Upon hearing about Cell Phone Novels for the first time, most people come and ask me what are they, how are they different from a regular novel and if, by any chance, the key element that makes them different is the fact that they are written from a cell phone. The answer cannot be simple, as it involves a mixture of factors and components to be able to define one such piece.
First off, Cell Phone Novels (CPN) are a literary genre, which originated in contemporary Japan. Its name came indeed from the use of cell phones, since they were first written on Japanese cell phones, in the form of multimedia email messages, which were then sent around to other people (mainly to the friends of the writer). They seemed to be a really practical form of writing and reading, too, as they could be written from basically anywhere and read in only a couple of minutes, for example, on the way home.
It all started with Yoshi, a young man who began writing short chapters on his cell phone, which he later emailed to his circle of friends. Later on, these chapters gained popularity, as they continued to be spread around and forwarded from friends to friends of friends. Ever since, the genre gained more and more fans, in the form of both readers and writers, and continued to expand, turning into a real movement.
Japan was captivated by it. A site emerged, a new place for writers to share their works with their readers. From cell phones, they moved, more or less, to the more comfortable computers. Nevertheless, stories could still be written and/or read from cell phones, as it made it easier for their scribblers to update and create, as well as for their readers to catch up on the latest chapters. What was even more of an attractive side of the cell phone novels was the fact that people could keep their identities hidden and write under pen names. They could all bet their writings on spontaneity and improvisation, as no planning was required for writing these novels. Writing on the go, as I like to call it.
The publishing market was pretty much invaded by cell phone novels. And that wasn’t even all. Aside from the apps and the sites where people could write and gain a bigger readership, contests would also take place. Winners would be mostly based on the popularity of their works, which was given by the number of fans, comments and votes they would get, but the writing quality was also a must. The prizes included publishing contracts, too. Pretty attractive, no?
From here, a cell phone novel, based on its popularity once on the market, could even be reborn in the form of a TV series, a movie or even as a comic book and animation (also known as manga, and anime respectively).
A new generation of writers was born. Amateurs with grand dreams. Aspiring authors with great hopes. Most of them were only high school students, often expressing very personal, emotional and controversial topics. They were all reunited under the magical roof of what cell phone novels were: an attraction for a creative mind.