My SCBWI Australia and NZ Conference Blog 2012
Session on “Going Digital”
Stories are shaped to fit their form. Traditionally storytelling involved, ‘Listen, while I tell you a story’. With the development of writing and printing, story structures changed and moved from their oral-aural-sensory focus to a visual focus. With print, “words became things” that could be arranged on a page. Unlike the oral tradition, these printed stories were now given closure. Today, we’re in the midst of a technology explosion so that once again, stories can change to fit their form. I seek to take storytelling into the future by using transmedia. ‘Listen, while I tell you a story,’ is now, ‘Let’s tell a story together’.
Transmedia involves telling stories over a number of media platforms, stories that are connected in a common story world. For my transmedia novel, Kiss Kill, my character Mat’s world is the story world. Mat’s story is a story of a boy who triumphs over a relationship with his abusive narcissistic girlfriend. It is about a disintegrating and fragmenting relationship. The story frame reflects this by combining prose with other narrative fragments such as scripts, songs, notes, poems, comics, essays, texting, photos and more. Transmedia is used through blogs, YouTube, iTunes, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.
Young adults are adept at reading multi-platform narratives. They are used to reading non-linearly and they are used to interacting with narrative through sharing (social media) and co-creation (for example, mashups). Kiss Kill consciously provides multiple openings into the story for co-creation and the multiple platforms allow for engagement and participation. Readers can engage with me as the author on my blog (www.jenimawter.com), or Mat on his blog http://www.whyidontgetgirls.com. Facebook, Twitter (@mawter @kisskilldigital) and Pinterest are also used for sharing the story experience. Kiss Kill readers upload their creations on Mat’s blog. They have created artwork and music and recorded their own versions for my song lyrics ‘Thought I Knew’ as well as made a YouTube for the haunting scene ‘How Do You Define a Man?’ Individual as well as community creation is encouraged so that this story can continually evolve.
As a transmedia writer I need to educate myself on multiple platform storytelling, writing non-linear narrative and, technology developments that change daily. I am not just on a steep learning curve, I am on a trajectory. To the best of my knowledge Kiss Kill is one of the first transmedia young adult novels published for a global market by a small publisher, Really Blue Books, on a minimal budget.