Books, shows and movies all have one thing in common: They start, and they end. Just when you really start to get into a particular story or series, you are always left with the realization that it is not going to last forever.
But now, this is changing thanks to the power of the Internet and real-time communication.
The art of storytelling is evolving to meet the public’s insatiable demand for content. The latest example can be seen from the UK’s Mills and Boon, a Harlequin-owned book publisher that specializes in the genre of “saucy women’s fiction.” The company, which has been in business since 1908, needed a new way of interacting with and attracting unique readers. To accomplish this, it created a virtual hotel for its new show “The Chatsfield” where fans can “check in,” engage directly with characters and follow the non-linear stories as they unfold in real-time. Fans can also snoop around rooms and read private messages, or create their own stories and share them with other fans.
The show’s main characters, who are virtual residents in the hotel, will also have their own stories on individual Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and blog accounts. It’s up to the reader to follow them and uncover clues as they are spread across the Web.
As Harlequin UK Managing Director Tim Cooper explained in a recent article, women want to engage with characters and know more about them. They are consuming content across multiple formats, and this show is designed to provide that experience.
“We don’t really know how this project will end or where it will take us,” he said. “But isn’t that the whole point of a great story?”
While I personally won’t be engaging with saucy women’s fiction anytime soon, it’s exciting to think about how this series will revolutionize storytelling across all formats. If this series becomes popular and fans catch on, the concept could spread quickly. Disney is already on board with a similar idea too, as the company recently released a Star Wars app which inserts readers directly into an interactive film plot with custom designed scenery. Viewers can unlock new scenes and chapters based on their actions.
What are your thoughts on the way digital content is shaping storytelling? Tell us in the comments section below!