Frank Fiore – Novelist & Screenwriter

April 10, 2011

Transmedia Storytelling – What’s it all about?

Filed under: CyberKill,On Writing — Frank Fiore @ 10:39 AM

Alison Norrington has an excellent article on FutureBook detailing the concept and promise of transmedia storytelling and points to how TrapDooor Publishing is using the concept for its Books 3.0 technology.

Here some of the best quotes from the article.

The basic premise of transmedia is that rather than using different media channels to simply retell the same story, you utilise these channels, their communities and functions to communicate different elements of the story.  Its success relies on fragmenting a narrative and making each platform do what it does best which, in turn, extends the life and longevity of the story.  Contrary to some thinking, this practice isn’t device-driven (Kindle, Nook, iPad), but is platform driven as it is the platform that subtly dictates and influences audience reactions, social & behavioural trends and user experiences.  The bottom line is that with a solid transmedia strategy in place everything remains connected by the same central narrative and theme, but each channel excels at what it does best, rather than bending to fit a central idea that’s being repurposed for multi platforms.

Norrington gives some good examples of what transmedia storytelling is and is not.

It doesn’t mean Vook.   (Although to use Vook as an element of a full 360 transmedia novel is definitely viable).  It doesn’t mean Enhanced Editions (although once again, these guys offer a legion of expertise and solid, exciting platforms and concepts in adding elements to a larger transmedia strategy).  It doesn’t mean Lulu, Blurb or CompletelyNovel (but they offer options – which is what transmedia likes)!  Transmedia isn’t DailyLit or Keitai.  It isn’t YouTube, Babelgum or even SecondLife.  The truth is, transmedia isn’t any one of these, but at the same time, can embrace and utilise all of them.

The best description comes from Andrew Savikas.

“The bigger issue I see is that thinking of the problem as “how do we get a textbook onto an iPhone” is framing it wrong. The challenge is “how do we use a medium that already shares 3 of our 5 senses — eyes, ears, and a mouth — along with geolocation, color video, and a nearly-always-on Web connection to accomplish the ‘job’ of educating a student.” That’s a much more interesting problem to me than “how do we port 2-page book layouts to a small screen.”

The money quote for me is this:

Publishers have already begun to embrace the notion of transmedia by casting off those expectations we’ve grown up with – that a story is… text on a page, actors on the stage, special effects on the screen or a narrator reading. In our digital and connected world it’s now a natural step to dictate how we want our stories; whether we want to read, listen, watch or ‘do’.

Norrington goes on to say that “Not every storyworld will work as a transmedia novel, but as accessibility opens doors and presents new options, transmedia will open the gates for enhanced experiences, deeper levels of immersion and a host of options for those lean-back and lean-forward moments. In a nutshell, to receive your stories in the way that you want them! ”

That’s what is exciting to me and what Trapdoor Publishing is seeking to do with Books 3.0 with my novel CyberKill being the first Books 3.0 of its kind.

In other words: The value of a good story remains and is vital; the question is will you prefer to read, listen, watch, or do?

My next post will show examples of ‘read, listen, watch, or do’ in my upcoming CyberKill 3.0 release.

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