Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Simple Model for Transmedia Narrative

From Narratology:

Last night James Curcio, manager of Modern Mythology, and I had a fascinating conversation about transmedia: the challenges of creating it but especially the even greater challenge of getting people to fully commit to the storyline(s).
The traditionally episodic Star Trek television franchise compared with the much more coherent development of Battlestar Galactica is a step in the right direction, but I wondered afterwards if transmedia content might actually benefit from a more episodic treatment, at first, since that’s what people are more accustomed to.

I wanted to add to this. The point I was making is that in shows that are developing plot arcs over the course of seasons, along with the episodic plot arcs, you have a model that can lead right into a closer understanding of how transmedia works.

Consider each episode a unique item: whether it is a novel, a comic, a DVD, a website with an inherent narrative strung together of text and video, or even a twitter account doing the same.

This item must stand on its own to an extent, because it may be the first, or even the only item that a user interacts with.

From here you structure long plot arcs which move from one of these items to the next. Over ten years, say, you produce 3 books, 2 albums, and a movie all based within the same world. Perhaps the progression can be chronological, as it often is in series such as BattleStar Galactica. But time needn't be the the transition point from one piece to the next. It could be a shift of focus from one character to another. It could be different planets in a Sci Fi transmedia mythology. The only limitations that exist come from the creativity of the creators and audience, as well as their mutual commitment to the work.

There is a non-linear through-path, as the user may interact with different items in the web at different times, even if the items themselves follow traditional linear storytelling methods.

I do not mean to imply that this is the only way to look at transmedia, or that this is an entirely unique perspective on it. It is simply an easy way to understand how transmedia differs from, for instance, adaptions of the same story in different medium.

Not to spoil any secrets but this is also, by the way, the framework we have used in the creation of Fallen Nation: Party At The World's End, the 404 Documents, Bradley The Buyer's album "Used Using People," and the Fallen Nation bandcamp. (Which itself contains 3 albums worth of material.) Citizen Y is also partially tied into these myths in a similar way, while being a bridge to the Graveland mythic cycle created by Foolish People.

For my part, I look forward to continuing to explore such possibilities, and I hope that many of those who have picked up some of this work have realized how much it all ties together.

[Check out some of the books, albums, and soon movies produced by Mythos Media and our various media partners.]

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