Originally Posted by Andrew Hussie, creator of homestuck
What effect do you expect this stream of images to have on a person reading through the archive as opposed to waiting?
mspadventures responded -
The longer I do this the more I'm struck by how radical the difference is between the experiences of reading something archivally vs. serially, both for the reader, and the author if he's prone to sampling reactions frequently as I do. For the reader especially, I think the experience of day to day reading is so dramatically different, they might as well be reading a different story altogether.
The main difference is the amount of space between events the reader has, which can be filled with massive amounts of speculation, analysis, predictions, and something I guess you could call "opinion building", which can have both positive and negative effects. On the positive side, these readers become more closely engaged with the material than archival readers can be, zeroing in on details and insights which might be overlooked otherwise. On the negative side, I think that excess mental noise the space between pages allows can potentially be a bit suffocating, and put a strain on the experience the material was intended to deliver.
The archival reader always has the luxury of moving on to the next page, regardless of how he reacts to certain events, and thus can be more impassive about it. That internal cacophony isn't given time to build, and if there are reservations about a string of events, whether due to shocking revelations, or questions over the narrative merit of something, or really any form of dissatisfaction, all he has to do is keep clicking to see how it all fits together, and can make a more complete judgment with hindsight.
The recent pages had me particularly conscious of the nature of serial delivery. The whole scene was rolled out over the course of a weekend, first with ______, then ______. When ______ dies, this registers as one extremely dramatic event. Cue the waiting, speculating, worrying and all that. When ______ dies a day or so later, it registers as a second dramatic event! Again the scrutiny begins which the space allows. Is this all too much? How do I feel about this narrative turn? Is this setting a trend for a bloodbath? Does that serve any purpose? The reader projects into the future, does a little unwitting fanfiction writing in his head, and may not like what he sees! All this activity becomes the basis for opinion building, which is sort of the emergence of an official position on matters, good or bad, which is only able to flourish in the slow-motion intake of the story. That official position can be a very stubborn thing, especially when it's negative, and seriously textures the way additional developments are regarded. It's really hard to shake a reader off an entrenched position on a matter, even when it was formed with an incomplete picture.
Reading the same events in the archive is quite different. Very little of that inner monologue takes shape. And while the events are still shocking, and the reader may raise his eyebrows a mile high, he then simply lowers them and keeps reading. In fact, because of the reading pace, I would suggest these two deaths actually register as only ONE DRAMATIC EVENT! One guy snaps and kills two characters. In the flow of straight-through reading especially, it is quite startling, tension-building, and can only serve to propel the reader into further pages, at a pace which suspends the experience-compromising (augmenting??) play-by-play.
But like I've said, I don't think one way of reading is necessarily better than the other. Both have plusses, and obviously I choose to make this serially, and I play off plenty of in the moment reactions. But I tend consider the archival experience more, because when all is said and done, this thing has to sit on a server for years to come, waiting for new people to find it.