Over various posts I have talked about some of the many techniques I use to build a Storyworld around an existing linear story product such as a film or a TV series. This post looks at exploring a Storyworld in order to generate more content that is not necessarily purely about the main story.
Once a Storyworld has been created it is a good idea to get to know the lay of the land.
Take A Trip
This is about taking an exercise in imaginary thinking; imagine you are walking through your Storyworld. What is it missing? What does it need? Is it easy to navigate from one location to another? Asking yourself these types of questions will lead to more content and more layers of detail that will enrich the Storyworld.
It is all about attention to detail which is always noticed and appreciated by an audience or a game player. I’m thinking of the games that have this; ‘Grand Theft Auto’ and its radio station, the vast range of flora and fauna in ‘Skyrim’, and the detailed weapon sound effects of the ‘Battlefield’ series of shooters.
When I was creating a Storyworld for a contemporary conspiracy thriller set in a small coastal town we named Sheerport, I recalled trips I’d made to actual seaside towns and incorporated details like pub names, the narrow alleys of Whitby, the night clubs of Brighton, and the full-on dilapidation and sleaze of Blackpool.
I imagined going for a walk through the fictional town of Sheerport and made notes on what it still needed; a couple more pubs, a greasy spoon cafe, a mix of old and new buildings and areas, a few eccentrics wandering the street or propping up bars (later one of these characters was used to deliver story content relevant to the conspiracy), rival taxi companies, irregular public transport, an underground tunnel system dating back to Victorian smugglers, and later a place where a ‘zombie’ is spotted by a group of kids. All this from one virtual walk.
As you can see, plenty of story content opportunities were created. Sometimes too much story material can become problematic as it leads to a diluting of the Main Linear Story you are telling, and confuses the audience who suddenly find themselves lost in a maze of tangential stories. To counter this the Storyworld needs limitations and boundaries in order to keep it in check. There will always be the option to expand at a later date which is one of the benefits of working with a Storyworld – flexibility.
A first person point of view stroll through your Storyworld is a great way of thinking up new content that doesn’t necessarily have to be about the Main Linear Story. It can be more about details. It is the attention to detail that gives a Storyworld its depth, richness and it is what helps engage audiences.
So take a trip around your Storyworld and see what comes up. Whatever it is, I’m sure it will add colour, detail and context to your story.