Storytellers of the Future

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techgnotic's avatar
Storyteller by hyenacub by techgnotic

What kind of new narratives will 21st Century storytellers create for our changing world?

Brain Games host Jason Silva tackled that question in a two-minute video called "Lucid Dreaming," outlining the tremendous opportunities (and challenges) facing 21st Century storytellers. As our relationship to technology evolves, the stories we tell each other will change as well.

It’s always fun to imagine what the future will look like and how we will tell stories in this new world.

Silva used culture writer Erik Davis' description of immersive storytelling, a way to create a sort of lucid dream for the reader or viewer:

Immersive works of art or entertainment are increasingly not content to simply produce a new range of sensations. Instead, they often function as portals into other worlds."

— Erik Davis

Silva also quoted Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace by Janet H. Murray, a scholarly book looking at the future of storytelling. Silva explained how readers and viewers interact with a story:

So powerful is our desire to be immersed that it's not just that we suspend disbelief, but that we actually create belief--using our sophisticated intelligence to reinforce our belief in the story world, rather than to question it. We actively metabolize belief through story ... The narratives of the future have the potential to transform what it means to be human to employ landscapes of the mind and turn subjective experience into a living, breathing painting; a wake-walking dream.”

— Janet H. Murray

Murray's book was published in 1997, but it is still very relevant for readers, viewers and creators. She raised questions that still need to be answered as technology evolves.

Here is an inspiring passage from her book:

I find myself anticipating a new kind of storyteller, one who is half hacker, half bard. The spirit of the hacker is one of the great creative wellsprings of our time, causing the inanimate circuits to sing with ever more individualized and quirky voices; the spirit of the bard is eternal and irreplaceable, telling us what we are doing here and what we mean to one another. I am drawn to imagining a cyberdrama of the future by the same fascination that draws me to the Victorian novel. I see glimmers of a medium that is capacious and broadly expressive, a medium capable of capturing both the hairbreadth movements of individual human consciousness and the colossal crosscurrents of global society.

What do you think? Who are the writers leading this storytelling revolution?

The wonders of narrative immersion possible through new tech advances are truly amazing.  My only worry is that as with every other academic subject our youth are slipping in due to disuse, the intellectual muscles that created the worlds in which we as young readers had suspended disbelief are beginning to atrophy.

Children’s stories, or for that matter stories for any age group, should not rise or fall on how well the illustrators and animators built the backgrounds I see in my 3D virtual reality wraparound glasses.  At a certain point, pure storytelling (great writing) is going to begin becoming just another element in the overall narrative, and with its primacy reduced, become all the weaker and mundane.

Your Thoughts

  1. Have you ever had a favorite novel spoiled by a bad TV or film adaptation?

  2. Have you ever watched a movie before reading the book, only to find the adaptation more exciting and thoughtful and satisfying than anything in the original source material?

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omzig89's avatar
Immediately, the _Fellowship of the Ring_ from the _Lord of the Rings_ comes to mind. The other two were done well, but the first one was disappointing. Also, _The Hobbit_ (newer one) was picturized extremely well but the plot was partly ruined with additions that weren't in the original book.

I've been meaning to respond to this article for a long time now. VR technology has come along a fair ways, so I just wanted to mention the obvious:
just as 3D modeling improved how we view 2D projections on a screen, we'll now need "4D" modeling that you can scroll in many directions of time/eventuality as you immerse yourself inside 3D VR experiences. What this means is that movies will be more like games - they won't just be reels that you can forward and rewind; you can actually scroll "around" and visit different events. For example, if you've played RPGs like Diablo, you can come back to the home base town where a different set of events are going on while you are out adventuring. This is how we'll view "movies" in the near future. The trouble with this open-world, open-time experience is that each person's perspective and experience will change since not everyone will view the movie in a linear fashion.
LittleHayseed's avatar
Aherm... The Hobbit... Ahehehem.
The movies weren't bad in and of themselves, but many of the liberties taken in them were just too much.
I know that I'm not the only one who has this opinion, and anything I can say about the matter has been said before, so I shall now shut my mouth.
(I must admit I did like them though.)
Some fascinating ideas here along with some brilliant imagery. 
LeFabulousNeko's avatar
Holy -- yas.Reading the book first is like a hero's code of honor to me. 
CristinaCS's avatar
1- Yeah! Hunger games. Although the movies are good so far, the books are ten times better! :)
2- Yeah... I thought that Kick Ass was so much better in the movie version. (I didn't read the second one, and I didnt like the second movie, though)
Katy-L-Wood's avatar
1. Nope. As far as I'm concerned movies/TV are just expensive fan-fiction. Some is good, some is bad, but it will never change the original for me because it is not the original and it is not meant to be the original.

2. Hmmm... not really. I just find them exciting in different ways.
lagartoloco94's avatar
CristinaCS's avatar
That's tottaly true!! I forgot to mention this one. haha!
Andromada-Sama's avatar
1. don't even get me started, two words; percy jackson

2.  Surprisingly yes, Wicked.  Not that the book was any less amazing then the musical, its just different.  The books are much more political based and not exactly kid friendly while the musical everyone is able to enjoy.  Both are amazing, it just depends on how much time you have and if your willing to look into the finer details of it all to fully enjoy the series 
friv4school's avatar
I never watched a movie before reading the book, since I really love reading and every book in my bookshelf has been read two or more times. And there are a lot of books (like 400 or so... I don't really know the exact number)

TuesdayNightCompany's avatar
1.  Of course.  I don't even wanna mention the names.

