Next week will see me deliver a pair presentations and panel sessions on writing and developing interactive narratives.
On friday 26th I’ll delivering the kick-off presentation at the Immersive Writing Lab, part of the London Transmedia Fest hosted at Ravensbourne College. And then on the following day, the 27th, i’ll be at the Cockatoo Island Film Festival presenting on a panel at SPAAAFringe Sydney, the Screen Producers Association conference held as part of the festival. (Skype rather than a Portal-Gun is helping me span the continent in 24hrs) And both of these will be this years warm up for the Australian Writers Guild national screenwriters conference held in February next year where I’ve assembled a kick-arse panel of forward-thinkers from such bastions of interactive cleverness as Chocolate Liberation Front and Envelop Entertainment.
The running perspective for all of these is a focus on the specific processes of developing and articulating interactive stories from a writers perspective. Many conferences and industry events over a good number of years have held similar sessions and in 2012 we cant argue interactive storytelling is ‘new’ anymore. Generally such sessions appeared to look broadly - “bright shiny cool stuff happening over here you should check it out..” kind of sessions. And largely the tone was of enticing writers to consider the future possibilities - the ‘Why’ of interactive and multi-platform.
What I wanted to do this time around was to get into nitty gritty, specifics of How and What rather than Why for writers. It comes somewhat from my own work the past year with Portal Entertainment in the Uk where ive been wrangling a writers table to develop Horror and Thriller narrative projects - writers who come from novel, comic books, Tv and film not interactive backgrounds. I had to ask myself myself what frameworks would i give them, what did we need them to be conscious of, what were our in-house ‘rules’ for what we could or couldn’t do and how our projects should work?
The base line I’ve been adhering to is that interactive storytelling should not throw the baby out with the bathwater and principles of character, dramatic questions, transformation inherent in all story writing are applicable in the interactive space. In this way I want writers to leave the sessions feeling not only that the skills they have are useful and valid in the interactive form but also that they are now armed with solid principles of how to adapt their skills to deliver good work in interactive media.
At the Immersive Writing Lab the presentation title is 5 principles of immersive writing; whereby I’ll breaking down the 5 key governing elements we employ at Portal to develop and collaboratively write interactive experiences - How do we know if a story should be interactive and what role will the audience play within that storyworld?
At SPAAFringe the panel session is hosted by eminent producer Jo-Anne McGowan and will see perspectives offered from both myself and multi-platform producer Marissa Cooke. The title of the session is: Lighting a Fire Under the Arse of Your Digital Audience – story development and execution for multi-platform projects and it will combine perspectives on both producing and developing interactive and multi-platform works - breaking down your story world, writing compelling narrative across platforms, incentivising and motivating your audience and how to best utilize that precious development stage.
At the AWG National Screenwriters Conference the session has the more sedate title of Writing Interactive Narratives and the eminent panel will discuss process, perspectives and problems of writing interactive experiences under the following blurb…
“There’s never been a better time to be a screenwriter as there have never been more screens to write for. But increasingly many of those screens are interactive and so the demand for writers to engage with the delivery of dynamic and compelling Interactive Storytelling. With perspective from both screenwriters and producers, this panel will explore the challenges of Interactive Narrative and the balance between authorial control and audience direction. It’s not just ‘games’ anymore, the world of Interactive Storytelling is broad and diverse and offers huge work potential for Australian writers in the digital age.”
What i find most exciting and rewarding about being involved with these events is that every time you externalize and idea, every time you’re forced to communicate, express and articulate a process, you understand the process better. There is no truer adage than the idea that you learn more about a topic when you have to teach it than just by studying it. When ideas are externalized and expressed they are given life to with the opportunity to grow, develop and gain clarity.