the shift to rich media text

I explained to a friend today that as much as I enjoy the pure creative aspect of inventing a fictional world, I am still very much interested in the technical aspect of storytelling – and not even the basics, like plot and narrative etc. 

Something inside me is extremely interested in how people plan, organise and note their plots, also about their environment – where they sit, how long for, where they go for inspiration etc. 

I believe I do this, because I’m trapped between two worlds. I’ll explain: 

I have always been visually creative, but after doing everything I can with pixel pushing since I first got a computer in the 1820’s – I have shifted my creativity to words and sentences instead of colours and whitespace. However my graphical background has been aided by excellent software that allows me to build things up in layers, control every element and instantly tweak various versions – without ruining the original – until the perfect balance has been found. 

Now bear in mind that complex psd’s can involve hundreds of layers scattered about many many folders, I fail to see why such a visual tool can’t exist for the complex world of Writing too. 

When I have a storyline idea, I have to write, but I don’t want to…. I want to draw out a block of colour that represents a location, sprinkle in some shapes that act as positions for characters and perhaps tween some elements that represent a change in mood or perspective. I want to have control of multiple layers that I can turn on and off and re-assess the effects of such a change on the plot. 

The thing is, now I’ve written, I want other people to try it. I believe other people want to do it, and I believe there is an easier way to do it than opening up a blank doc and typing, or putting a biro to a blank sheet of paper. 

I also feel that people are so focused on rich media expressionism (video, audio, photo etc) that no-one appears to care about the incredible benefits of using digital technology to speed up and / or improve the simple writing process. 

I fully understand that in order to write, one must physically write – I’m not disputing that – but I can see a way that an entire 500 word novel can be zoomed out of, moods be associated with colours, character paths be mapped and morphed by the use of shapes and many other things which allow the shifting of a storyline. 

I think I’m going to make it my life mission (until I get bored of it – my life, not the mission) to come up with something that allows people to storytell visually as part of the process to clarify the textual part. 

time to go get horizontal – ta-raa

(don’t re-read, don’t spellcheck, just hit ‘publish’)



3 thoughts on “the shift to rich media text

  1. If I understand what you’re saying, I think most writers do the sort of “layering” that you suggest here. The difference, though, is that writing tends to be linear — one-dimensional — whereas visual art and graphic design tends to be two- and three-dimensional, so the act of layering must be different in the different media of expression.

    When I was working on a novel last year, I spent at least seven months revising the text. What I was doing during that time was reading the text over and over and over again, each time making corrections but also cutting material, adding material, tweaking the details, and shifting elements around. (I never called the process “layering,” but I might steal that term and use it.)

    As to your other point about creating software to help writers prepare texts in a more spatial way, I think such software does actually exist, although I can’t recall any brand names right now. I agree that even though writing may be a linear format, a linear process of planning and creation might not be the best way to write.

  2. yes, linear. That’s the one I want to take on and find another way of production. Not everyone can think in a linear way – and if there was a different way, it might effect the whole way we approach and write fiction/faction etc.

    Soooo… I’m basically saying, there’s nothing wrong with the way things are now – just that ‘some people’ struggle with it, and I’m sure many people would embrace a new way of visualising their story with the aid of modern software / web app developments.

    I have the New Novelist software – was that one you are refering to? if so, its basically like a organisational database. I do agree that it is a different way of writing a book, but it makes the whole process much like filling out a spreadsheet document … not good :/

    I have investigated most other online / offline software too – Buzzword is great for just writing – celtx, final draft, yWriter, glypho – which are all attempting the same thing.

    there’s something called scrivener (terrible name imo) which appears to start tackling the issue, with cork boards to pin notes on etc – but its still not like the idea in my head. The only way its going to get is for me to create it!

  3. yWriter is what I was thinking of.

    Personally, I don’t have that much use for such programs. I get by with a simple word processing document in which I record notes and ideas for a project I’m working on. They’re like loose pieces of an unfinished jigsaw puzzle.

    But those programs might work for other people, so I won’t begrudge anyone their use. And if you can create your own program that better than those that are out there, you can probably make a lot of money off it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s