Changing Landscapes: A Multiverse of Transmedial Storytelling


 2 of 3 Part Article

In Transmedial Readership, (the first of a three-part series on Changing Landscapes in the world of publishing), I took a look at the evolutionary progress of the modern-day eBook from its 1940’s humble (HES) electronic beginnings as a means to record the work of Catholic philosopher>theologian Thomas Aquinas, to its use as a way of sharing large amounts of text within the educational community.

In wasn’t until the late 90’s, early 2000’s that we saw this PC monolith of data transfer evolving into an embryonic hand-held device which would eventually morph into a AI that responds to voice recognition and allows its user to down load @4GSpeeds books, magazines, games and movies, access the internet, read PDF files as well as import>export those last minute>out the door>I forgot to send the statistics the boss needed 30 seconds ago.

Then I took a look at the predictions of the early 2000’s in regards to the viability of these handheld book readers, and concluded that the greatest giants to be slain at this present time weren’t the consumers, but rather the twin peaks of Author and Publisher on the Mt. Olympus of Literature, where change for the sake of change doesn’t come easy. From there I concluded that with an ever-increasing readership demand for “newer>better>faster” ways in which to partner with the writer’s, producer’s and designer’s of today’s storytelling, there is now a natural impetus for author’s to relook at how they will develop story content, as well as explore what other forms of media are available in order to bring the purveyors of  sensory interaction into the best experience possible.

So What is Transmedia?  

In an interview with Neela Sakaria, SVP @Latitude magazine, transmedia creator Andrea Phillips said that a true transmedia project is one that involves audience participation, which in turn means they will have to seek out and find multiple layers or pieces of information in order to understand the entire story. 

The Producer’s Guild list its Credit Guidelines for  “transmedia” as a project which “…must consist of three or more narrative storylines existing within the same fictional universe on any given platform: film, television, short film, broadband, publishing, comics, animation, mobile, special venue, DVD>Blu-ray>CD-ROM, narrative commercial, marketing rollouts and other technologies”.

In other words, there has to be a collaborative effort of three or more forms of media being used to tell the same story within the same platform. An early example of this would be L. Frank Baum‘s 1900 novel,  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Mary Shelley’s 1818 classic Frankenstein,  both of which were presented to the public on multiple platforms or layers of media (book > play > movie).

So What is Storytelling? 

Wikipedia  tells us that storytelling is a means by which mankind has of conveying events through words, images and sounds, which in turn are a part of every cultures means of entertainment, education and cultural preservation, endued with the power to instill moral values.  In his interview with fastcocreat.com, Gottschall said that he believed that fiction was more effective at changing the way a person believes about something than any writing that was specifically designed for that purpose.

 WhenRobert Pratten of Transmedia Storytelling was asked why people tell stories he said, “We tell stories to entertain, to persuade and to explain. Our minds do not like random facts or objects….we naturally and often subconsciously connect the dots…in a… stimulating way we call stories. Great stories win hearts and minds.”

Jonathan Gottschall, author of “The Storytelling Animal” states, “….story is the most powerful means of communicating a message…..People are moved by emotion. And Peter Guber, Studio Chief at Columbia Pictures and author of Tell to Win, says, “The best way to emotionally connect other people to our agenda begins with “Once upon a time…”

So Why Use Transmedia in Storytelling?

In a gathering of creative individuals hosted by Electronic Arts in 2003, Henry Jenkins, a Provost Professor of  Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Art at the   USC Annenberg School for Communication and the USC School of Cinematic Arts noted in an article he wrote for Technology Review ,  that transmedia>multi- platform or enhanced storytelling as they knew it,  was on the cusp of undergoing significant changes and that those changes would mean an entirely new way of ‘doin the tellin’.

Those present stated that they saw a future where the masses would no longer be satisfied being told stories on a one-dimensional plane such as watching a movie or reading a book, leaving the theater or turning the last page, and be satisfied that what they have just experienced was all there is and there is nothing more.

