There’s nothing more obnoxious than that writing teacher who loves to talk about their own work in class. It smacks of something desperate, but in the creative writing for new media course I teach at the University of Iowa I confess I do share some of my work with my students, shamelessly. Yes: I’m that guy. My intention is never to show off the bells and whistles of my new media thesis (though I confess I do derive some joy from showing them the possibilities of the form. Look, kids, music! Text effects! Interaction!) but rather to investigate intimately, critically, and honestly, the still-nascent craft issues that one runs into when diving into the deep end of new media writing for the first time, an experience I attest can quickly become overwhelming.

It’s useful to approach the production of my first online project, IN SEARCH OF: A SANDBOX NOVEL together with my students first – speaking as a traditional writer with no coding skills and very little new media know-how – in order to give them a crash course in the problems that may arise in their own work very soon. I’m able to articulate precisely the kind of things that most traditional writers need never concern themselves with, for with new media not only are you dealing with the traditional trappings of storytelling (dialogue, setting, scene, point of view, etc.), there is an entirely new galaxy of problems: visual, kinetic, and aural components to consider.

So, consider this your crash course. If you’d like to play along, visit Click on the ‘first time reading’ link at the top. Take some time to explore, or don’t. When you’re done, come back here. All the myriad problems on the checklist will soon make sense, and in the end either you’ll be won over by the potential of new media lit, supremely frustrated, or just plain unimpressed. In any case, here are some problems you may or may not encounter when it comes to new media writing. (Here are the problems I definitely encountered while writing IN SEARCH OF.) Continue reading