“Your Place and Mine” by Nicci French Review
A digital story with two authors
By Anthony Kwan
Imagine acquiring the superhero ability dating coaches dream of—mind reading the perspectives in a relationship. The digital story “Your Place and Mine” by Nicci French is a psychological thriller that illustrates two different perspectives in an intimate relationship. Nicci French is in fact a hybrid of two people: Nicci Gerrard and Sean French who narrate the relationship of two co-workers named Lawrence and Terry over a span of five days, each writing an hour long. As the story unfolds, Terry becomes too attached to Lawrence; however, Lawrence does not reciprocate similar feelings for her, leading to an unexpected turn of events. Although the plot may seem straightforward, the main ideas are inadequately presented due to the obscure format.
The creation of a story by two authors depicts a high level of difficulty for the reader. Since the digital story is presented in a live-time sequence, it can be challenging for the reader to interpret both Terry’s and Lawrence’s thoughts. Nicci French’s digital story makes the reader not only uncomfortable, but also encounter extreme measures to understand the story. The split screen style of the blog consists of two authors writing in tandem tracks of dialogue. This visual reading format creates a sense of discomfort for readers who are normally used to a traditional story telling style. Personally, I would prefer an individual author writing a traditional narrative, which facilitates accessibility to the thoughts of the main characters.
Likewise, from a reader’s point of view, the natural approach to read this story is by alternating the dialogue between Terry and Lawrence, which disorients the readers because of the gaps involved. To moderate this challenge, the format of the dialogue can be individually presented, without breakages back and forth, thereby the two different perspectives would be better presented for the reader. Reading the thoughts of each character without having to jump between two columns would improve the flow of the reading experience.
Concerning the technical page layout, the navigational tools appear to be substantially outdated and frustrating. The story itself is presented in five links that cause navigational inconvenience for the reader to maneuver and connect the pieces in the storyline. To negate the navigational issues, I suggest the format to be offered as an archive; therefore, readers can scroll through each day instead of managing five window tabs. Similarly, in the conclusion of day 5, French frustrates readers by providing an obscure additional link with critical supplementary information on the outcome of the relationship, while at the same time not providing the reader with a focus or sense of directions. The link “Canal Body Identified” was defective with unprocessed pictures and unfinished articles (French). For example, if the link is faulty, the reader will be prevented from making connections back to the main story.
However, if I had been involved during the initial live process and witnessed the character’s day by day disclosure of their thoughts and feelings when it was first published, I would consider the digital format innovative and had been more engaged. Certainly, the digital story incites curiosity, specifically with respect to the suspenseful titles demonstrated under each link of the days. For example, the forming of the titles conjugates into a sentence that exhibits “something’s begun the morning after it was all going so well but then…” (French). This ultimately intrigues the reader by foreshadowing not only a deteriorating relationship, but also the deaths in the newspaper article based on the storyline. With technological advancements, the format of this passage can be improved upon by resolving for its technical fallbacks. Since the digital story contains suspenseful titles and a black, mysterious background, the tech-savvy reader visualizes the digital story as a captivating type of story telling. While the message of the story is perceived through both characters’ emotions, I learned that love can bring the best out of someone, or it could be regarded as dangerous and cause a person to execute actions out of the extraordinary.
French, Nicci. “Your Place and Mine.” 11 April 2008. We Tell Stories. Blog. 6 February 2017. <http://www.wetellstories.co.uk/stories/week4/>.