I think the most impactful choice I’ve made in my writing this semester has been to branch out and make use of multimedia to enhance the reading experience. Doing so has heavily flavored the resulting work and has had a more emotional and visceral reaction on the part of the reader. I’m thinking mainly of the first major project, where I did all sorts of annotations – with links to video, audio, pictures….. I think a consequence of using internet-dependent annotations like that was that people were more engaged. It was tricky to balance the annotations; to not overwhelm the main story with distracting sounds and pictures. It was like cooking – enough seasoning to enhance, not too much to overpower and distract. The peer reviews in class went well. The overall consensus was on the lines of the story being enhanced by the pictures and audio. They were able to base their imaginings of the story off the extra details I provided.
This sort of thing isn’t possible in the type of publication I really want to get into. There’s no internet-links in a printed book, and novels do not typically have annotations of side-information to enhance the education and connection of the reader. Of course, there isn’t quite the word-count limitation either. If I was writing for a different audience, one that didn’t have the electronic access necessary to fully utilize the annotated links…I would use more pictures to forward the imagery – especially if the word limit did not change and I could not indulge in poetic scene descriptions (such as the story in the first project where I described the increasing branching of the road.)
It was very beneficial in the sense that as a result of the pictures, I could get approximately the same mood without going so far over the word limit. I still had to cut several parts that I felt potentially weakened the story, but it was not as bad as it could have been.
The multi-sensory engagement worked well with the second project, too. Having the creative story narrated, subtitled, and put to a slideshow really reaches a wider audience in addition to being more engaging and interesting. I think the winning effect has to be the subtitles; audio is good, but the story is admittedly pretty long and without headphones it would be easy to lose your place due to ambient noise. Some people might not want to listen because it would be distracting to others around them. Having subtitles solves these problems, helps those who are hard of hearing, and reaches foreign-language speakers who might read English better than they speak it (which is pretty common among people who study a language in an academic setting.)
The pictures chosen, admittedly not by me though I did make arrangement suggestions, again help the reader picture and imagine the action and scenes that I could not include in the story itself. It is a good trick to tease the brain and imagination along, and the powerpoint slide aspect helped the story advance – breaking up what otherwise would have been a potentially off-putting wall of text.
In this case the audience is museum attendees. For a different audience, maybe one where the people were sitting at their leisure, I could expand the story a bit more. Add more descriptions of the sisters and fine-tune the family relationship between them and between them and their brother. I would have liked to have been able to build more suspense and foreshadowing around Birdy rather than jumping straight into her being abusive. An audience with more time and/or leisure might be interested in a slightly longer and more developed story – I feel that currently there’s the potential for the audience to be annoyed with the lack of explanation as to why Brother married Birdy in the first place, and what triggered the magic. Of course, the second possible annoyance could be personal due to my inexperience with writing surrealism. It’s hard to judge what passes for acceptable surrealism versus what is lazy or inadequate writing. In the end, it could be subjective to the reader.