ForwardSlashStory – the stone that sends the ripples

FullSizeRende4rI’ve been trying to write down my experience of attending F/S 2015 several times already. It’s been difficult. Mostly because I feel what I learned – or, rather, immersed – there has yet to sink in properly. Sink in, and rise to the surface again.

I agree wholeheartedly with what people have written about it to date; great blog posts by Lee-Sean and Fan and enthusiastic mentions on social media from just about everyone. The enormous luxury of spending time – exclusive, uninterrupted time – with magnificent, warm hearted, brilliant people, discussing the very things that make us all tick… in a way I only feel how unique the experience was now in hindsight. A couple of weeks ago, in Nosara, Costa Rica, I was too busy living it.

I’ve written a couple of small posts about things that came to mind during discussions there. I thought I’d give it a shot in this post to briefly list some things that pop out of my notebook when I read my notes from those few days. These are not in any kind of order, but they are things that have been coming to the fore again and again during the past couple of weeks.

Empathy was such an important word during many of the different talks. Feeling empathy, conveying empathy, fostering empathy… using empathy as a driving force to create desired actions. By acknowledging and supporting our own empathy, we can reach a deeper understanding with those we wish to share our stories with. I was introduced to the Inzovu curve, which is an interesting way of visualizing a method to create a certain impact and show a way forward.

A method that sounded infinitely interesting was that of breaking up something, give the pieces to the audience and then let them piece it together as they see fit. This goes against much of my professional experience – from TV, radio, publishing – where near-full control has been the desired modus operandi. And that, in my mind, is what makes this a very exciting way of operating. Not to mention that it directly turns what has been an audience into something else, something much more exciting.

That storytelling is one thing, but storymaking is quite something else also became abundantly clear. There has been a lot of talk on storymaking, especially in marketing, over the past year. Just like a lot of other buzzwords in the field I feel that this term also carries a lot of potential for all kinds of storytellers, as long as we’re able to look beyond the hype and into the heart of the matter, the core principles of – in this case – storymaking.

I found the notion of looking at stories as pure evidence of what issues really matter to people a fresh one. For me, in the enormous flood of content we’re surrounded by daily, to observe and nurture the stories that do take hold, that do resonate, that do gain a following and that do get shared and retold, gives us a lot of food for thought regarding what things really do matter to people today.

Using games, not for the sake of gaming or as an attractive vehicle to entice people to enter your story world, but as a way of getting them to move from their ”regular” state into a play state, that’s another very good way of looking at your projects. In a play state, people are more ready to experiment, to achieve goals, to abandond their shells in favor of interaction… just the kind of active audience member we would all like to have. This is one approach I’ll be trying out for sure. Just as long as the project knows how to harness that play-state, once achieved…

There is no need for an answer, or even many answers. As long as we are able to hand our listeners and readers and watchers a really good question, that is enough – and more than enough.

To start development work on a story with the designing of a game is a novel approach that I’d be eager to try out. With that game – in whatever form and shape it emerges, be it a paper board game or something else – in the hands of yourself and other people, there then exists the possibility to create your story based on the reactions and actions of the people playing. Seeing the world – and your work – through someone else’s eyes is often crucial in order to have any hope of reaching a full potential, and this would stand a chance of making that possible.

…. there are many other notes on Post-It notes, in notebooks and Word-files, but I think I’ll get to them in due time. As a final note, a massive thank you to all who participated, talked, discussed and shared openly and warmly. If I could wish for something for my future, it would be for many more opportunities like this one. And my deepest thanks to Christy and Lance   , who made it all possible.

Comments, as always, extremely welcome.


… and if anyone is planning on visiting the west coast of Costa Rica, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Sunset Shack and the Harmony Hotel, the venues we were located at. Beautiful places and great people.

Simon Staffans is a content developer and producer and media strategist, employed by MediaCity Finland. He works with multiplatform storytelling, transmedia development principles and great stories. Contact him at simon.staffans(at) or follow him on @simon_staffans.

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