And why is this important?
Because to improve the stories we tell, to make them reach a wider audience and create more effective business models, we need to address certain concerns that surround modern forms of storytelling and media entertainment.
Change is a Constant
Stories always change. Stories can be abstract things but one of the characteristics that can be put upon stories is that within their DNA is the compulsion for change.
Either in the telling… as the orator busks on a new plot point that adds tension.
In the receiving… as the listener or viewer create their own perceptions… they see the monster differently to everyone else OR they imagine the heroes backstory to be like their own upbringing.
So it’s inbuilt that stories change.
The media of today is moving away from single linear stories to new kinds of multi-faceted delivery. This changes the context and perception of stories.
But it’s also fascinating to look at examples of singular stories that pushed the limits of form when they were created.
The TV dramas of Dennis Potter, the films of Nic Roeg and the books of William Burroughs are excellent examples of 20th century innovative single forms.
I am tempted to label these as “post-modern” but the term is too vague and there have been many examples throughout history of creators using innovative methods to tell classical tales… DW Griffiths “Birth of a Nation” film, Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” book and Alfred Jarry’s “Ubu” plays. These stories also pushed back the boundaries to excite and intrigue the audience.
Has Technology Dramatically Changed the Nature of Stories?
Stories are meant to be dramatic Dummy!
Technology has changed storytelling but there is a deeper argument to explore here. The thought rush is to blunder into this new transmedia world thinking that simply because there are so many new channels for storytelling that every new device, platform and technology is a storytelling mechanism and that’s simply not the case.
Perhaps there needs to be some definition between “Communication Channel” and “Storytelling Media”?
Technology often has dual purpose and innovators are always going to try things out in the search for new business (or just for the hell of it!). Along the way I have developed some interesting failures myself: “Interactive Mini-Films” and “User Generated Pop Videos”.
And who remembers “Fax Stories” or the “Choose Your Own Adventure Books”? These are not massively popular forms today.
Ultimately, the audience decides how they like their stories to be delivered to them. They are not passive and they have a lot more choice than ever before.
I will continue on this theme in the New Year. Feel free to add your thoughts below…