Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fake Journal Month and Meta-Fiction

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International Fake Journal Month is an event sort of like National Novel Writing Month, but instead of completing a novel in a month (does anyone know someone who’s actually accomplished that?), participants create a fictional journal for the month of April. Often these journals have interesting stories going on, and incorporate sketches and other artwork chronicling the (fictional) authors’ life.

I’m a junkie for any kind of meta-fiction or “in-universe” publication, like the fake websites promoting Star Wars Episode II (which purported to be a news site from the Star Wars version of the Internet, the Holonet). I also have a “the lost journal of Indiana Jones” published in 2008 by Simon and Schuster, Inc. as a merchandised item for Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. In both cases, the “in-Universe” or meta-fictional items are more entertaining and interesting than the movies that they promote.

Another popular form of meta-fiction is the Alternate-Reality Game, or ARG. In this type of game, reality blends with fiction, as the participants hunt for fictional clues in the real world, calling phone numbers and even going to real-world locations to get more clues. Oftentimes ARGs turn out to be forms of viral marketing for new films or products.

Maybe, in our information-dense universe of the 21st Century, meta-data or meta-fiction has become the hallmark genre of our era. Of course, there are plenty of examples of meta-fiction from the past, such as the Necronomicon of H.P. Lovecraft’s horror stories. And sometimes, this meta-fiction is taken as reality: I’ve met individuals who honestly believe that the witch-cults and Necronomicon are real, and that Lovecraft was documenting, rather than inventing, his unnamable horrors.