Hypertext fiction or poetry consists of text components that can be rearranged by the reader or read in a nonlinear or multilinear manner. Normally it takes the form of text sections--known as nodes, lexias, or (on the Web) pages--linked in complex networked structures rather than in the hierarchical arrangements found on typical Web sites. Since any one node can be linked to many others, different readers can follow different routes through the same work. Some hypertext writers bypass the usual node/link system in favor of other electronic mechanisms that allow nonlinear reading.
The earliest work in the genre began to appear in the late 1980s. Eastgate Systems is the most prominent publisher of hypertext literature on disk, and recently the genre has begun to flourish on numerous literary Web sites. For more information about publishers and authors, see the Word Circuits Directory.