The popularity of SMS or text message novels has risen steadily over the past few years. Why not tell stories over text? It makes for an exciting adventure in which one can interact with the story in real time. Take Brianna Hayworth, who writes sci-fi stories, for example. All of her stories appear on Hooked—an iPhone application that allows any person to create—and read—any written work composed of texts, with back and forth banter of the lead and supported roles.

I recently published a novel online that is an actual SMS interactive one. It’s an example of how you can use SMS to recreate a world where vampires roam the neighborhoods, and the main character Elena eventually becomes vampire, but the reader might get to make that decision, thanks to SMS live author feedback. Some people are taken aback by the technology aspect, but why? We read messages on our phones all the time, and it’s really not that difficult!

How SMSM Text Novels Work

Author writing SMS novel via text
Author writing SMS novel via text

Thousands of other authors are following suite. There are about 25 other SMS interactive novels on SMS Novel, where my story, Supernatural Lovers is currently online! They range from historical novels, to fiction, autobiographies, and more! It’s a way to really get your work out there without having it actually sit on a bookshelf forever, taking up space.

Ever wanted to read, but decided to use your cellphone instead to do so? This is no different. The reader begins by combing over one story, then pushes a huge “Next” button to go on with story. It’s simple and gratifying. For one author, Gupta, her finishing rate shot up 85 percent. Upon the app opening last fall, Gupta has published 9,000 stories, with the high ten garnering an impressive 100,000 reads.

In SMS novels, each role player is in a different location physically, so their reactions are different (“LOL, I’m in church and the pastor is really boring.”) In addition, the SMS live author can adapt a story to the individual reader (Elena opens the door and smiles warmly as the dinner begins) making a more creatively unique “play-like” scenario. In addition, each character’s role can change depending on the decisions made by the reader (who plays the main character in the play or novel).

Supernatural Lovers by Magdalene Cramer
Supernatural Lovers by Magdalene Cramer
Supernatural Lovers by Magdalene Cramer

For instance, in “Supernatural Lovers” the reader may decide she chooses not to bite a girl at the supermarket, thereby changing the ending of the story. This forces the characters to not move to Ohio, for example, and start their own business in Florida. Additionally, the main character (that is, Elena) might choose to not go to the Count’s home and, therefore, never changes into a real vampire and doesn’t experience a personality change that annoys those around her and makes her more volatile and sexual.

The author of the live SMS text, that is the live author rather than the original author, may choose to introduce a different scene, like adding a dinner scene or a romance scene. There is no limit to what can happen and variable for change. Not everyone may have time to read the whole story, as was the case with my friend who only got through half. Then it was 9 pm and it was game over. But plenty of others got through the story and enjoyed playing Elena. She moves to different states and countries, befriends a mysterious woman, and even maintains relationships with her current set of housemates. But maybe you don’t want to maintain those friendships, or maybe you have it set up in your mind that you want to bite someone of a different race or gender. Anything can happen because the main decisions are being made live, like a play! So try your hand at acting and give SMS novels a try. You may be shocked to learn you have an aptitude for everything it offers.

Have you ever read or written an SMS text novel? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.