top of page

Transmedia: The Future of Storytelling and Books

The people who know me well, know I love telling stories, but not just any stories, I love telling visual and interactive stories. I'm currently going to grad school for just this thing. A little confused on what I'm trying to do? Let's define what visual and interactive stories are. Some people call them mixed-media stories, or multi-media stories, and others call them trans-media stories. Each person has their own definition of what these 'media' stories are. What I mean and what I'm studying specifically, is telling a story using different mediums best suited for each part of the story, and using interactive or social media features that are integral to the storyverse. For example: you're reading a story and part of it is so visual it switches to images that tell the story, and then it switches back to text, and maybe part of the action is so dramatic there's a short video you watch to further the story then you go back to text, all in one app or e-book. And there might be some back story about a character, so you click on a bonus feature icon and a pop-up appears with a story about that character, or some characters have social-media and are talking about their daily lives as it pertains to the story, so you can interact with them within the story itself. Literally using multiple mediums to tell one story.

I've been doing some research on the matter to see what other people are doing in this burgeoning field, and here's what I've found. I've also included a list of some of my favorite trans-media stories at the bottom.

From Latitude (They help identify the most captivating stories, compelling characters and immersive content experiences):

"Audiences now expect to shift seamlessly from one device to another—to pause a Netflix film on TV and resume watching later on a tablet. That said, content creators should seek to deepen, not just duplicate experiences across platforms by leveraging each environment’s strengths." Read the full length research article

They've found audiences want:

A) Immersion, to go deeper into a story or world

B) Interactivity, to change or influence a story

C) Integration, stories that integrate into daily life

D) Impact, supporting good causes or allowing readers to purchase merchandise in the book

From IDEO (A global design company):

"As more people consume pages in pixels, IDEO designers wondered why we continue to discover and consume the written word through the old analog, page-turning model. In 2010, we asked: what happens when the reading experience catches up with new technologies?" Read the full article

They postulate the future of the book will be:

A) Book discovery as a social activity

B) Letting readers explore a topic from multiple perspectives

C) Non-linear and participatory stories

From Ceros' Blog (The most powerful interactive content creation software for marketers & designers):

"Interactive story apps provide a new creative platform for tale-tellers of all stripes while utilizing best practices that apply to any digital story. Whether you’re eager to experiment with new formats, or simply improve the way you tell stories with more traditional media, these 5 techniques can help you push the boundaries." Read more

The 5 techniques are:

A) Gamified narrative

B) Storytelling through texting

C) Augmented reality reading

D) Choose your own adventure

E) Interactive pop-ups

From 01Storytelling (A blog dedicated to digital storytelling):

"While most publishers are failing big time when it comes to providing a great immersive reading experience for digital publications, small startups and independent studios are shaping the future of reading with their new ideas. Here's a list for you of the storytelling apps that Susann Fischer found most entertaining and innovative in 2015." Read the full article

The apps are:

A) Crave – eBook enhancement for romantic millennials

B) The Wagner Files – A great animated graphic novel

C) Arcadia by Iain Pears – Ten characters, ten stories, many interactions. No two people will read it the same way.

D) 80 days, Inkle Studios – An interactive fiction game with a steampunk twist

From Fast Company- (The magazine):

"The way that we consume fiction today, you read five minutes here, 10 minutes there, you’re on the go, it’s easy to lose your place. So this idea of a book that’s 100,000 words, that’s sort of this wall of text that’s presented on a small screen, it felt like there was a way to rethink that from the perspective of a mobile app developer. [...] The medium demands its own style of writing. But the familiar interface of a text message means users don’t have to adapt to understand it. Hooked requires readers to tap a button at the bottom of the screen to release each story transmission, as the story unfurls into a scrollable conversation. Even the push notifications for the app come across as a text message from a friend, furthering the potential for users to get sucked into a story." Read more

My favorite Trans-media Stories:

The Marvels by Brian Selznick

Literally told in pictures and words

The Marvels on Amazon

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

It's told via an interactive website (universe), play, movie, LARP, and books

HP and the Cursed Child on Amazon

Poet Anderson by Tom Delonge

These stories are told via music, short film, comic book and novel

Poet Anderson on Amazon

The Dark Tower Series by Stephen King

Told via books, an interactive online game, comics, a movie and TV series (last two coming soon)

The Dark Tower Series on Amazon

Blog Post

bottom of page