Seven core concepts on transmedia storytelling – Part 2

This blog post reveals Part II of Henry Jenkins’ seven core concepts on transmedia storytelling. The content of the blog post is paraphrased from Henry Jenkins’ words in his weblog.

Concept #2: Continuity vs. Multiplicity

Many transmedia franchises seek to construct a very strong sense of continuity in their stories to get their audiences’ appreciation of the credibility of their fictional worlds. The aspect of continuity becomes a payoff for the fans who have invested a lot of time and energy in collecting the scattered bits of the stories and assembling them into a meaningful whole.

More recently comic book publishers has been pushing beyond this logic of continuity. These publishers rely on the logic of multiplicity. Multiplicity allows for fans to take pleasure in alternative retellings, seeing the characters and events from fresh perspectives. In other words these comic publishers trust their fans to sort out not only how the pieces fit together but also which version of the story any given work fits within.

The concept of multiplicity paves the way for fan fiction and other forms of grassroots expression as part of the same transmedia logic. Unauthorized extensions of the main story become part of the story world and this may enhance fan engagement and expand the audience’s understanding of the original story. If the storytellers embrace the concept of multiplicity and fan fiction instead of experiencing it as a threat to the coherence of the original story, then the alternate versions may offer some interesting insights into who the characters are and what motivates their behaviour.

To sum it up: Some transmedia franchises foster continuity and coherence in their story in order for them to ensure maximum credibility among all extensions of their story. Others use the alternate versions of characters or parallel universe versions of their stories to reward mastery over the source material and thereby they encourage their audience to participate in their quest.

No matter which of these two concepts you wish to incorporate into your transmedia universe you need to make sure, that you have a clear signalling of whether you are introducing the concept of multiplicity or the concept of continuity within any given “alternative” version of the central story.

We recommend you to pay Henry Jenkins’ weblog a visit for the full version of the seven core concepts on transmedia storytelling.

I wish you all a nice weekend

/Mette

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