Starting a Transmedia Story Design

At the story level, the transmedia author focuses on individual stories rather than the broader storyworld or transmedia project as a whole. At the beginning of the story development process, it is important to identify the story concept, dramatic question, and controlling idea.

Story Concept

Story emerges from the interrelationships of existents, events, and settings. A transmedia narrative is a type of story. A story is a series of acts that build to a last act climax or story climax that brings about an absolute and irreversible change in the protagonist (McKee, 1997, p. 42).

The story’s concept asks one or more compelling “what if” dramatic questions that the author seeks to answer through the story. The story’s concept contains within it a very brief description of a quest, goal, and conflict (Brooks, 2011, pp. 36-43).

Dramatic Question

The dramatic question is a compelling “what if” question that raises the basic question the story will answer and is directly related to the conflict of the story (Porter, Larson, Harthcock, & Nellis, 2002).

Controlling Idea

A story’s controlling idea can be expressed in a single sentence that describes how and why a character’s life undergoes a change in state over the course of the story (McKee, 1997, p. 115).  The story’s controlling idea emerges from the story’s concept (Brooks, 2011, pp. 117-120). The term “theme” may be used in place of “controlling idea”.

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