Things I’ve Learned Creating a Character for an Online Narrative

Erica presented Bronwyn, Liz and I with the project of creating a character for a blog for readers in their mid-teens. Being way out of my mid-teens, I found the task a bit daunting and wasn’t really sure I could create a narrative voice that sounded authentic and entertaining. Thankfully, I found that actually getting down to imagining and writing a character is loads of fun and not at all as hard as I expected it to be. Aside from being a creative delight, it taught (and continues to teach) me to appreciate the multi-platform possibilities of cyberspace narratives and the tools with which to manage them. These tools are invaluable to me as they teach me how to use the web space and control my own online presence.

Brainstorming about our character is rather enjoyable.            Photographer: Liz Kearsley

The first thing that really blew my mind about online writing was that I could bring in many different media into my story, making it a more interactive and immediate experience for readers. I’ve often been frustrated while telling a story to my friends that I just can’t describe that hilarious expression I saw so-and-so make, or an incredible stunt my cat performed, or why some songs send chills down my spine (“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture” – who said that?). Writing in cyberspace means that I don”t have to settle for only my description to convey the experience I am trying to share, but can bring my listener right into the moment of my cat’s star-jump with back flip with a picture, video or drawing (a talented cat must be appreciated, after all).

Also, using different media brings the reader into the process of my story, so that I can document the many stages of building an enormous Lego castle, making my own toga, or what have you. In the web space, I can choose how intimately I want my reader to know the details of an experience, real or imagined, sharpen my tech skills by weaving other media into the page, and also learn the importance of using social media effectively. Having this ongoing story-space also keeps me alert to funny stories during the everyday so that I can appreciate the happenings around me as I would not otherwise. I have to say that I really enjoy this shift in perspective.

I’m really excited about sharing the product of our joint creative efforts at the Narratives in Cyberspace workshop AhimsaMedia is hosting next week at Capilano University, designed specifically for youth. Through trial and error, we discovered many tweaking tips that would save fellow storytellers a lot of time (and I admit, frustration); I’m also really pleased to have the opportunity to tell others the tools and tricks we learned navigating various social media platforms and our experiences creating our character and her story.  If you’d like to register for the week-long Narratives and Cyberspace workshop, click here. We’d love to see you there!

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