A Flexible and collaborative approach
By Jen Moss – Writer / Interactive Producer
Interactive projects tend to be very collaborative and team-based, with lots of creative ‘cooks’ involved fairly early in the creative process. It’s best if the interactive writer is prepared for this. The whole team strives for balance between story, audience, and form. Everyone needs to entertain creative possibilities from other corners, while playing their role. The writer needs to guard story and social goals, to make sure that technology & flashy effects do not steal all the impact points, leaving story as a sloppy second. But know that with interactive storytelling, creativity comes from all corners. Your programmer or creative technologist may hit on the one idea that really makes the material sing. You need to be open to what is possible, what technologies are out there, and what is do-able within your budget.
This is a story I wrote, based on an interview, which was adapted into an interactive photo essay which went on to win a Webby Award. Before it launched, the project went through 3 producers, 4 full creative plans, and lots of technical prototyping. During all this, I had to be vigilant that the design decisions were serving the story. For instance, the rabbit animation in the Last Hunt is something I fought for. The metaphor of the old draft dodger as a wily rabbit that could never be caught is integral to the conceptual underpinnings of the writing. At one point this rabbit animation was on the chopping block, and I had to fight for it.
So you need to be ready to fight, but be open to suggestion. UNTIL you start your technical build, that is. Then it’s really best if you stick to your plan as much as possible – to avoid mounting programming costs. You need to work with your team to create a thorough plan for the physical infrastructure (IA) of the project, and give a lot of detailed thought to the user experience (wireframes) in advance. Better to make changes early.