The materiality of the intangible: Literary metaphor in multimodal texts

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Based on a larger practice-based research project in digital writing, this paper examines how the materiality of digital media contributes to a layered metaphor that delivers meaning, reflects on the cognitive processes (the writer’s and the reader’s) of navigation, and generates a dynamic narrative structure through multimodality, unnatural narration, and user interaction. Many writers and artists engage with their chosen medium through an instinctive understanding of the materials at hand, gained through experience; the explicit study of a medium’s materiality is not always required for artistic success, however that may be judged. This paper offers insights into the creative process of creating digital, multimodal fiction, based on a practice-based research project designed to explore the effects of digital media on author and text, and argues that digital media have a significant effect on the outcome of the artifact itself. Awareness of these effects, their variations according to hardware and software, and the affordances of these various materials offers the digital writer greater insight and capability to craft his/her texts for the desired metaphorical meaning.


  • digital writing, Multimodal Composition, unnatural narration, digital fiction, materiality, composition cognition, interactivity, navigation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-147
Issue number1
Early online date21 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019

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