Because the internet delivers sound and imagine it can be used not only to distribute content, but to present it: video clips, streaming movies, novel-length text, music — virtually every kind of content imaginable can be experienced on a computer of any size. Turning the internet to the end of storytelling is something else entirely, even as the end product will also be communicated through sound and image.
Imagine a single story told through these mediums: stage, screen, novel. While the characters and plot would be the same in all instances, the techniques used to dramatize the story — to convey the narrative to an audience in a way that supports suspension of disbelief in each medium — would necessarily be different. It’s also possible, if not likely, that for any particular story one medium might be better than the others, because the strengths of that medium aid the cause of dramatization. Novels are excellent at putting you in the mind of a character, and lend themselves wonderfully to narrated tales. Movies excel at the visceral and the visual, at replicating reality, and now, through CGI, bringing fantasies to life. Theater excels at intimacy and at communicating the reality and complexity of human emotion.
The strength of the internet is communication and conversation. To approach the internet as a storytelling medium without acknowledging and embracing that aspect of the medium would be like using motion picture technology to film theater productions — which, oddly enough, is exactly what was done in the early days of film. The techniques that defined film as a medium came later, and only as a result of experimentation with the technology and form.
While many people have presented fiction on the web, and some people have tried writing dedicated character blogs, my survey over the past year suggests that many of these efforts replicate craft techniques from other mediums, rather than emphasizing techniques unique to the internet itself. In my own character blog at NeilRorke.com, I’m particularly interested in embracing and leveraging the strengths of the internet to the greatest possible extent. [ Read more ]