THE EVOLUTION OF STORY: COLLABORATIVE WRITING WITH JOE REDDINGTON

Storytelling for immersive transmedia experiences.

The workshop came about through a desire to explore a collaborative writing process that would enable the project to work with a group of creatives from the local community. We wanted to know what the challenges were and how we might overcome them. Author Matt Wingett, describes his experience of Joe Reddington’s collaborative writing workshop.

Local writers working on a draft of a collaborative piece of writing.
Local writers working on a draft of a collaborative piece of writing.

Joe Reddington’s workshop on collaborative was a fascinating experience that really took the lid off how to go about getting a particular writing goal performed through a structured and strict approach to working together collaboratively – that goal being the production of a novel, from conception, through development to printing, in 5 days.

Joe explained that in order to achieve it, specific limits and structures had to be achieved. This meant that each person had ownership of one character, that location and space within the book were also their own “characters” – ie: factors that needed to be included – and that one did not interfere with other people’s stories.

But how could it all work? How do you get into the frame of mind to enable that to happen. Joe started with an exercise that asked each of us to tell the story of a secondary character in a well-known novel as if they were the lead character. They must have an objective, an emotional drive and a purpose. This exercise I found really useful. I have a tendency in my writing not to round out secondary characters, or to make them subservient to the main story. But in this exercise, I began to see more clearly than ever before how actually the secondary character, the villain, the foil – these are all heroes of their own stories, in which they are operating to their own moral and logical standards. When this exercise was over, I could much more easily see how to develop a story between a group of many different people.

So, we were given a task to develop a plot based on the central ideas of, in our case, sport and Jane Austen. Initially, we had to work out each of our characters. What I found really interesting in this was when it came to discuss plot. There was a general agreement to approach this with the notion that “I want a scene in which this happens”. This was a really useful approach, and although the story elements appeared quite tropey, when it came to actually getting those events to fit together, I could see that there were very particular and interesting drives and scenarios beginning to unfold.

In all, it was a pretty joyous activity. I certainly felt I learned a lot about collaborative writing, and that it is possible to produce much more quickly with more voices, which I really wouldn’t have believed before. I also felt that the insight into the rounding of characters is something I will take with me into the future. Excellent stuff. 

Dr. Joe Reddington is the designer of the White Water Writers process.  He manages the day-to-day operation of the project. White Water Writers enables groups of up to ten writers to write and publish their own novel within five days. Writers are given an idea for a story on a single side of A4. They take the idea, develop it, draft it, proof it, refine it and polish it. After four and a half days – they publish it.

THE EVOLUTION OF STORY: WRITERS WORKSHOP PROGRAMME

Storytelling for immersive transmedia experiences.

In January 2018 we received some good news, our application to adapt a transmedia story from The Snow Witch, a novel by Matt Wingett had been successful. We were now in a position to start planning delivery of what would become our contribution to the 2019 Darkfest, a local festival celebrating the darker imagination of Portsmouth’s creative community .

Our project kicked off with a series of active participatory workshops are intended to inspire, inform and galvanise interest in new forms of writing. The workshops aimed to provide participants with an understanding of the concepts of transmedia storytelling, to provide participants with skills for telling their own transmedia stories and to equip them with a different perspective on this new emerging form of storytelling. The workshops were open to anybody and there was no requirement for any previous experience, just an open mind and a willingness to learn something new.

Transmedia storytelling (also known as transmedia narrative or multiplatform storytelling) is the technique of telling a single story or story experience across multiple platforms and formats using current digital technologies. We wanted to work with local writers to explore this new form of expression and discover new ways of writing collaboratively. The workshops were advertised widely including local writers groups as well as through New Writing South.

With the assistance the of University of Portsmouth we were able to run three day long workshops that bought some incredible talent to the city. We started with Joe Reddington’s Collaborative Writing session, followed it up with Alison Norrington’s transmedia session and concluded with a workshop by UoP’s own Mark Eyles on gameplay and fiction writing.

Watch this short video published by That’s Solent featuring author Matt Wingett and creative producer Roy Hanney talking about the EVOLUTION OF STORY writers workshops.

Some of the following blog posts are short reflections on the experience of the workshops and will hopefully outline some inspirations from those who participated. Others will explore a other aspects of the project and will perhaps offer an insight into the process of developing and delivering the Cursed City project.