Guest Post by Elaine Phillips
Transmedia storytelling in the twenty-first century is like a walk in a park…that’s overgrown with stinging nettles, overshadowed by dirigibles, and overgrazed by flying bison.
In this series, we’ve explored the various boons of and barriers against creating a transmedia storyworld as an independent artist. If you find said boons more exciting than the barriers are frightening, you’re in the right place. To help you get started, transmedia producer Lorie Marsh has drawn on her experience producing “Lost in Sunshine,” “Visible Noise,” and a host of other compositions to share her top tips for rookie transmedia storytellers.
Love your collaborators. “Ultimately, the people I work with and my commitments to them are what keep me going,” Lorie says. “I’ve tried to stop, and I’ve had loved ones ask me to stop. But I can’t. I love these characters and I love my collaborators. Definitely work with nice people. Respect their time; and when people say ‘no,’ don’t take it personally.
Keep an open mind. “Write everything down when you brainstorm, and don’t try to figure out everything all at once,” Lorie says. “Sometimes I make Jentri write things outside her comfort zone. I’ll give her examples of what I mean; though she might not really have a context for it, she’ll give it a shot. Or we’ll write it together, and we think it’s really cool but nobody else gets it. For example, when Jentri and I started ‘Visible Noise,’ I said, ‘Don’t write me a script. Tell me a story in ten pictures.’”
Know your elevator pitch. “Lost in Sunshine” is about a woman with anxiety: that’s the elevator pitch or “hook.” As Lorie cautions, “‘Multiplatformyness’ by itself isn’t a hook. Most people in established media won’t know how to present it to it get past their managers’ or audience’s ‘So what?’ stage. The funders want some sort of guarantee if they’re going to put some money into it. So give them a hook they know how to sell.”
Write your own definition of success. “Right now, there’s a lot of freedom to experiment, not to be pigeon-holed or be in a caste system where you’re not going to be the one creating content,” Lorie says. “But on the flip side, nobody in the media industries has figured out how to monopolize people’s attention sufficiently in this new environment.” Now more than ever, “success” doesn’t have to be measured in dollar signs. You might define “success” as completing an experimental project no one said was possible; as maintaining control of your IP; or as making valuable new contacts with other artists. And once you’ve discerned what you value as a creator, pursue it with all your might.
Trust the birthing process. “The artistic birthing process is bad,” Lorie laughs. “Things get gnarled and stretched out of shape. You just have to realize that this process is necessary, keep going, and trust that everything will bounce back into place in the end.”
Finish what you’ve started. “Your number one priority has to be to finish what you set out to do, to keep your commitment to your collaborators,” Lorie says. “Read Make it Ugly by Kim Werker and go make your thing until it’s done.”
In the end, no matter your artistic discipline, there’s no better advice anyone can give, is there? So go forth, friends, and make the thing until it’s done.
Want to learn more? Discover Lorie Marsh and Jentri Chancey’s transmedia story worlds here, check out part 1 of “Real World Tales & Tips,” or read Elaine’s “Transmedia Storytelling: Why it Works for Indie Creators“!
Elaine K. Phillips recently completed her M.A. in Publishing at Oxford Brookes University, having penned her dissertation on transmedia storytelling’s impact on fiction publishers. From digital intern to magazine editor, Elaine has held diverse positions across the British and American publishing industries, but her greater passion is crafting thought-provoking adventure tales. She finished her first (bad, bad, bad) science-fiction novel at eleven and is currently writing an alternate history sci-fi novel set in fifteenth-century Britain and China. She’s obsessed with digital media theory, children’s media, and coffee, and would love to discuss any of the above with you on Twitter. Learn more about Elaine through her website and LinkedIn and Contently profiles.