Different storytelling mediums have different things to offer. I'm not saying anything groundbreaking, am I? Still, over time I have come to realize that the ways different storytelling mediums contribute to my learning process as a writer are a lot more significant and vast than I once thought. This realization has led me to question: what the common thread running through all these mediums?
Video Games, Literature, Movies, Oh My...
Stories come in so many different forms. Role playing video games use interactivity and character creation to provide immersion. These aspects influence the player to insert themselves directly into the game experience. Literature uses intentional language to create visuals inside the reader's mind. This method too gives the reader a feeling of immersion and allows them, in the case of first-person narration, to see inside another person's mind, or in the case of third person narration, become a fly on the wall. Both of these things tap into our natural human curiosity. Reading allows people to embrace the pleasure of voyeurism in a healthy, harmless way. Film relies on the same concepts; immersion, voyeurism, self-identification and representation. These elements give the viewer full emotional experiences and allows for a form of immersion that can invoke visceral, physical reactions.
It's All About Immersion.
As I write this, I've realized that the common thread through all of these modes is immersion. The desire to be immersed. Players, readers, viewers all share the same desire to bare witness to a life other than their own. They want the chance to live multiple lives and experience adventures.
Maybe all of this seems obvious. Now that I've realized it, it seems obvious to me as well. However, I can't help but think that the intersection of these storytelling mediums is an important one. I love all of these forms of escape, and they have always provided me with the immersion I need to break free from the monotony of normal life. It occurs to me now that the intersection in my mind where all of these story modes meet offers a deeper understanding of what it means to create immersion.
Immersed in Van Gogh.
Just last week I attended an immersive art exhibit.
It was Victor Van Gogh themed, and it provided an immersive experience by using projectors to turn the entire room into Van Gogh paintings.
Imagine being surrounded by brightly coloured images. Towering swirls of colour engulf the room as Van Gogh's flower paintings surround you from all sides. Soft, dark, dulcet music floats through the room as the flowers flow over the ground and walls. Green, blue, white, gold petals close in underfoot. Out of the corner of your eye you see the colours change. The space around you begins to darken, the music slows. Syrupy and careful, midnight blue paint begins to soak through the living canvasses all around you. The deep, dark hues overtake everything. Deep night wraps around you and you float weightlessly amidst hundreds of flickering yellow stars. The bright orbs of light move and curl in front of you. You're immersed in a living dream
Write a Multi-Sensory Experience
The experience of that exhibit provided a multi-sensory environment that made my immersion feel real. There are so many ways to provide immersion, and I feel as if I am always chasing the ability to provide all of the immersive sensations and emotions while only making use of one mode -- the written word. I'm not entirely sure if this is an achievable goal, and yet I persist. The Van Gogh experience found a way to combine words, sounds, lights, images, and movement to achieve that goal of bringing the art to life. I plan to keep this in mind as I weave together my stories. How many elements of immersion can I tap into at once in order to give the reader a completely immersive experience? Words are powerful, and if we are able to create visions in the mind's eye of the reader, then I'd like to invoke as many levels of immersion as possible. How? That is something I am still working out.
Story fanatic. Published in the Camosun College literary journal Beside the Point. Former Senior Staff Writer at The Martlet. Current and future freelance writer.