The Line Between Reader and Author

Typically, when reading novels, the reader is a bystander to the events occurring. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the reader has no control over what is happening in the novel. When Dave Morris formatted his version of the story, he chose to give the reader a bigger role than he/she normally plays; he decided to incorporate the reader as a main character.

The reader is allowed to advise Victor Frankenstein and make decisions about what happens next. This concept is foreign to most readers. This communication between reader and characters makes the book more interactive and entertaining. I found that while I read the app, I was more interested in what was happening than when I read the paper version.

However, there is a pressure that accompanies this enjoyment of reading. The guilt that readers normally observe the characters feeling is now projected onto the reader him/herself. I was personally affected by the app version of the story because of this uncommon connection between me and the main character. I felt guilty because the directions I guided Frankenstein in impacted his future, sometimes negatively.

With this power comes responsibility. The future is no longer in Shelley’s power, but both Morris’ and the reader’s. This rise in interactivity has both its positives and downsides. While the reader can feel more involved, the pressure from deciding the character’s future can weigh a person down. With the world becoming increasingly reliant on technology, the readers of the future may read more on apps than in paper. More books may switch to this hands-on format where the reader decides the actions of the plot. The readers are essentially secondary authors of the books. If technology continues on the path it is currently on, could every reader eventually become an author?

7 comments
  1. I agree that the app version of Frankenstein is much more interactive. Rather than merely observing the story as Frankenstein tells another person his tale, the reader is directly engaged in a conversation with Frankenstein. I think this is a very innovative approach to story. However, I don’t like how this method of presenting the story changes Frankenstein’s persona.

  2. I think you’re making some interesting points about the interactivity of the app, Rebecca, and the role that it forces the reader to play. But I think we could argue just as much that we are responsible for creating most of the stories we’ve read this semester. Most of us would say things about Ophelia that we would find hard pressed to actually find in Trethewey’s poetry.

  3. You are right Rebecca. The app brings you closer to the story and puts the reader in the position of the character. I hope to hear what people think on the readers becoming authors. Personally, I think that authors cannot be replaced or duplicated and there will always be a fine line between an author and its readers since we do not possess as much knowledge as someone who created book in the first place. What I am also wandering is why do we have to create app in the first place?

  4. I agree with what you have said about the different tabs in the app. It does make us more involved in the story, but it also takes away from the original story as well. In the original text we hear all about the books the monster is reading and about the background of the different characters. In the app, the reader can choose if he or she wants to read and that changes the book as well.

  5. I agree with what you are saying to a certain extent. Yes, the fact that the reader must make decisions makes him/her FEEL more involved in the novel, but in reality this isn’t the case. Morris already wrote both versions of the story, and the reader is merely picking which one to explore. In a sense this gives us more control over the outcome, but it is important to realize that the reader’s influence is limited. Therefore, in my opinion I think it is a bit of a stretch to say that the reader transforms from a reader to an author.

  6. Rebecca, I think you did a great job analyzing how the interaction of the ‘app’ book changes the role of the reader. As you stated in your blog, the reader has become a main character as Frankenstein engages in conversation with him/her. However, I do not fully believe that the book needs to be in an interactive form in order for the reader to feel like he/she is responsible for certain decisions. When we read paperback books, we often draw further conclusions about a character even if it is not explicitly stated in the text. That is the beauty of the book, to “read between the lines”, to further understand the hidden message or discover pieces of information that the text does not formally state.

  7. I enjoy the fact that I get to experience Frankenstein’s story in first person point of view while being able to experience the monster’s story in second person point of view as well. However, I do agree with you that the app sometimes give me a sense of guilt, and there are many times I hope I had chosen other options than the ones I picked. I would wonder what would happen if I click on another choice, and it makes me feel responsible for the characters in the story. In general, I think the app makes the reader “closer” to the story, and I cannot stop reading it.

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