Fragmentation of story means that a story has been broken into pieces… How does this work?

Fragmentation is when a story has been structured, designed and written as little pieces of story, or fragments, in order for it to be delivered across multiple platforms.


Fragmentation at Bellyfeel

At Bellyfeel we refer to this as Granular Content – it’s a name we first used to identify story chunks when we wrote ‘Crimeface’ back in 2007.

[note color=”#ffffd6″]Fragmentation is at the heart of how transmedia storytelling works. It is where the new exciting forms of narrative structure will come from. It is a simple concept with far-reaching consequences. [/note]

Andrea Phillips on Fragmentation

I am currently reading Andrea Phillips’s new book, ‘A Creator’s Guide to Transmedia Storytelling’. [pullquote align=”left”]…highly fragmented narrative is where I get my thrills. This is where you find writing-as-performance-art. It’s where you find audience-as-agent. This is the thing that gets me excited about the power of transmedia. – Andrea Phillips[/pullquote] And I totally agree with her.

The more skilfully fragmented the story the better, as this leads to a deeper immersive experience for the user and creates in them the need to navigate the fragments of story in order to build a bigger, fuller picture of story events and to actually engage with and participate in the story – you get out what you put in, which is a similar approach to playing a videogame.

Fragmentation in Transmedia Storytelling

The number of story fragments determines the scale of the transmedia story and Andrea uses the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle to illustrate this point. It is a great analogy as there are various sized puzzles from 20 up to 3,000 pieces. Discovering the ‘big picture’ or the story takes more commitment and engagement from the user before the 3,000 piece picture starts to emerge, and is a much more satisfying experience because of it.

[note color=”#ffffd6″]As a writer you have to approach transmedia with a split personality, or mindset – you need to think and structure in story fragments AND linear story as both are equally important, even though they feel like they are opposed to one another at times. You also need to be ready to explore alternate storylines that may not fit with the original storyline. See where these digressions will take you as with transmedia writing you are more in the realm of novel writing than screenwriting.[/note]

Early Adopters of Fragmentation

I have always been influenced by the literary works of William Burroughs, BS Johnson and James Joyce, who all wanted to break away from the linear narrative and the delivery technology of the book. I believe they may have been transmedia writers born before the technology existed.

Next time you get stuck in a dead-end character arc or plot cul-de-sac, think FRAGMENTATION – explode the story and take it in multiple directions, see where it takes you.

Richard Davis
About the author

Richard - The owner of all stories, copy and text at Bellyfeel. Always been a writer, always will be.

Leave a Reply