If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this Instagram-based novel is going to be one hell of a tome. By combining the stunning imagery that often comes along with the photo-sharing app with its caption capabilities, one author-slash-photographer is going to new lengths to emphasize that “slash.” One Instagram post at a time, Rachel Hulin plans on slowly releasing a 200-page novel. Just think of it this way: It’s like the modern-day Dickens-style release of Great Expectations. No pressure, Ms. Hulin.
While social media has previously been leveraged for the excruciatingly slow release of a longform piece of literature (Matt Stewart did it 140 characters at a time for his debut novel on Twitter), this will be the first time that Instagram is used for such a purpose at such a large scale. And whereas it’s difficult to follow several thousand tweets, Hulin’s idea to pair her novel with Instagram photos may create a rather captivating, more mature picture book, giving her audience a visual representation of the world she’s imagined in Hey Harry, Hey Matilda.
The novel tells the story of Harry and Matilda Goodman, 30-something-year-old fraternal twins who hail from New England. Their relationship is portrayed through a series of their correspondences with one another, and makes use of other digital media as well. Matilda, who is an artist, has a website, which also plays a key role in Hulin’s story telling.
“For years I worked as a photo editor, pairing images with text, and I’ve always felt that images enhance text,” Hulin told Wired in an interview. “I also love telling stories in a serial way, slowly introducing characters to readers, having them become involved and start to comment and further the story— I think the interaction of readers really enhances the telling of a story.”
Thus far, the novel (which will take nine months to come to fruition) has been well-received by fans, who may even be able to play a part in determining plot twists and endings. “I could totally see adapting parts of the story as it progresses — unfurling it slowly lets me rethink certain passages and amend them slightly,” Hulin noted. “It’s like a long, slow process of editing, with pictures.”
So start following the Hey Harry, Hey Matilda Instagram account. Because this is much more than just a series of pictures.