Monday, February 15, 2010

Avenues of Expression

Yep, I changed the blog again..back to black. The last color setting was a bit too cheery. This feels right, and so does the banner.

I have been working on "digital storytelling" --- something that is being used a bit by language arts teachers to encourage their students to express themselves using technology. It could be something as simple as stringing together a bunch of pictures with music or dialogue, or it could be producing video or mixing other media. Frankly, I think it's a high-falootin' term which some folk use to justify expression in lieu of the self-discipline and patience necessary to sit down and write a work of fiction, or to read something, for that matter. Most digital storytelling is passive, after all. Watching something produced on "movie maker" is akin to watching a show on t.v.

Here is a short video on the topic...

All this being said, we shouldn't be too quick to dismiss the digital storyteller. Perhaps what we need to do is step back and consider some of the potential. What if we separate, for a moment, broaden the role of writer and give him a few more hats. Why not make digital storytelling a form of performance art that incorporates all manner of medium.

Here is an example. You buy a book at a store, or download one online. You read a chapter and at the end of the chapter you are encouraged to log onto a website that is a companion piece for the book. Logging onto the site and registering triggers a sequence of activities. Perhaps you can watch video of a backstory for the characters of the novel. Or a program, depending on responses you give on the website, has one of the characters in the novel call you at home or on your cell phone. This would be a voice recording, of course. Or perhaps you would start receiving email from that character.

Interactive novels have been done before. Most of them have been for young adults, based on role play games, with a question at the end of a chapter: "Do you open the door? Then turn to page 35. If not, read the next chapter. Sort of a computer program model. Still, it raises the question, are there other methods of stepping outside the printed page and the traditional reader-writer relationship?

Watching the above video, you probably thought: "But all they are talking about is a form of  'show and tell', a multimedia narcissism. They're just slapping an old concept with a new term because it now has a technology component. True. But that doesn't mean there aren't pathways for the writer to explore as another form of expression, or better yet, a way to promote one's work. In the next few weeks I'll be putting up a small promo for "The Ravening", for instance.

There are many wonderful avenues for expression as a way to promote and complement one's writing. I say why not have fun with it and try and explore the possibilities?


Sullivan McPig said...

An interesting concept.
I myself am a roleplayer and I must say that I'd love for something like this to be used to interact with other readers.

stu said...

In theory, mixing media seems great. In practice, it strikes me as difficult simply because the media require different ways of thinking, and finding one person who can do so many of them brilliantly is difficult.

Jon said...

This is one of those things that, ten years from now will be as quaint as my fifty year old 8mm attempts at Harryhausen-like claymation. Having said that, I'd do it in a minute.

For all of that Stewart, if you want to borrow my voice for your promo, I'm in. Okay, I'm not the baratone I was before the chemo, but hook me up with a sip or two of high quality bourbon and I'll sound as spooky as you want. I can hear it now, "In a world gone mad, the soul stalking virus waits to claim its next victim..." No, wait...that's the trailer for the unrealeased Ed Wood movie, "The Ravening Plan from Outer Space."

Rick said...

Too bad we have jobs that tie up so much of our time, or we could really get into this.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Sully, I love the idea of using it in a role playing game. I would love to create something to use online and draw in my players into an experience. Maybe I can try something like this during the summer when I have something resembling a semblance of time.

You are correct, the issue is how it is executed and the ability and vision of the person who is doing the creating. But then one can say the same thing about writing.

I will keep that in mind. Thanks.

Time is always the issue, isn't it. Fortunately, over the last two years, I've been working on all this technology stuff through college, so I think I'll be trying this as a form of expression. I will at least be giving it a go as a form of promotion.

Anonymous said...

Anthony Zuiker came out with his digi-novel late last year. I blogged about it a bit:

Apparently, it made the New York Times bestsellers list.

willow said...

There are so many exciting venues for creative expression available now.

Yes, the atmospheric black is perfect.

L.A. Mitchell said...

This may also open up screenwriting to those who wish to commit something more to the project.

Bernita said...

I really like the banner. Classic.