As the tagline says, BW Media Spotlight is about examining the art of storytelling. However, most of the commentaries, reviews, and article series are very focused one particular medium or format, not on the overall methods of storytelling. (Trope Shark, the trope review feature, may come the closest.) So I wanted to pull back for a more general look at the various forms of storytelling to find their strengths and weaknesses. So welcome to a new article series, fittingly titled…
I hope that isn’t too cluttered. I wanted to get as many of the traditional and modern ways of getting a story out that I could. In this first installment I want to go over what I hope to achieve with this article series. Because even taking a more broad approach there are a few different angles I want to come at this from.
Art Of Storytelling is planned to be a more general approach to examining storytelling. Rather than focus on one book, show, game, song, or series I want to look at pretty much everything through the lens of the different ways we tell stories. From the days before media to today where numerous forms of media exist that even our grandparents wouldn’t have considered, storytelling in general has evolved. Each form has things it can do that no other form can. On the flip side, however, there are certain limitations to each form of storytelling. To choose the best way to tell a story one has to balance the virtues and pitfalls and choose the best one. It’s also possible that a given story can be told in more than one way, which is something I also plan to look at in the future.
So how to go about this? Well, there are a few different directions. The main one that inspired this article series is format. It’s something I’ve danced around comparing live-action to animation, 2D to 3D, and prose versus audio versus visual. So while not the main focus of this series, that is one way to look at it. I also want to examine the benefits and limitations of different genres: science fiction versus fantasy, action movie versus crime drama–to break them down into, for lack of a better term, “sub-genres” to see what works best and whether those sub-genres can combine to form something new. Science fiction for example is a great emulator of other genres.
My main focus for at least the early installments of this series will be the media delivery system. Storytelling has been around since possibly before the spoken word. We all do it, from answering “how was your day” to telling our kids bedtime stories, to actually producing stories. We doodle, we create art, and it’s all a unique form of storytelling. We’ve evolved from cave paintings to Leonardo da Vinci, from theater on stage to the theater of the mind to the movie theater to the home theater. My generation has seen the debut of new storytelling forms thanks to role-playing games, video games, and the internet. Who would have guessed a game could tell a story? Well, kids playing with action figures or acting out “cops and robbers” perhaps. How we deliver a story has an influence in how we tell a story and that’s what I’m going to be looking at a lot in these early days. And there may be other angles as well from a general outlook that I find myself wanting to talk about as well that will be a good fit for this series.
From books to comic books, radio to television, science fiction to science fantasy, from the spoken to the performed, Art Of Storytelling will look at the various ways we tell a story to see if I can wrap my head around how one format or genre tells a story in a way that’s unique and special to that format or genre, and where it can’t match up to other forms. There are no tiers here. The Hollywood blockbuster is no different from the art house, and neither are better or worse than television, comics, or video games. Every new way we came up with has evolved new ways of keeping a story fresh, to ensure it doesn’t truly die off, whether in presentation or just delivery. I find storytelling fascinating and this series will just be a general love of storytelling in general. The plan is to make this my Friday offering, but unlike previous exclusive day series like the old Friday Night Fights, Chapter By Chapter, Saturday Night Showcase, and Jake & Leon I will interrupt it for some late-breaking news in the storytelling world, a continuation of a multi-part article, or just because something else is on my mind that I want to discuss that day. Otherwise this will be my Friday offering until I can’t think of anything else to discuss here. And we begin next week by looking at the earliest form of storytelling, the spoken word. I think there’s going to be a lot to unpack in this one.