I have carefully divided multi-pathing from braided multi-pathing. A multi-pathing narrative shape is one in which several parallel stories will be presented without those stories directly interconnecting. The reasons for this may be that the audience will be travelling through the same physical spaces or the same series of events through the eyes of different characters, or the same character through different events, or perhaps even the audience is meant to compare and contrast these different lives and/or events. A number of books have already experimented with this such as The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder [Wil27] or even Bleak House by Charles Dickens [Dic52]. What distinguishes digital media in the use of this form, besides just the addition of sound or moving images, is the degree to which the parallels can be made.
The online hyperfiction, Delerium by Douglas Cooper [Coo95], makes powerful use of a multi-pathing shape. In four paths we have the story of the main character in the present, the main character in the past, the story of his biographer, and the story of one young woman who ends up having a significant impact on his life. The audience is free to move from path to path, but the paths remain absolutely unique. This structure enhances the building tension when in the final chapter all paths finally converge, so that the audience can see how they have all been pointing to this one dramatic moment.
Copyright © 1996, 1998, 1999 Katherine Phelps