Saturday, 14 January 2012

Wax & Feathers

A Tweet Tragedy

The next Temporal Tale up for your delectation is Wax and Feathers: in which Icarus learns his last lesson when he ignores the advice of his father the famed craftsman Daedalus. A classic cautionary tale that sticks a finger in the eye of both arrogance and ambition.

Broadcast Wednesday 18th January through to Friday 20th. 9.00 am EST (2.00 pm GMT) on @TemporalTales.

Not only does it plug directly into man’s desire to fly, the story of Icarus generates resonance down through the history of storytelling on so many levels: heed the wisdom of your elders, know your limitations, read the bloody instruction manual. I’ve added no twists, there’s no jet packs or magic; it is simply my interpretation of a well known story. The ending is known, it’s how we get there that I hope is worth reading.

This particular version of the story wasn’t written expressly as temporal fiction, but it was written entirely as dialogue which makes it eminently suitable —if a little different to what has been broadcast so far. The only major issue I had was whether to send it out over one day or three. The play-like structure, however, made the decision for me; it will be broadcast over three days as three acts.

The format of Wax and Feathers is a departure from the diary-style text updates from the protagonist as narrator of the previous stories. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but this is an experiment to see how something more traditional can be drip-fed over the twitter ether and still work as a narrative.

The other departure is that it is a dialogue and not a monologue. This introduces its own problems, especially as I haven’t ascribed the character’s names to each line, though I hope that there is sufficient individual voice for each character to make them identifiable, but we shall see.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Was HoBloodyHo a Success?

What defines success in a story: originality, flawless delivery, getting an audience or something else?
Given that it achieved what I had set out for it to achieve, the answer to it being successful has to be yes. Once again, I’ve demonstrated that a story can be told in the kind of discreet packets that twitter allows. The story was delivered smoothly using the scheduling offered by tweetdeck (the older version not the new cut-down version from twitter) which allowed me to continue life without being enslaved to tweeting every half hour. I even managed to deliver a second stream with a five hour delay for US Eastern Standard time. Okay, twitter itself nearly ground to a halt around Christmas Eve as it groaned under the weight of festive well-wishing and I’m still not sure if I should deliver solely on US time or have a mirror twitter channel broadcasting in GMT as well, but no real problems. The story itself certainly had its moments, and even garnered some compliments from the followers. 

However, I’ll be the first to say it wasn’t perfect. Actually the editor, Gordon O’Sullivan was the first, but that’s getting off the point. It wasn’t a bad story, a drop of humour, a bit of dramatic tension, betrayal, and the odd twist –all good ingredients, but was it right for the medium? Perhaps, as Gordon pointed out, it suffered from too many characters and a little too much complexity. Perhaps it was over-long to keep people abreast of the developments, yet still recall what those developments were based upon. It’s interesting to note that often with new formats, people need to become accustomed to the nuances and conventions inherent in the medium, as do the creators. (Lev Manovich's book The Language of New Media, outlines this admirably.)
At the end of the day it did work on many levels, and more importantly it was a way to explore the medium and prove that a tale can be told over time, as well as in short bursts. I know I can improve and I know there will be others who can do even better.

The whole of the HoBloodyHo story has now been placed in the correct order in the newly sorted out Previous Stories archive. Anyone following @HoBloodyHo may also have noticed that it's changed into the @TemporalTales twitter stream ready for the next tale later this month. Apologies for any disorientation this may have caused and I hope no-one is put-off by the transformation. Deep apologies to anyone who had started following the original @TemporalTales stream, victims of the 'I only just thought of that' way my mind works.

More on that later.

In the mean-time, I hope that HoBloodyHo has achieved a good start for the temporal tale and that it’s sparked a few ideas in people’s heads.

Simon Cornish