Future of Storytelling?

Book Drop: No Books, Please

A lot of the talk around transmedia is about how it’s the “future of storytelling”, that this is the direction the entertainment industry is inevitably going, etc. I’ve said it myself, I’m sure.

The thing is, I’m not sure I entirely agree with it.

There’s absolutely no doubt that this is a great form of storytelling that has seen greater proliferation and potential with the advance of technologies from social media to the mobile device.

But is it the only future of stories? I doubt it. Film didn’t kill theatre. There will always be a place for monomedia stories. There will always be a place for a standalone movie or a novel that I want to pick up, read, then put down and not engage with any further -- other than perhaps to discuss it at a bookclub meeting or with friends. (Yes I’m in a bookclub.)

There’s a ton of potential around transmedia storytelling, and I think we can tell some really cool stories, engaging stories, stories that pull the audience in through participation and immersiveness, stories that are rich enough and that audiences connect with enough to demand an entire universe of interconnected stories.

But as has been said before, not everything needs to be transmediafied. I don’t think I’m saying anything new here.

The point I’m trying to make, though, is that we need to acknowledge that in everything we do. Transmedia is not the collective Messiah of Storytelling. In fact, participatory stories and huge-ranging storyworlds are far more difficult for an audience to get into than, say, a book. And that’s not because they don’t understand the form, it’s because it just takes more time and effort.

So if we’re going to woo an audience to a transmedia story, if we’re going to woo the public in general to the concept of transmedia stories, we must a) make the experience as easy as possible, and b) show them very specifically the value proposition we’re offering. Why are they going to want to put in that extra effort to get into our story?

And perhaps, is there a way they can get into at least part of our story without that extra effort? That’s perhaps a good argument for why transmedia stories should have a driving platform that doesn’t necessarily require other pieces to make sense and be a complete experience on its own, assuming you’re looking to access a broad audience.

Thoughts? Am I wrong?