People today have evolved from hunter>gathers on open grass lands   to hunter>gather’s on the internet, and they take “great pleasure…uncovering character backgrounds… plot points…and… making connections between different texts…”  It’s no longer enough just to read or watch a story from a one-dimensional aspect. Audiences now want to have an opportunity to enter into the story and participate in both its development as well as being able to decide alternate endings.  It becomes a case of where the whole is now greater than the parts.

By combing multiple layers of media in the development and publication of EBooks, authors can now take a story which began as an arrow through time and folded it back upon itself in complex layers impregnated with texture, depth, emotion and visualization. No longer do our characters move from point A to point B solely dependent upon their creator’s narrative abilities as the primary means by which the reader enters into and experiences the story.  By apply multiple sensory applications the story now becomes a collaborative partnership between the author, the characters, the reader and everyone else who has contributed in creating an experience that moves everyone beyond the land of cardboard cutouts and into the realm of interactive>inter-dimensional> transmedial adventures.

In the third and final part of this three-part series I want to zoom in on what transmedia storytelling is doing for EBooks and how Amanda Havard, first time author of the Urban fiction “Survivors“ and entrepreneurial genius behind Chafie Creations and the development of Immersedition, is taking the world of literary experiencialism to a whole new level.

From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer

SSpjut

Changing Landscapes:Transmedial Readership


Transmedial Readership

Part 1 of 3 Part Article   

What began as a technological search for better and faster ways to record and share information in an educational format that would be equitable for as many users as possible, has now become a multi-billion dollar, multi-media frenzy of looking for newer>better>faster ways in which to engage and entertain a readership that is evolving almost, if not faster, than the technology that spawned it.

The basic DNA of e-books began as an electronic index and concordance to record the works of the Catholic philosopher>theologian Thomas Aquinas. But as with all things technical (or otherwise) the early progenitor of digital formatting began its natural evolution by growing legs, developing gills and eventually finding its way onto the landscape of the late 1990’s – early 2000’s,  where it emerged as the first recognizable sub-species of our current day Ebook.

And as with all things which evolve by way of ‘survival of the fittest’, the emerging technology for knowledge and entertainment is being viewed, culled and gone over much like the livestock my father choose to purchase for the farm I grew up on. Only those devises which hold the best possible traits for future economic advancement will be kept. All others will either be passed on to less competitive merchandisers or left in the 50% off reader’s bins to be recycled in whatever way the seller sees fit.

Within a matter of just under seventy years, the progression from pre-historic HES (Hypertext Electronic System) to Apple’s iPad>Amazon’s Kindle Fire has meant not only a significant change in the way reader’s have begun to pursue their intellectual entertainment, but how that entertainment is going to be presented as well.

On January 01, 2001 Wired magazine published an article by Kendra Mayfield on the future of e-books in which she interviewed Roland Laplant, chief marketing officer for Xlibris (a self-publishing>print on demand company). His prophetic comment about the then approaching future of e-books was, “Ultimately e-books will eclipse paper books. It’s just not convenient now…. There needs to be a lot of change in actual consumer behavior for that shift to occur.”

In that same article senior analyst E. Yegin Chen, of Eduventures.com was quoted as having this to say about the consumer’s of the gradual evolving technology of digital reading, “The retail consumer market is not quite ready for e-books yet…E-book vendors need to improve the reading experience to obtain significant adoption rates.”

While O’Brien from Forrester Research had this to say; “….With limited content, inadequate reading screen resolution and differing formats, e-book devices will fail to find a mass audience.”

As predictive as all three of these gentlemen were about the need for change, what they failed to either foresee or comment on, was that ultimately it wouldn’t be consumer’s who would need to change their behavior, but rather, the battle for change would come from the Mt. Olympus of literature its self; the peaks of Author and Publisher. Two of  the biggest giants in the land who (in my opinion) are not only those most affected by this juggernaut of technological driven consumerism, but who are also the two most resistant to change for the sake of change.

All change, be it literary, social or political requires an ability to let go of the familiar and embrace, by faith, a new way of thinking and doing that is neither predictable nor safe. It means embracing ideas and concepts, that for many us who grew up during the Baby Boomer era, threaten our belief in the traditions of our ancestors that held onto: “if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it”. And I’m afraid there are still many authors and publishers that don’t want to fix, what in their point of view, isn’t yet broken.

