Transmedia Writing

Stories told across multi-platform media environments — or transmedia stories as they are commonly called on the edge — require more complex writing. A story unfolds across diverse media with readers/viewers opting in to each layer.

At the same time, as writers we want to build an experience that satisfies casual consumers on the first level without requiring them to dig deeper into the media experience.

Writing for transmedia environments invokes a parallel to the classic journalistic pyramid style where details expand as a news story continues. Print journalists are trained to write so that areas can leave the story at any point fulfilled.

However, transmedia requires three dimensional thinking.

In essence, the audience drives where they want the story to go. Our job as writers is to empower them.

Jason Konopinski and I talked about this extensively in one of his recent podcasts.

A story can’t be linear in nature, rather it needs to allow for a reader/viewer to go in any direction they’d like across any media. The Walking Dead TV series — based off the comic book serial — was written to empower back stories with two-three minute webisodes.

Someone may view a TV program, but then read a book, and learn more. Their experience takes a horizontal leap when they visit the web site or YouTube and see outtakes.

Whether it is with photos, animation, comic books, or social media, the experience can go extends, in and out of your story arc, challenging media writers to become more like party hosts than a conventional storytellers.

That means transmedia writers should unfold a story with more than words. In essence, we have to master content creation in a variety of media.

In addition, as noted above, there will be casual viewers/readers, and most of them won’t want to access deeper levels of content. So as writers we need to build layers as rewards for the hungry die-hard fan. One could consider monetizing the story with deeper levels of engagement.

This is much like lead nurturing. In a marketing sense, I would consider the two to be analogous. Moving from the top of the sales funnel to a nurtured, qualified lead to closing a sale.

Consider how many bloggers give away free content, then monetize with deeper media experiences like webinars and books.

What do you think about transmedia writing for consumer media and in marketing?