As we delved into the process of determining what form our digital fiction would take, we quickly realized that we needed accurate vocabulary to be able to talk about the individual units of the story (“units” was quickly shunned for being impersonal, too industrial, perhaps). In conversation we would use words such as “scene,” and other language borrowed from film. However, we found that film-inspired language can’t accurately describe digital storytelling.

The language that we use when we discuss our work can impose limitations on creativity so it was important that we find a way to discuss our work in the most accurate terms we could come up with. When we talk about “scenes” we automatically think about the story in linear terms, rather than as a parallel structure that doesn’t necessarily place restrictions on how the story should present.

Likewise, when we talk about a “reader”, “viewer”, “player”, or “user”, each of those words implies something about the work itself—primarily language-based, primarily visual, participatory, and…drugs?

While we started off talking in terms of scenes, we quickly switched to using “moments” to refer to the units of the The Last Cartographer. “Moments” doesn’t bring with it the presumption of a strict linearity and sheds the comparison to film. “Moments” also feels more story-like than “units” and implies an experience. This language switch allows for more flexibility when we imagine how the story can be “read”. But that’s a language problem for another day…