2. The Wizard of Oz.  The only movie I liked more than the book.  The book was a standard fairy tale, which I quite liked, but the narrative style in the movie was better.
Bman19's avatar
This is a highly intriguing discussion, especially for me because I am a storyteller of a sort... and I believe that there will be a vast majority of people involved in storytelling in the future, including but not limited to literature.

The reasons why I say this is because storytelling comes from many different mediums, from literature to music, from games to television and many other forms including Art. All these industries are expanding extremely fast and are being added to the world's already large collection of experiences which in turn influences the future of storytelling.
ChompsJ's avatar
Yes. The trilogy "His dark materials". Otherwise known as The Golden Compass. A story I loved to read as a child.
It's an adventure I'd love to see as either a movie trilogy or a television series.
Unfortunately the movie ended up without a lot of important scenes from the book,
in addition to changing character relations and the whole pacing of the story.
A proof of why good animation and actors doesn't substitute the need for a good storytelling.
Sassatelli17's avatar
For me this theme it's really important because my biggest hope is to became a storyteller myself. I love reading and writing and drawing/painting charaters for my stories.
CatrionaMalfoy's avatar
1. A Wrinkle In Time, The Golden Compass, Eragon, and omg, the Cat in the Hat. What evil that they wrought?
2. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. And I like the Hobbit films. They're different, but I think they're still good, although they do rely on CGI too much. And the comedy is ridiculous at times. (Bombur in the barrels). But I thought a lot of the changes were good, and I like their pulling from the appendices and the other writings.
DarkColumbine's avatar
1) Yes. More than once ><
2) No.
iriscuritiba's avatar
For sure new narratives will give the women the place they deserve: as complete human beeings. So I guess there will be more woman telling histories. :D Also, I think the place for the dual thinking good/bad is over and there will be more grey areas and caracters. 

And the books are always better than the movies... Just because you imagine the way you want! The person that reads uses its mind to complete the history, while the TV passes on a completed picture, not allowing people to dream differently (and normally, full of prejudices created by movie director, like - I think a man with broad nose is more handsome than a man with thin nose, but who would put, for example, a latin american or a Asian in a hero´s place in Hoolywood?).
C-Cumbercookie's avatar
1) Oh god...two words: Percy Jackson. That was terrible. Terrible.
Tom-Cii's avatar
I believe I'm more the visual type in general. Movies are much more appealing to me than books. It sure is a great experience to read and to have all these visions in your head of how everything looks, but movies are for a few reasons my personal preference.
TheArbiterOfDarkness's avatar
Wait till they get a load of me...
frogeyedape's avatar
1. I wouldn't say that a bad film adaptation ever could ruin the original novel/short story/comic/series.  It disappoints and frustrates me when directors/producers fail to provide new insights while being faithful to the original spirit, but the original still exists.  It has its own separate identity, and cannot be tainted by the failure of related works.

2. Actually, yes.  I saw I, Robot, which was inspired by the eponymous collection of short stories by Isaac Asimov.  The two were so fundamentally different, yet shared many of the same themes and problems (what is it to be human? who can decide who lives, who dies? etc).  However, this is a rare phenomenon for me for a couple of reasons. a) I read a lot, and usually I read the original story before seeing the film adaptation, so I don't normally get to judge the movie/TV show/etc on its own merits without the pre-prejudicing influence of the original text.  b) Too many film adaptations of written materials try too hard to copy the original, so experiencing both cheapens the experience of the second, whichever it is.  I end up just comparing a laundry list of details that the second "got wrong," as if its only purpose were to translate my experience of the first perfectly.  That's not what an adaptation should be--it should adapt, and change, and grow.  It should be different.  I, Robot did that for me.  I hope that more adaptations in the future will do the same.

General comment:  I don't think that the basis of storytelling will change that much just because the media is changing.  This article talks about immersive storytelling, and while I get that it's referring to something like a hologram that you could step into and see/smell/hear/taste/feel everything, I find that old fashioned verbal or literary stories are at least as immersive as the imagined new storytelling.  For me, words allow me to create an immersive experience.  I enjoy being immersed in another storyteller's vision of a story, but it has the disadvantage of providing most of the details of the immersion.  The best thing is really when a work of words (a "traditional" story) complements and is complemented by a similar story in another medium (such as a good film adaptation).  The words provide an insight that mere seeing could not provide, while the seeing (or use of other senses) backs up and fills in spaces that might be missing or unimagined while reading or listening to the traditional story.
growlum-the-awesome's avatar
1. Ooh yes. As a Percy Jackson fan, I feel like I can say that the movie adaptation was one of the worst adaptations of anything ever, and I'd put it right at the top of that list along with the DBZ movie and the Last Airbender. So many characters many concepts unexplained...just makes me cringe even thinking about it.

2. Not really, but my experience with the HTTYD movie and books was pretty close. I did read the books beforehand when I was quite a bit younger, and I really liked them, but nothing in the first book got anywhere close to the magic movie. I'm pretty glad they made the decision to change the plot so much; seriously, even though I still get filled with nostalgic love at the thought of the books, I can honestly say that the first book was pretty boring compared to the movie!
CristinaCS's avatar
You're right! The Last Airbender was so disappointing in so many ways.... :\
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