One of my favorite story-telling conventions in TV and film is text messaging.
During the most recent season of Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None” on Netflix, Ansari’s character, Dev, frequently interacts with his love interest, Francesca, via text message.
No words are spoken. The only noise is that of Dev’s phone chiming out incoming text message alerts.
I enjoy reading these exchanges. They’re as important to advancing a credible plot-line using technology as the big block cell phone was in “Miami Vice” in the ’80s or the use of email by Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail” in the late ’90s.
I enjoy these exchanges so much that I’ve recently turned to chat story apps Hooked and Tap. These apps have been around for a while, but have been gaining momentum as readers and writers look for new, inventive options for storytelling.
Here’s a look at both:
Hooked. According to the app description, Hooked wants to “make reading snappy, spooky and fun.” Each story is told through short text messages. Imagine reading a conversation by looking through someone’s chat history.
Rather than long, novel-length tomes, these stories are purposively short.
The free version of Hooked gives you limited “hoots” or taps of the screen to advance the story until you either pay to receive unlimited access, or wait 30-plus minutes until Hooked “recharges” your hoots.
Subscriptions for unlimited hoots range in price from $2.99 a week to $7.99 a month or $39.99 a year for premium access.
Tap. Tap is an offshoot of the social-story-sharing platform Wattpad.
Whether it’s horror, romance, suspense, science fiction or a category referred to simply as “Funny,” you can load new stories to fit your mood.
My recent favorites in the “Funny” section are “Cat Warfare” about fighting cats, and a story about a blind date with Tom Hanks titled “Mr. Hanks” (think “You’ve Got Mail” on text messaging steroids).
Like Hooked, you simply tap the screen on your mobile device to advance through the story.
Tap stories range in length of time to read – from about a few minutes to more than 10. If you’re looking for a quick story, I got through “Mr. Hanks” in about two minutes.
You can write your own chat stories, share them, and build an audience by asking readers to give feedback and share your stories their friends.
Also like Hooked, you’ll have limited free access to Tap stories unless you subscribe. The subscription rates for Tap and Hooked are identical.
If you get “hooked” on the free versions of Tap or Hooked, consider a subscription. If you’re a prolific e-book reader, and you’re looking for stories to fill the in-between-books time, it’s a good investment for endless reading.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about communication and relationships, parenting and sports. He writes a weekly column for The Vindicator newspaper on social media and society.