Pacing for Transmedia

Pacing, you think. Pacing isn't so different for transmedia, is it? I mean, you still need the same basic structure of rising tension and rising stakes, followed at the end by a climax. Interesting stuff needs to keep happening all the way through the story.

But... not so much the same, as it turns out.

Writing for transmedia has all but ruined me for writing flat fiction. I'm working on a novel manuscript right now, and do you know what the most common feedback I get is? It's too fast. It is too action packed. Seriously.

And these aren't people making up a problem like "Oh, Andrea, your problem is you're just too smart and beautiful," or "The problem with this risotto you made is that it is too delicious." It's a real and comprehensive problem. I don't describe settings, I gloss over transitions. Stuff keeps happening, but it happens too quickly for the medium, so the reader never gets a chance to catch the breath and digest what the heck is going on. It's uncomfortable to read.

But what is it about transmedia, dear reader, that has changed me so?

Web-Sizing Text

On the web, where much of transmedia lives, copy has to be relatively short and snappy. You don't get a lot of room to fool around before you make your point. I just opened a Dan Brown book I had lying around (it's not mine, don't look at me like that) to a random page. I found nearly two pages that could be boiled down to "He fell into the icy river, but clambered out by snagging a branch." Two whole pages, you guys.

If you tried that in transmedia, you would be left talking to yourself, because somebody would have clicked away about three sentences in. The discrete story unit of something-happening in transmedia is the update; that might be a Tweet, a blog post, a video clip, a photograph. Something interesting has to happen in every single one of those.

That something interesting doesn't always have to be plot -- it can be characterization, it can be world-building, it can be supporting your theme. But when you write a novel after you've grown accustomed to writing a story beat every 140 characters or so... it's going to feel weird and off.

Conversely, if you go to write transmedia when you're accustomed to having pages and pages to noodle and have your characters introspect, that, too, is going to feel weird and off.

Make of this knowledge what you will.

Oh, and I gloss over descriptions because I'm so used to that being somebody else's problem -- the sense of a place happens in the art design, and only the mood comes from copy. Yet another way transmedia has shaped me as a creator.

Anyone else have this experience? Is it only me whose flat-text pacing has been ruined by transmedia? How else do you think your transmedia projects have changed your single-medium work?

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