Monday, October 01, 2007

Phoning it in: The newest way to write a novel?

Just saw this eyebrow-raiser at The Wall Street Journal online:

TOKYO -- When Satomi Nakamura uses her cellphone, she has to be extra careful to take frequent breaks. That's because she isn't just chatting. The 22-year-old homemaker has recently finished writing a 200-page novel titled "To Love You Again" entirely on her tiny cellphone screen, using her right thumb to tap the keys and her pinkie to hold the phone steady. She got so carried away last month that she broke a blood vessel on her right little finger.

It's not even her first novel. She's written eight novels on her cell phone, and has serialized them on the internet. But that wasn't the most surprising thing in the article. Apparently these little, uh, phone books are wildly popular. And take a look at this:

Many mobile novels are influenced by comic books the young writers grew up reading. That means lots of dialogue and really short paragraphs that fit nicely on a small screen. Huge empty spaces between sentences can convey that the characters are deep in thought.

Which encourages the reader, I suppose, to fill in some of those blanks with thoughts of her own. I can see how that kind of interactivity would catch on. And this sounds like much more than just a new format for novels. It appears to be a new form.

The trick is to envision a movie screen inside your head and translate those images into words, says Ms. Nakamura, the housewife with the sore pinkie.

Please share your thoughts in the Comments.


Becky said...

Could you imagine being under a deadline, and having to 'type' with your finger on a tiny little phone pad and read it on that tiny screen? I'd go insane! Of course, I struggle with plain old text messaging!

Kristi said...

a newer way to develop carpal tunnel!!! :)

Okay, seriously, I'd make myself nuts with the one-finger typing routine. I'll stick with my laptop, I think. :)

Beth K. Vogt said...

I'd never make my deadline because I am slow, slow, slow when it comes to texting on my phone . . .

but I give her kuddos for being creative and thinking outside the box when it comes to writing a novel.

Shelley said...

I honestly don't know how she can do it! I do know that over here in Asia (at least in Korea, and I would assume in Japan and other countries here as well), cell phones are extremely popular that all the kids have them, all the adults, and everyone in between. They are always on their phones or typing away at text messaging. It's really crazy - crazier than in North America.

I just got a cell phone here recently and I haven't gotten the hang of text messaging yet. I watch the Koreans and they just type like crazy - with one or two fingers/thumbs...I really don't know how they do it.

I highly doubt I would or will write a novel on a cell phone. No, give me a computer any day - and if that fails, a pad of paper and a pen.

Shauna said...

Ridiculous. Crazy. Perhaps it works for her, but I just can't get my head around it. *shrug*

Anne said...

Okay. Maybe I'm jealous. Maybe I'm mean. Maybe I'm both.

It's interesting PR, a great gimmick and probably not a great book (or books).

What's even scarier is that her audiences' literary tastes were shaped by comic books.

I think I'll go get under the bed now.

Brenda Coulter said...


At least those people are reading and writing. It's a start, right?

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

(thud as jaw hit floor)

Still waiting for mouth to snap shut again...

Pinkie is twitching.

Lay-la's sister said...

WEIRD. VERY, VERY WEIRD. I don't think I could do it. Now give me a Well, if they'd pay me a million bucks, sure.

Six-figure advance, sure.

5-figure? No thanks.