Writing Predictions for the Next Decade

On January 6, 2006 by Christy

After grumbling in the previous post about how writers make predictions about technology and not writing, I have to put my words where my thoughts are. So, here goes some predictions about I think writing will change over the next 10 years. I say writing, not just digital writing because I’m into all forms of writing (cross-media, get it?).

Primary Satellite Texts!
Authors will start creating their own satellite texts around their works. At present, most writers add to their original storyworld is another book or film to make a sequel or trilogy (if they’re lucky). These usually require the same characters being developed. Secondary characters and sub-plots are explored and ravaged by the fans. I predict that we’ll see the original authors getting into producing short and full-length stories that explore and do anarchic things to their secondary characters and sub-plots, using their own name and through an alias. They will also explore other arts types and mediums.

Extreme Cross-Media Stories
More and more stories will be told in the transfiction style. By transfiction I refer to stories that are distributed over more than one text, one medium. Each text, each story on each device or each website is not autonomous, unlike Henry Jenkins’ transmedia storytelling. In transfiction (a term to counter Jenkins’, though they should be the other way around!), the story is dependent on all the pieces on each medium, device or site to be read/experienced for it to be understood. Basically, no single segment will be sufficient. These will vary between being experienced simultaneously and sequentially. Examples we see now are parallel narratives with TV shows that you can participate with by answering a quiz on the Web, mobiles, etc (especially here in Oz). But, we’ll see stories, not just games being experienced this way. In consequence too, we’ll see more technologies for having ‘hyperlinks’ between media. Using blue-tooth, wireless, infra-red or something.

Playful Devices for Adults (not sex toys!!)
I predict that more toys, more non-serious gadgets will also be used for storytelling. We’ve seen, with the development of ARGs and just natural human experimentation, the use of ‘real-world’ devices for storytelling (mobile phones, email, PDAs, etc). I predict we’ll see more fun toys, gadgets, one-off items and multi-use items that allow us to play with the storyworlds. I’ll look forward to spending more time in the adult sections of bookstores rather than being in the toy shop all the time! This will lead to more pervasive entertainment, but also extreme branded entertainment. In the end, I think rather than having products that advertisers embed ito entertainment to reach the audiences, we’ll see entertainment/creation devices being THE product to produce.

Stories embedded in Nature
At the same time as these playful gadgets I believe technologies will develop so that we can have more immersive storytelling in the real world. Characters, for instance, will be magically manifest with specially created fog projections (the technology is already out by the way); messages will appear in rock pools with specially created A-Life seaworms. Since the best stories are usually ones that use the medium in some way, I believe that these technologies will see more stories being written about Nature, magic and other magic-realism type genres.

Personalisation and the Shared Experience Crisis
More and more forms of entertainment will be created so that they are personalised to each audience member. By personalisation I refer to the abstract qualities for audience segments (think for instance about animated features and how there are jokes for kids and adults); and also to the technical personalisation for the individual abilities of the user. This will result in a crisis of reviewing and critiquing as there will be no shared experience of a work. What will happen then?

Return to Classic Storytelling
As a natural balancing reaction to the pervasiveness of collaborative authorship and epistolary fiction, there will be a return to the traditional form of fantasy storytelling with the single, narrated author and the stylised storytelling of the classics. We’ll even see the return of the old elaborate typography.

AI & Human Narrator Teams
Artificial Intelligence software will be utilised more for storytelling, including the simulation of AI. In the end, the best works will be those in which the author has a close relationship with the software program and the resulting work therefore is seen as a collaboration, a merging of the best two entertainers. So, we’ll see the Spielberg and C3PO colloboration and so on…:)

Portals to Quality Entertainment
We’ve seen companies become conglomerates. We’ve seen how many of these conglomerates are struggling. I think the move toward an entertainment company having many media outlets for a storyworld is the right instinct. But I think we’ll see more companies relying on storyworlds rather than mutliple products. So, for instance, we’ll have a conglomerate that is the guardian of the storyworld like King Kong. Since cross-media works exist over time, for many audiences, in many arts types, the production will be ongoing. There will also be related sub-worlds being developed and managed by the one company (see prediction one). For example, films about the world of giant creatures on the island etc. So, companies will manage worlds, not products, and they will find a way to link them all.