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.

10 Responses to “Writing Predictions for the Next Decade”

  • All great thoughts, Christy. Although I think we also need to add to the list an increased awareness (on the part of the author and the user) of a medium’s materiality. There are two directions, I think, that cross-sited narrative can take (sorry– I can’t get used to cross-media!)– those that work with a narrative’s materiality, and those in which story supersumes the medium (as much as is consciously possible). More on this in my soon-to-be public PPT. See how I grease the wheels here? đŸ˜‰

  • Good point! And please do not feel that ‘cross-media’ is something you have to get used to. I’ve used ‘cross-channel’, mutli-channel’, multi-platform and so on. There is plenty of room for all of our POEs (points-of-entry) — that is one of the defining features/wonderful characteristics of CME: all paths are welcome, not just one. Can’t wait for the PPT. Hurrah ‘cross-sited narratives’!

  • Hi Christy

    In answer to your point about the shared experience crises I weirdly seem to have been blogging in a similar area and have given a response in my post “Personalized Narratives”. I see/predict both highly personalized and highly impersonalized services co-existing – in fact we will see a divergence as more and more of a balanced mix of the two types (large shared broadcast type services on one hand and highly individualised on the other) move to their respective ends of the personalization continuum. That is my prediction – at the moment!

    Gary

  • Oh, I agree entirely that there will always be a range on offer. And, it is good to hear that there will always be the option to turn on/off the personalisation service. I’m wondering, however, what happens when MANY people choose the personalisation option? How can someone review a work if the work is mainly experienced on a per person basis? I don’t like the idea that the personalised functions will be what is reviewed. Already we have examples of how an individual experience of a work is shared. Take the SIMS 2 website: How Do You Play?, and the sharing of transcripts from the Facade game/interactive drama. I guess in these cases, the ‘fictional world’ can be reviewed, the choice of characters and so on and the gameplay. Events, the dramatic events and so forth are left for the user to experience/create.

  • Hey Christy and commentors,

    Very well tought over predictions and comments.
    I agree that story will transcend into real world environments and back.
    Currently the direction I am thinking about of more like creating a co-creative environment
    as a base for crosssmedia communicatin holds close to your last point of the
    story as a portal to other threads.
    Megathreads and mini-threads, growing into mega-threads themselves if there is co-creation
    enough to support this growth.

  • Hello Monique: Tell me about “megathreads” and “mini-threads” — I’m fascinated!

  • the mini-thread is the first “tries” of a thread by users co-creating content.
    Threads that are picked up and elaborated by other co-creators seem to be relevant.
    They can then grow into mega-threads, main storylines from side-storylines.
    That idea. It is just a thought.. what do you think?

  • I really like the idea of acknowledging the emergence of a story over time…how a “thread”, a topic can be picked up on and then bloats to a “mega-thread”. This we’ve all seen in forums, listservs and so on. But this idea in stories — that a mini-thread is a side-story and that by shear interest by the public, by fans, by collaborators, it becomes a main storyline — is interesting. So you’re saying that volume of interest, of usage, makes a side-story a main storyline?

  • This is inspiring stuff, Cristy! Return to classic storytelling could include people sitting around a fire on a cold winternight telling other people stories in SL or through video on the net.

  • hehe, I like that idea Alex. We just need to find an elder to initiate us before they devulge the secrets of the world…a virtual initiation that requires us to slay to virtual dragon first. Oh, hang on, we’re already doing that…but without the elders. Hmmm.

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