Every since people like Martin Luther stood up and challenged the way in which the written  word was produced and made available, mankind has been forging a pathway towards creative expression that will in inevitably rise up and confront that which tries to hold onto and control the reins of the printed (and now digital) word. There will always be those individuals who will want to challenge the status quo, engage the Goliaths  of the land and topple them with the stones of; creativity, individualism, expressionism, consumerism and just plain chutzpa.

In an article for the Washington Post in December of 2009, staff writer Marion Maneker wrote a piece entitled “E-books spark battle inside the publishing industry” in which she made this observation; “Publishers can no longer be vast containers of intellectual property distributed in paper form to bookstores, supermarkets and warehouse clubs. But they don’t have to be: They can become highly selective distributors to bookstores, supermarkets and price clubs. That’s the lesson of the television, music and movie businesses.”

I think the same argument can be used for authors as well; the time for viewing the written word as a sacred shrine of literary prose that will strike down all those who try and approach its oracles with anything other than our four hundred and fifty years of printing tradition, is over.

Not only is the e-book technology biting at the heels of the publishing world, but in many ways it has taken hold of the pant seat of authors too. In today’s ever emerging readership, it is no longer enough just to spin a good yarn or weave an ‘edge of your seat’ thriller that allows the reader to engage their imagination as part of the journey. Today’s technology is fast becoming the impetus for the way in which a writer develops their story content as well as the media  they want to use in order to bring their reader’s into the best possible experience of that story.

In the future (if not already), authors will need to decide whether to stay with text>alone storytelling or to step off the map of their literary forefather’s and begin sculpting complex ideas that require a more transmedia approach. Will the story they want to tell be interactive or will it require nothing more from the reader than a rapid eye and finger movement as they go from one textual page to the next? Or will it be created in such a way that the journey from page one to page two hundred and seventy five be given multiple scenarios and alternate endings? Or will it lend itself to embedded sound tracks, multi-verse formatting and off world overlays?

In my recent blog The Flux Capacitor I talked about the possible dangers of moving away from the written word and embracing a lifestyle where what we read and see can be neither touched nor put on a bookshelf to admire, and as a result we flirt with the possibilities of one day losing the resources and abilities to pass on to future generations the history of who we are. Interesting that in the process of writing that blog I discovered an idea that made me go back and rethink my previous viewpoint.

Next blog: Who’s ‘Doin the Tellin’ Now? > Part 2 of 3 Changing Landscapes

From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer

SSpjut

Changing Landscapes: A Multiverse of Transmedial Storytelling


Changing Landscapes: A Multiverse of Transmedial Storytelling.

Guild Hunter Series: The Review


Guild Hunter Series; Nalini Singh; Berkley Publishing Group, New York, NY archangels legion with shadow

This is another one of those authors I happened onto via Patricia Briggs via Ilona Andrews in the Angels of Darkness anthology. But unlike the duo writers of the Kate Daniels series, this author kicks some series hinder parts all on her own. She also tweaks the bejesus out of my angel theology. I’m not Catholic, but if I were, I’d be tempted to run to confession after every book. And not just for the blasphemy against angels…the hormones between these heavenly beings and their earthly counter parts are anything but immaculate.

All that aside, Singh does a great job with suspense and character development. And we all know what a freak I am about character development…and hers are good. So good in fact that I even like the bad guys. It’s probably the reason I got past the first book – what with stomping all over my religious upbringing and all. Just sayin…

In the Guild Hunter series one of the main characters, Elena Deveraux – vampire hunter supreme – is pitted against Archangel  Raphael, an arrogant bad boy who our heroine cuts down to man size bites. By the time Singh gets done telling her readers about the heroine’s personal and professional conflicts, the reader has a pretty good idea why the Bible says that the ‘sons of God’ hooked up with the ‘daughters of Eve’. If the angels pre-flood were anything like those in the Guild Hunter series, you could understand why.

Dear Lord have mercy….

Singh also does a different take on the whole vampire thing which I found interesting. It’s hard to come up with a new twist on something that has gotten more author mileage than a Michelin tire.

