Experimenting with Extended Storytelling

Many entertainment brands have begun experimenting with transmedia, an academic term for extended storytelling across diverse social and traditional media forms. Since I am publishing a novel this year, I decided to experiment a little with transmedia.

From the extended Star Wars Universe to the X Factor, Hollywood is mixing in extended online media to build comprehensive experiences. Perhaps even more innovative are new projects like the City of Conspiracy in London, which combines rap music, a novel, events, photos and of course, web postings.

Here are some of the ways I am experimenting.

Jason on Twitter

After reading Goran Racic‘s approach to his fictional protagonist Thomas Cloud, I created a Twitter account for Jason, the antihero of Exodus. You can follow Jason on Twitter using the @JasonExodus handle.

With this handle, people can ask Jason questions, throw tomatoes at him, or just get book updates. I also intend to use Twitter as a means to extend the novel experience, and provide bridge teasers between books one and two of The Fundamentalists (the first of which I am targeting for an early 2015 release).

It’ll be fun reprising the role of Jason, and at the same time a challenge. I’m not really sure where the journey will take the character or impact book two (if at all), but in the social interaction era it seems silly to publish a static novel.

So if you’re game and want to experiment or you love the book, please follow @JasonExodus.

Special thanks to Erin Feldman for creating the character’s avatar. Erin was one of the developmental editors for the book so I asked her to sketch a personal interpretation of the young man.

Timeline of Events

The above timeline is a sequence of events that occur in Exodus prior to Chapter One.

All of the current entries are referred to the novel, but this medium allows for additional entries that backfill the story. After the novel has been out for a while, I intend to add critical moments in the book to the timeline.

I may add additional elements to the timeline that aren’t available in the novel as I begin writing the next books in the series, The War to Persevere and Hypocrisy.

I built the timeline with Timeline JS, a very friendly tool, which can be used for any chronological story.

Author’s Insights and Short Tales

The video trailer for Exodus provided some insights behind the novel. I hope to do a few more video shorts that describe some of the reasoning behind the book, but will likely wait for feedback to see what people are most interested in.

In addition, expect to see additional stories from The Fundamentalists world to be published on geoffreyrobertlivingston.com. These will likely be short stories that preceded the events in Exodus.

Nathan Burgess had several good ideas as well, and I may act on one or more of them. They include a Pinterest board of Jason’s recommended gear, a graphic novel, and a journal for Helen, Jason’s true love.

Exodus is coming out on August 26, but if you’d like to receive an advance copy email me at geoffliving [at] geofflivingston [dot] com.

What do you think of transmedia-based extended storytelling?

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.
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Transmedia: Multichannel Storytelling Transcends Platforms

“Ideally, each medium makes it own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story” (Henry Jenkins, 2006)
Star Wars Media Universe

Who doesn’t like a great entertaining story? Now imagine a story told throughout your daily experience across diverse media types.

While not a new phenomena, transmedia storytelling challenges conventional siloed storytelling by transcending singular form to engage users. Die hard Star Wars or Star Trek fans can testify the many extensions of their narrative story in multiple media forms extend their stories beyond film. The Star Wars experience transcends so many media types and producers that Lucasfilm employs a story cop to make sure elements don’t contradict each other.

Of course, the greatest modern transmedia hit to date was Lost. Both Hollywood and Madison Avenue alike look at transmedia as an undeveloped source of entertainment and marketing engagement.

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