Weekly Writing Challenge: Multimedia Storytelling
We blog for a million different reasons, but in the end, we’re all storytellers. Creative Writing Challenges are here to help you push your writing boundaries and explore new ideas, subjects, and writing styles.
To participate, tag your post with DPchallenge and include a link to this post, to generate a pingback and help others find the challenges. Please make sure your post has been specifically written in response to this challenge. We might just share your post on Freshly Pressed on Friday, and in our monthly newsletter.
If you’re an avid reader on the internet, you’ve likely read or heard of “Snow Fall,” the elaborate and interactive New York Times feature that tells the story of skiers caught in an avalanche. The Pulitzer Prize-winning story is noted for its multimedia elements including video, animation, and graphics, and ever since its publication, websites have mimicked it with projects mixing text, image, video, sound, and other elements.
We know how to design on paper, but screens exist in a state of flux. They can change. Our old metaphors don’t necessarily hold up. So what are the mechanics of balancing all the elements in our content? What factors should be kept in mind?
Allen Tan, “Attention, Rhythm & Weight”
New York Times designer Allen Tan penned a nice piece on STET, talking about what it takes to design a story — and mix text, image, and other components — in the digital age. It’s an interesting read about the challenges of storytelling today on platforms that continue to evolve.
For this week’s challenge, let’s celebrate and use the online tools we have and create a multimedia post: it can be a story, a photo essay, a poem, an experimental and sensory piece, and anything else. The one requirement is to include at least three elements:
- a minimum of one image
- a third media component — audio, video, gallery, slideshow, blockquotes, styled text, etc.
You can include more than three elements, of course!
Text + image + sound
We recently stumbled upon a creative and evocative post about Berlin at Just One Day in a Lifetime. The post is composed of black and white images of Berlin’s streets and sights, and a David Bowie track plays while you’re viewing the post. (Kudos to the blogger for making this work — many people hate visiting pages on which music plays automatically, and it’s done tastefully here.)
Scroll down the post and you’ll notice some images have a layer of text (which you can achieve using an image editor like Pixlr Editor, PicMonkey, or even the photo preview tool on some computers — on the Mac, open an image on your desktop and go to Tools → Annotate → Text).
The image-text interplay produces a lovely effect that offers a bit of context and tells a story, while the accompanying music blends beautifully. Personal, emotional, and visual, the post mixes three types of media quite well.
Adding text onto your images is just an idea, of course. Simply adding captions or lines of text between photographs will work great, too. Ultimately, the format is up to you — we’re curious to see what you come up with, and how you consider three (or more) elements to build your post.
Multimedia ideas at a glance
- Blockquotes to capture quotes, moments, or specific thoughts.
- Tiled galleries to show a variety of images.
- A slideshow for movie-like storytelling (which you can specify in the Gallery Settings page).
- Text styling — words in bold or in italics – to emphasize certain parts.
- A song found on SoundCloud, Spotify, or other service that supports WordPress.com audio embeds.
- Sounds, background noise, or even your own voice, which you can record on a site like Soundcloud, and then embed in your post.
- A music video on YouTube, embedded in your post.
- An art, animated short, or experimental film found on and embedded from Vimeo.
- Your own video clip, uploaded to your blog with the VideoPress upgrade.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to embed audio or video, you can link to audio or video elsewhere on the web within the post, ideally exactly when you want your reader to hear or see something.
We look forward to reading (and hearing and seeing) your multimedia posts!