As for the rest of the series…can’t wait till her newest novel, Archangel’s Legion tags my bookshelf next month.

On my reader review scale of 1-5 stars, I’m giving Hunter Guild 3.5 stars for just good reading, and 4 stars for tweaking with my head.

Witch Wraith: The Review


15743711Witch Wraith; Terry Brooks, 2013; Del Ray

Number Tres in Terry Brooks trilogy “The Dark Legacy of Shannara”, is by far the best of the three. Like fine wine, Mr. Brooks has saved the best for last and we salute’ him for it.

There are some books that I have read in one sitting because they were short, fluffy stories that required very few brain cells to digest. Then there are others that I’ve read in one sitting because they were just that good, that I didn’t want to put them down. I must confess ‘Witch Wraith’ is one of those books. Fact is, I took an afternoon off from my own novel just so I could finish it.

But as I reached the end of the last paragraph and closed the cover there were several things I realized;  Terry Brooks has no problems killing off the majority of his characters (hero and evil bad guy/gals alike) and the end of the story is seldom if ever neatly tied up in a bow.

Fact is I’m never really sure if I’m happy or sad when its over.

It’s not that he leaves you hanging or wondering what the outcome is, the quest is always achieved and the mission is always accomplished. But at what cost? And was the price paid worth the endeavor?

And that’s the real question he asks throughout all his novels, especially in this trilogy: Does the means really justify the end? And the answer is….

So even though I was a little disappointed, okay, a lot disappointed, with the first novel “Wards of Faerie”, “Bloodfire Quest” and “Witch Wraith” have more than made of for it.

On my readers scale of 1-5 stars I’m giving “Witch Wraith” 4 stars for being just an all around great story.

Sanctus: The Review


Sanctus; Simon Toyne, 2011; Harper Collinssanctus

Sancti Trilogy: There are times  when searching for new authors that I find myself reading a series out of sequence and this was one of those times.  My first discovery of Toyne’s work was when I picked up  “The Key;” the second novel in the Citadel series.  Which in turn meant that if I didn’t like it I wouldn’t be wasting my time going back and reading first “Sanctus”. Happy Accident that I liked  the second book so well I got on the library waiting list for its predecessor.

Now I know I have a tendency to compare good writing with good food, but the truth of the matter is their similarities are worth the mention. Just as the evidence of a really great chief is as much about the ingredients he or she uses to prepare a dish as it is the dish itself, so it is with an author. If the characters are not interesting, if the backstory, action, and suspense aren’t used in the correct proportions, if the whole is not blended together well, you’ll only get a good story – not a great one. And Simon Toyne, in my not so humble opinion, has written a great story – one on a parallel with Robert Ludlum’s Bourne series. Might even make a great movie.

His third in the series, “The Tower” is due to be released in June. And yes it will be on my list of MY READ NOW!

On my reader scale of 1 to 4 stars, Sanctus get 4 stars for being a great read.

Interview with Simone

Fire the Sky: The Review


8872989Battle for America: Fire the Sky; W. Michael Gear & Kathleen O’Neal Gear, 2010; Gallery Books

Fire in the sky is the second novel in Gear & Gear’s “The Battle for America” series. Just as with the first book “Coming of the Storm”, the authors have done a remarkable job of drawing this reader into the social, political, spiritual and geo-agricultural life of the Native American Indian. And even though the book is a fictional archology of the history and  culture of Indigenous Americans during the time Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto and his mercenaries landed in Central America, it is never the less a great historical read.

By creating characters like Black Shell and Pearl Hand who,  as nomadic traders,  would have had inside knowledge about numerous tribes, their politics, trade, geographical terrain and cultural differences, Gear and Gear  have woven a very credible story. My only complaint is that historically, it is depressing to realize that it was simply the Native American’s ignorance of Spanish iron and horses that became the crippling force behind de Soto’s unstoppable success: that and the fact that he just flat-out fought dirty.

