Last weekend I attended the Willamette Writers Conference in Portland, Oregon and there were some great speakers who really helped open my eyes regarding the nature of the media and publishing industry today.
One such speaker (Luke Ryan) gave a terrific presentation on what he termed ‘transmedia’ and the need for writers to think beyond their ‘box’ (be it novel writing or screenwriting). He defined the term ‘transmedia’ as (and I paraphrase) ‘a narrative built across multiple platforms that grows exponentially with little repetition of content’. In other words, as writers, we need to be aware of all the different forms of media that could carry pieces of our narrative/story and which engage audiences in their own unique ways. We are in essence world builders and, as such, given the current state of the media and publishing industries, we need to think ‘outside the box’ if we are to grow our brand/story and readership.
Makes sense, right? It’s also pretty daunting when you think of all the media platforms available. For writers like us some of the key media platforms might include things like:
- Graphic Novels
- E-book ‘shorts’/or serialization (see Jim’s post yesterday)
- Graphic Novels
- Social Media
- Audio books
That’s a vast array of options for a writer but the key message I took away from Luke’s presentation is that we need to consider our work across these forms of media and identify ways in which these other elements might factor into building the ‘world’ we have created in our novels.
The other key message I took from Luke’s presentation is that this does not mean merely reproducing or repeating content across various forms of media – because readers are hungry for fresh, unique content. An author should therefore look at their work across a continuum of media opportunities. You might have written a thriller but then produce a series of unique e-book shorts that focus on a minor (yet intriguing) character within that book. You might also work with a graphic artist to produce a series of graphic novels that involve stories from the main protagonist’s past. In each of these different mediums you are producing new content which nonetheless feeds into the core story (your thriller).
After listening to Luke’s presentation I was both excited by the myriad of possibilities for my own work and also (I admit) overwhelmed by them. However, I learned that, as writers, we must always be thinking about unique opportunities to bring readers to our stories, to rise above the ‘noise’, and to provide great, unique content that supplements the main stories we write. So I wanted to ask all you TKZers, how do you envisage tackling a ‘transmedia’ platform for your own work? Too overwhelming or are you already ahead of the curve and have a ‘transmedia’ plan of attack?