This post is about the transmedia project LowLifes I'm developing with Simon Wood.
Where we are now is we have 5 chapters written for the novella and an outline of 5 videos. That means we’re less than 20% through but progress should gather pace now and hopefully complete the first draft in the next two weeks.
In part 1 I revealed the business model and the following “design constraints”:
- we have three characters and each character’s perspective is told in a different media
- each media has to stand alone as entertainment without requiring the audience to read/view all three
- anyone that does read/view more than one media receives heightened benefits/pleasure/rewards
Some transmedia stories might place each media at a particular time in the story’s history – for example, the comic book tells the prequel, the movie presents today’s events and the toys tell the future story (what happened after the movie ended). This seems to be the most typical approach.
We’ve chosen not to do this. All the perspectives are told concurrently across the same time period. Each media starts the story on the same day #1 and ends on the same day #x.
Each perspective (and hence media) has its own protagonist: detective Larry Hayes is the hero of the novella but he’s a supporting character in the web series. It’s Lauren Ortega who’s the protagonist in the web series. This is important if each media is to be self-supporting and have its own arc without relying on the other media.
So far, although the characters share the same world (the location, other characters) they don’t actually share the same moment in time and place. What I mean by this is, if Hayes is at the crime scene then Ortega isn’t. She may talk to a SOCO (scene of crime officer) at a later time but she doesn’t witness Hayes at the crime scene. To do this would create repetition and in a 1 to 3 minute video episode it’s something I’ve been keen to avoid.
Another consideration we hope to complete successfully is that the story time in the novella chapters doesn’t directly match the web series. Hence there isn’t a one-to-one relationship between media and there’s no concept of a “story bridge” as there is in Level 26 where the reader has to watch video clips before reading the next chapter.
I mentioned in Part 1 that we hoped not to have explicit calls-to-action from one media to another and we’re trying to get the plot to do that work. That is, the whole project is presented to readers/views as a three-media experience so the savvy reader will think that if an event begs a question, chances are that the answer lies in another media. It seems like it could work.
In one scene Hayes visits his drug dealer and we discover that an unnamed woman has already paid the dealer a visit and killed his dog. I wonder who the woman might be? Could it be Ortega or the ex-wife? The answer lies in the other media. It sounds a little prosaic here on the blog but when the event occurs in the novella it’s one of those OMG! moments that make you want to read on… or in this case switch media.
The community site for LowLifes is now up and running and there’s a sample opening chapter should you care to read it. Please feel free to sign-up and ask questions or add comments. I don’t expect the site to get much traction yet while we have very little content but I felt it was important to provide a home for the readership as early as possible.
I’ve actually copied a similar structure to the one I developed for an adventure game I’m doing the transmedia for – you can check that out too to compare, if you fancy. The transmedia is still in development and the game site is quite new but we have several hundred Kickstarter patrons to migrate over soon so hopefully that’ll gain momentum much more quickly!