Galatea by Emily Short is a piece of elit consisting of text only. The piece looks like a word document of some sort, where you type in commands for the main character to decide what he should do. There are many possible commands, and there is possible to see a list of them all if you are in doubt of what to do.
The story consists of our main character, a man who is reviewing an exhibition of statues. It appears one of the statues breathe, move and is able to speak.
In Galatea the conversation between the man and the statue is explored. Through the commands, the reader decides what the man should think about or say to the statue. There are many conversation topics to choose from, but many of them seem to be about the statue and how it came alive, the man who carved it, or mythology. In a way, the topics seem connected to each other. Every conversation topic is also possible to just think about. The third thing we can do is to ask her to turn towards the man or for the man to touch the statue (for example her hair or shoulder). There is also the option of walking away from her, particularly in the beginning before they get to talk much to each other, but this ends the story. If one starts over, the statue will remember you walked away the last time (and thank you for not doing it again if you choose to stay and talk to it).
Every command seems to have a preset response or outcome. Nothing seems to be at random here. This means that though there are a long list of available commands, the outcome is limited. The whole elit is also centered around the man’s conversation with the statue, so when the conversation ends the elit also ends.
I really like the concept of Galatea, and it does feel like a text-based game in some ways – which I liked. However, everything feels very limited because of how the whole story consists of one conversation, you have a pre-made list of possible actions which all only seem to have one response.
The way the elit is made out I think only makes it more clear how limited the story and its outcomes are. And although I really, really like the way it looks and how the reader interacts with it almost like it is a text-based game… I am unsure of how much I actually liked the elit itself. All in all though, it is worth checking out.
Update on the development of my own elit
The second half of my blogpost will be an update on how I am progressing with my own elit. The last week I have been working on expanding the story and putting it into inklewriter, as well as mapping out the last part of the story – which I will soon start putting into inklewriter.
When I first started making my own elit I was going for the same story, but with poems only – where random words where clickable instead of giving the reader choices. This would have been much easier for me to create, but would not make as much sense for the reader. This would also have made the piece feel less interactive. Therefore the reader now gets to make choices throughout the story. For every choice made the reader first gets a consequence or event that happens, then a poem that kind of explains the event more in depth before a new choice. If this is the best way of doing it I am not sure, but I have grown to like it.
As this elit describes someone’s life, and lets the reader make choices for the person’s life, I had to start coming up with the actual choices (and what they would lead to). Before even beginning to map out the story I had over 20 little poems written with this elit in mind. Doing it in this order was a bit difficult because I had the poems and partly the order they would go in partly figured out – but not the choices. Some people would say the choices should have been made first because they are the leading element of the story – and I partly agree. But in my elit the poems are almost more important than the choices – and therefore it is fine by me that they were created first.
I still have a few issues with the design of inklewriter and how it works. Though, to be honest, I have not been googling or watching tutorials that could be helpful yet. This is because I at first thought it would be best to finish the story, mapping and choices first and then go back to “polish” everything. Now, on the other hand, as the story has so many branches and paths I kind of wish I would have looked into these issues a bit earlier. The main problem is that I cannot get the four lines of the poem to be on a line of their own without being a paragraph of their own, and as most of the text consists of poems… Let’s just say I need to find a solution as soon as possible.
Aside from the smaller issues, I think I am on schedule and will done with my elit in time. Right now I just need to finish mapping out and make sure I have the poems I need to finish all the paths – and find choices that make sense along with their consequences. I would say that at least half of the story is already in inklewriter though, but we will just have to wait and see where it feels right to end the different paths. A few paths are already done, but most still need more work.
All in all, I am on schedule with my elit piece and enjoy working on it – I feel motivated and inspired. Due to all the paths, working on it now takes more time since I have to go back and see which choices were made for the reader to end up at a certain place for each addition, but I think I can manage.
Stay tuned for my next blogpost!