Thursday, June 17, 2010

The phenomenon of Japanese Cellphone Novels – They become Best Selling Novels, Have Movie and TV drama adaptations

Following on from the movie review of Koizora. Koizora actually started off as a cellphone novel that became a published novel, then a movie and then a TV drama followed.

So what is a cellphone novel? A story that is written through a number of text messages over a period of time. It can be subscribed by millions of readers. Koizora, had more than 20 million subscribers to the cellphone novel. Quite an astonishing number for a story told through SMS.

In 2007, out of the 10 best selling novels, five of them were originally cellphone novels. What is more amazing is the top 3 positions were occupied by first time cellphone novelists. Cellphone novels are pocketing sales that more experienced authors could only dream of. Initially, cellphone novels were dismissed by critics for its poor literary quality. However, due to its domination and success in mainstream literature the critics are silenced, and some say that cellphone novels should be classified with Manga and popular music.

It seems anyone can get in to writing cellphone novels, with over one million cellphone novels already listed. Cellphone novelist can type out their story on their phone anywhere: on the way to work or school, or whenever they have a short break. A lot of successful cellphone novels are love stories, written in the first person. When reading a cellphone novel it reads like a diary.

There is a lot of appeal in cellphone novels. You have to remember that you can’t fit a lot of information in a single SMS, so very simplistic language is used to tell the story. The simplistic language makes it easier to understand for the young generation in Japan, who find works by professional writers too difficult to understand because they use wordy or cryptic expressions. The text messages contain little plot or character development compared to traditional novels. Therefore, Cellphone novels have parallels to the popular graphic novels (manga). The phenomenon and success of cellphone novels is all due to a generation whose reading habits consist mainly of manga and use their mobile phones more than their computer.

I think the world will catch on to Cellphone novels because we use and rely on our phones more each day. It is an exciting new medium for story telling. I’ve decided to start my own cellphone novel to see what it is like. It’s called ‘Wilting heart’. You can check it out on twitter @wiltingheart or the blog:

I find writing the cellphone novel really appealing because I don’t need to dwell over details. I just need to write what is happening really. It’s quite a different experience. You guys should check it out and let me know what you think.

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