Ten Advice for Transmedia Storytellers

Disclosure – the following post is based on a brilliant list about creative photography that Chase Jarvis put up in October,which in turn was inspired by a post by Guy Kawasaki entitled ”What I learned from Steve Jobs”. What I’ve done is port the ten points Chase made to the fieldof transmedia, as I think they are all pretty crucial points for any creativeindustry – not least transmedia.
Experts aren’t the answer
Well, at least not all of the time. No onewill hold you by the hand and guide you to stardom, infusing you with sublimeknowledge and making you a shed-hot transmedia creator. By all means, do hearthe experts out; many of them have been there and done that. But there’s noneed to blindly heed their advice; it’s you who’re creating your stuff, notthey. One good example is the row this week over the so-called ”Transmedia Manifest”, a manifesto which IMHO would make for limited transmediadevelopment, if it was a guide that had to be followed.
Clients cannot tell you what they need
This is true in many creative fields; nonemore so than transmedia. Nevermind that many clients don’t even have viablesocial media strategies in place yet; dumping transmedia storytelling methodsin their lap and expecting them to make the correct calls all through thedevelopment and production process is to be inviting a major headache. Yourclients hire you to provide them with something. Do listen to them – it’s theirmoney and their property – but in the end, it’s you who have been hired tocreate kick-ass transmedia content. And if you’re good enough to have beenhired, you’re probably good enough to do the job.
Don’t aim for ”better”, aim for ”different”
(here I’ll just quote Chase straight off, ashis point is brilliantly made)
“It’s funny how related “better” and “different” are. If youaim for ‘better’ that usually means you’re walking in the footsteps of someoneelse. There will often be someone better than you, someone making thosefootsteps you’re following… But if you target being different–thinking in newways, creating new things–then you are blazing your own trail. And in blazingyour own trail, making your own footprints, you are far more likely to findyourself being ‘better’ without even trying. Better becomes easy because it’sreally just different. You can’t stand out from the crowd by just being better.You have to be different.”
Big challenges create the best work

Strive to get challenges that push you to yourlimits. That’s the only way to become better at what you are doing. If, forsome reason, you don’t get such challenges, the only solution is to giveyourself such challenges. Implement new platforms, try out new ways of tellingyour stories, work on character creation if that’s something you feel you arelacking in, and so on. You want to be on the edge. It’s the best place to discover something new.
The aestethics matter

Chase makes his point with regards tophotography, but the same goes for transmedia storytelling. You need to work onyour understanding of storytelling, of platform implementation, of graphics, ofproducing video content, of interacting with an audience in a logical andengaging manner, of handling social media challenges, of composing music,basically everything that is needed in the development and production oftransmedia content. It is crucial to know why one method or one solution is superiorto another; not only to explain to clients, but to yourself and yourdevelopment and production partners as well.
Strive for simplicity

I touched upon this in a previous post – theNOT of transmedia – and Scott Walker talks about the same thing in a post fromlast year regarding the ”gutter”. It’s as much about what you choose NOT to doas about what you actually DO. Just because you can do something, does not meanyou actually should. Simple is beautiful.
Fail fast and learn

There is no point in trying to avoid failureat all cost. If you want to be different, if you want to be great, if you wantto push your limits, you will fail from time to time. What matters is that youlearn from your mistakes and are able to implement the lessons learned in thefuture. This goes for design and development of content as well as for businessand distribution plans, and so on. If you do something and it works, do more ofit. If you do something and it doesn’t work, stop doing it. Re-design. Dosomething else. To quote Einstein on the definition of ”insanity”: ”to do thesame thing over and over again and expect different results.”
Know the difference between price and value

You might be tempted to go cheap to getassignments and deals in place. This might get you those assignments, but it’llbe devastating in the long run. You create valuable content, valuablestrategies, and you should price yourself accordingly. Also, value comes inmany forms – not least in the transmedia field. The value you create will get you the price that you deserve.
If you want to be the best, work with the best

This is simple but true. If you feel you areat the top of your game, you want to partner with people and companies who aretop-notch as well. This is of extreme importance when it comes to transmedia,as partnerships are a crucial part of almost any endeavour, to get all partsdeveloped in sync and produced and distributed accordingly. Ideally, to becomebetter at what you are doing, you’d work with people who are better thanyourself. Only people who aren’t THAT good seek to work with people less giftedthan themselves; in that way they get to shine in comparison. Don’t belong tothat group of people.
Create, and create more

It’s all good to sit around and contemplatedifferent projects, ideas, terms and philosophies. But this will get younowhere if you do not implement this in real projects that have a real,tangible output. Whenever you can create, create. Maybe it won’t be the perfectthing, but it’s the best way to learn and move to new levels of competence.Strive to get your stuff out there.

With that, I will now go create. See you on the battlefield.

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