With braided multi-pathing the focus is less on parallel development and more on how lives and events can repeatedly interconnect. I felt less secure about this shape than others I had discovered when I first assembled my story shapes. I could imagine such a shape, I could imagine such a shape being a useful way to approach a story, but I did not have many obvious examples. Interestingly, upon suggesting this shape to the class that I teach in writing for digital media, most chose it as the shape for their projects. Braided multi-pathing proved fruitfully suggestive of many stories which could fit within it.
With the braided multi-pathing shape an initial situation is given which then branches out in a number of thematically related plot directions which subsequently converge upon another situation that then again offers a number of directions to choose from. In this manner it is still possible to build dramatic tension, give the reader a feeling of free movement, and yet even with that free movement provide a seamless story experience. More significantly, it makes the work compellingly repeatable. Most CD-ROM experiences and much hyper-fiction tend to encourage a one time experience. Once the audience has solved the puzzle, there is no reason to go back and do it again at a later date. Well executed braided multi-pathing, such as 24 Hours With Someone You Know by Philippa Burne [Bur96], provides the audience with a framework that they may discover they enjoy, and then makes it possible to uniquely repeat the experience.
Copyright © 1996, 1998, 1999 Katherine Phelps