even I thought that, at last, the time of the interactive novel is at hand. I’ve looked at a few contenders, but my point is still the same. As a reader, I don’t want choices, I want to be absorbed in your story, lost in your tale. Beginning. Middle. End.