Monday, March 5, 2012

Story Structures for Transmedia Narratives - Part 1

One of the biggest challenges of transmedia narratives is developing a story structure that fits a linear narrative into a non-linear transmedia framework. Fragmenting a story across multiple platforms won’t work for most members of the audience (Norrington, 2010). When designing the structure of transmedia narratives, it is important to maintain the things that engage audiences in stories – linked strings of cause and effect, characterization and character motivation, and the dense interweaving of micro- and macro-plots (Abbott, 2005, p. 531).

This is the first of two posts on story structures for transmedia narratives 

A variety of story structures used in novels, film, and other media may be adapted to provide story structures that can work for transmedia narratives. Among the story structures the transmedia author can choose from include:
  • Episodic Structure: An episodic structure is a single story presented as a series of episodes. As a transmedia narrative, a story that uses this structure would have episodes published across multiple media.
  • Layered Episodic Structure: A layered episodic structure has a primary story and a number of sub-stories presented as a series of episodes. Characters and settings are shared across the primary and sub-stories. The primary story is presented in the dominant medium, while episodes of the sub-stories may be presented in either secondary media or a combination of the dominant medium and secondary media.
  • Parallel Structure: A parallel structure has multiple stories, each with their own protagonists and antagonists, who go through their own stories. A common thread or event shared by the stories maintains the continuity but each story is separate and has a different conclusion (Parallel Storylines, 2008). Transmedia narratives that use a parallel structure can tell individual stories on their separate media. When designing a parallel story structure care must be taken to ensure that all of the stories are equally important and none becomes the dominant narrative.
  • Converging Structure: The converging structure has multiple separate stories with their own protagonists and antagonists. Unlike the parallel structure, the stories in the converging structure become increasingly intertwined as the characters converge on a single common event at the conclusion of the story. A transmedia narrative can use separate media to tell the individual stories.
This is the first of two posts on story structures for transmedia narratives

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