Another aspect of Gear and Gear’s authorship that I appreciate is the way they centered the conflict around the spiritual beliefs that would have been indelibly embedded within both the Native American and Spanish culture. Not because I think every novel needs to have that factor within it, but in this case its important to realize how integral to the overall story it is that both cultures were, and to some extent still are, heavily influenced by their spiritual beliefs.  If we remember our history, one of the greatest religious persecutions in antiquity finds its roots in the Spanish Inquisition, and therefore important to the overall justification of conquer and conquered, that de Soto and his mercenaries would have felt while massacring thousands of people who did not worship or perceive the spirit realm in the same manner as themselves. In their minds, any race that wasn’t Catholic would have been considered devils, demon worshippers, and therefore deserving of subjugation and death.

On my reader scale of one to five stars, I’m giving “Fire the Sky” 3.5 stars for overall story, and 4 for historical integrity.

Dragonstar: The Review


176254Dragonstar: Barbara Hambly, 2002; Del Ray

Reader loyalty, in my not so humble opinion, is one of the greatest weapons an author can have. Beside putting money in their pocket, loyal readers hold an authors reputation together during those times when brilliancy seems to have left the building and all they are left holding is a bag of good ideas and respectable prose.

It also gives them a much needed anchor from which to be able to redeem something that might need redeeming; like the third book in Barbara Hambly’s Winterland series – “Knight of the Demon Queen“.

So it was with immense relief when, no sooner had I reached the end of the first page of her fourth book, “Dragonstar”, that I knew all my trepidation over whether  I’d have to put it down or not, was in vain.

Within moments, all the things I so enjoyed about the first two novels were found within the first paragraph of this one. The authors dedication to character revelation; her commitment to scenes that moved the plot forward without losing the reader in mind numbing details;  her ability to make us empathize, relate, and compare our own challenges with those of our beloved hero’s – all there. All woven into the fabric of a story that once again leaves us with just enough resolution to make us feel warm and fuzzy, without smothering us in the afterglow.

In my reader scale of 1-5 stars, I have to give “Dragonstar” 4 stars.

Knight of the Demon Queen: The Review


Knight of the Demon Queen: Barbara Hambly, 2000; Del Raybooks (3)

If I had not enjoyed the first two books in the Winterland series as much as I did, I would have put this one down after about the third or fourth page. But loyalty is the game, and with that in mind I tightened up my reader belt and made a commitment to read the third book all the way through it to the end (with only minimal page skipping).

So what was it about #3 that I found so difficult to get through?

Just about everything. From a lack of good character development, to story line, to world shifting. Maybe if Hambly hadn’t jumped off planet and tried to incorporate a twisted version of Earth-hell into the story, I might have not been so turned off.  But she did, and because of it, I found myself continually checking ahead of where I was to see if the nightmare would ever end.

Not a good reader sign. It felt like she’d invited me out to dinner at my favorite restaurant, only to discover that the menu has been completely altered;  instead of serving my favorite Lobster Cannelloni, I was handed  a plate of spaghetti (and you can ask my mother, I hate spaghetti) and a bottle of cheap, l0gonberry wine. It takes everything in you to keep from getting up and walking out.

But on a shelf across the room, sat the fourth book in Hambly’s Winterland series, and given that I had complete confidence that she could redeem this thing, I stuck it out.

On my readers scale of 1-5 stars, I gave “Knight of the Demon Queen” 3 stars.

Elder Wisdom Needed


I love Lynne’s wit and candor, particularly about aging and whether to do it gracefully or full tilt ahead. I’m for the full tilt ahead idea…but that’s just me.

Any Shiny Thing

I humiliated myself, but it wasn’t my fault. It was the fault of my elders, who play things so close to the vest.

One day when I was in my mid-fifties, I was having lunch with friends who are twenty years older. We were discussing a very elderly couple in our writing group. The husband was 90, the wife 85. They still wrote and published, and were incredibly vibrant. “They probably still have sex!” I said.

My friends were appalled. “Well, why wouldn’t they?” one asked.

But how was I to know? Who talks about the intimate details of life in the oldest years?

Okay, now I get the sex thing, but here’s what I really want to know: how do very senior peeps deal with mortality? I apologize for sounding stupid; yes, I DO in fact realize that I, at 58, could go any minute. I’ve almost “gone” three…

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