There’s an Irish blessing that says,
“May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been…
the foresight to know where you are going…
and the insight to know when you have gone too far.”
Now that’s multi-tasking – forget 3-dimension vision for a minute – this is 3-directional vision, simultaneously looking behind, ahead and within – and whether you call it juggling or plate spinning, or even whether you have the glasses – they are the constant reminders of focus for developing a transmedia IP.
Not just writing it, but planning, strategising, developing and producing it too.
So, let’s look 3-ways with the luck of the Irish on our backs…
Hindsight is a curious notion that only has huge value after an event or incident. In fact, it doesn’t exist until after.
I’m not one for looking over my shoulder. My Mum always told me not to live in the past as it turns you to stone, but there is huge value when considering a transmedia project in assessing where you’ve already been – in terms of storyworld, character growth and drip-feed (perhaps even subliminal?) calls-to-action. From a writing perspective, as I progress through writing my story I find it vital to refer again and again to my storybible as a reminder of where those mind-mappy tendrils, the immersive moments, the content I want fans to pick up and run with, appear.
Foresight is a gift and something that might have you crossing a palm with silver for. But a canny producer won’t be relying on a palmreader or tarot cards for their foresights. From a planning and strategising perspective an on-the-money transmedia writer and producer will have one eye firmly on their target audience – will allow themselves to become immersed in their social media spaces whilst remembering that the best approach to transmedia strategy is rooted in simple, fluid, human behaviours. I know this might come as a shock, but not everything revolves around Facebook. There, I said it. Earlier this year I had a student – a mature lady who wrote beautiful, elegant prose about her garden. She wanted to use the notion of transmedial play to allow her readers to ingest her story and make it their own. Dream student and immensely visionary! She was frustrated bythe constraints of Facebook for the spread and reach of her story, feeling that the retired communities who were tending their allotments and might enjoy her stories weren’t too visible on Facebook. So I suggested she go elsewhere. She began contributing to discussions on forums about horticulture and seasonal gardening. She joined the community at the Royal Horticultural Society and began to seed (no pun intended!) story strands from a fictional character. I suggested that she might follow and perhaps add content to Flickr’s Your Kew photostream and she also began to tweet with some #RHA and #gardening hashtags. No surprise that her story ‘blossomed’ quickly…
Another student at a transmedia workshop I was running asked for some advice about writing an urban story involving real-life references to rapper Soulja Boy. He’d created his EMCEE profile on MySpace and was garnering some followers in preparation and pre-production mode, but after a little collaborative surfing and brainstorming we soon found Soulja Boy’s urban community with over 243,000 specific ‘Soulja Boy’ fan members.
Of the three visions in the Irish blessing though, it’s possibly insight that’s the toughest of all. For me it’s an elegant balance combining gut-feeling and informed decision and is defined as;
- the act or result of understanding the inner nature of things or of seeing intuitively
- an introspection
- the power of acute observation and deduction, discernment or perception
- an understanding based on identification of relationships and behaviors within a model, context, or scenario
A fine-tuning of hindsight and foresight, along with a well-researched strategy, a clear focus on story and a comprehensive mythology will help nurture insight. The storybible will contain not only a detailed timeline of story, but also a detailed timeline and synchronicity of transmedia production and rollout. The choices can be daunting, there’s no doubt. By focussing on story – on the heart of what the storyworld is about and what message it’s giving, and keeping a constant eye on that – the other elements begin to fall into place. Audiences are already engaged with stories as transmedia, whether intentional or not, consumers don’t seem to generally differentiate between a TV show, a game or a book – when well told and executed it remains the *story* that is shared, discussed, passed on and followed.
Fragmenting *story* isn’t to be belittled. It’s a painstaking and rigorous process (and the main reason storycentral has been rather quiet of late)! Our natural responses and organic reactions to reasoning with story take us through a series of processes ranging from meaning, perception, relationship, memory and choices at the initial stages and then right through to relevance, identity, evolution and prophesy at the final stages of comprehension.
Stephen Dinehart (click to view!) eloquently and passionately revealed his thoughts on *story* at TEDx Transmedia a couple of months ago, sharing how he favours classical storytelling over minimalism or anti-structure. He reinforced this by reasoning that classical storytelling has positive values – virtues of love, hope and belief in the ability to change. Stephen then suggested that transmedia storytelling is “classical storytelling, ‘squared’“. And he’s right. Story holds us together and defines us as humans. Transmedia storytelling has the ability to put us, the audience right into the heart of that story.
So back to our multi-tasking, plate-spinning transmedia producer… The great thing about transmedia planning, production and execution is the collaborative nature of it. For all the elements to seamlessly and elegantly slot together requires a conductor to orchestrate the fluid ‘dance’ of a transmedia rollout – somebody to watch, time and co-ordinate those mutually spinning plates and responsibilities.
With a transmedia IP you don’t need to be the sole plate-spinner – in fact it’s hugely beneficial if you’re not. The beauty of transmedia is that it moves with you, but that initial focus of that Irish blessing for hindsight, foresight and insight will play an important role in your transmedia IP strategy avoiding the lyrics of Beverley Knight in ‘Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda’…
” Shoulda woulda coulda,” means I’m out of time“
Once a transmedia IP is launched and is ‘live’ there’s little time or space for regrets due to short-sightedness. The rollout might depend on you ‘live tweeting’ as a character – which allows a little movement and loose structure. It might require you to work as a community member to solve a riddle or crack a clue. Regrets are what will reinforce and help develop hindsight, foresight and insight and there will be fluid spaces for movement and change within your transmedia IP. However precise, concise and comprehensive transmedia planning will tap into your constantly evolving hindsight, foresight and insight and lead you to write, strategise, produce and execute a compelling storyworld.. ‘squared’.
Just don’t forget your 3-Directional goggles!