Fiction enables us to see new places and explore new points of view. Stories can be both short enough to fit in our lives and substantial enough to give them meaning. I make Chronicle because I believe we can sail the world while we wait for the bus.
The Value of Short Storytelling
The original short story
Way back in 1846, Edgar Allan Poe wrote an essay called The Philosophy of Composition, in which he defines a good story as one that takes “a single sitting,” and that any story longer than one sitting better have a good reason. I think this is a great metric, but the problem is the definition of a “sitting” has changed dramatically recently. The rise of the smartphone has caused us to slice our time up into smaller chunks.
By most definitions today, a short story can take up to an hour to read. This is absurd and doesn’t fit with our lives at all. You should be able to read fiction with distractions. You should be able to read it without breaks. You should be able to read it on your phone. Chronicle’s stories are all five minutes or less, and most of them are quite a bit shorter than that. The value of a story comes not just from its content, but its respect for your time.
Now, you might have some doubts about how much impact a story can have if it’s so short. What if I told you that this format has been around longer than written word? Music proves that stories can be both short and substantial. A song is about 3 minutes long and can transport you to a new place, mood, or experience.
Not all songs are stories, but countless examples exist of narratives in music: The Arctic Monkeys, The Hold Steady, and LCD Soundsystem are a few of my favorites. Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016 for his songs. Music has the power to show us new places, to connect people, and to help us deal with difficult topics.
Sail the world
We can sail the world with fiction as our boat. In a story, we are explorers, adventurers, astronauts. We are circumnavigating the globe for the first time. Fiction lets us map the unknown. It inspires us, challenges us, and helps us understand our own world. It teaches us about ourselves.
Fiction unites us
Fiction has a special ability to unite us. Social and news media today reaffirm the beliefs we already have, but how do we make sure that those beliefs are true to us? By challenging them. Testing our values can be difficult, but it’s a critical part of living in a society. Fiction lets us remove ourselves from difficult topics. It lets us see both sides of an issue, others’ points of view as well as new versions of our own. It fills that critical role of testing our values.
Chronicle is Fiction that Fits in Your Life
Short stories for our short schedules
We have a ton of great stories in Chronicle, and a big part of my job is to make sure that our authors’ work shines. The interface of the app is secondary to the stories. Little details here and there, like seeing your top Highlights in your profile, are there to help you find new stories to read. My personal favorite feature is Minutes; I like to call it the fastest way to read. Just tell us how much time you have with a fun little slider, and we’ll give you a random story.
I made Chronicle because I could never find time to read. Chronicle makes it easy to read during those little moments we find throughout our day. I love hearing what impact one of our authors’ stories had on your day, or that it got you to read a book for the first time in a while.
Fiction for everybody
In addition to portability, Chronicle is a great way to find new fiction. Buying in to literature can be intimidating. As the saying goes, you can’t judge a book by its cover. You’re pouring a huge amount of your time into something you might not even enjoy. Chronicle curates a variety of high-quality fiction so you can discover new styles and authors. If you like a story on Chronicle, you can read a Playlist in the app, share it, or try one of the author’s books.
A social and visual medium for a multimedia era
One of the ways the smartphone age has evolved our expectations is the rise of visual storytelling. I’m a visual guy, so I love this trend. If a picture is worth a thousand words, you can tell the same story in two different ways. Playlist covers are one of my favorite parts of Chronicle, and they’re a way for illustrators to be a part of this new storytelling platform. I love working with outside artists on a new cover; the different mediums complement each other in a way that multiplies their stories.
I make Chronicle because fiction brings us together. I believe a story can be both short and substantial, and that it can teach us something about ourselves. I believe we can sail the world while we wait for our coffee to brew. Chronicle is a platform for artists of different mediums to come together and tell their story. It got me to read again, and it might just do the same for you.