YouTube: Sophie Gracewell
My project is a digital adaptation of Vendetta by Catherine Doyle. I have chosen to use multiple platforms to tell the story through the characters interacting with each other online as ‘of all the pleasures of literature, none is more fulfilling to the embodied mind than immersing itself in a fictional world.’ Creating a transmedia online world for this story has been incredibly challenging as readers must be able to view the story on whichever platform they want and have all the available information to understand the plot and past events, ‘transmedia narratives are much richer across platforms, each narrative must be a complete story on its own (Jenkins 2007). Thus, if levels of narrative understanding are high in each medium, each can stand as its own story.’ I chose to use Twitter, Tumblr and YouTube to design this interactive and transmedia world from the original book published in 2014.
To get this project live I contacted the author and publisher to gain permission and they have been following the progression of the story online. The author has even interacted with several of the characters.
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries inspired me to create such an intricate transmedia narrative thread, using ‘each platform [to] provide[s] a unique contribution to the fictional world.’ The creators of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries managed to adapt Pride and Prejudice to a very modern version where Elizabeth Bennet’s diary is in the form of a vlog and change the third person narration to a first person. It was able to give details into other characters lives and so I decided to use a very modern piece of literature and see if that would translate just as well into a digital version of the book. The main protagonist has a great personality to be in front of a camera and as her world expands, due to the events that take place, it is a great way to show YouTube readers how these events have affected her.
I decided to use Twitter because the main characters are all in their late teens or early twenties. The social media site gives fans of the series a chance to interact with the characters and I have found that the main character’s love interest has actually been the one to be tweeted at the most. I have also been the subject of ‘fan-girling’ where one of the people who loves the Blood For Blood series re-tweets, replies and likes any tweet that I post from Luca’s account. The fans of the series are almost play-acting in order to immerse themselves in the online narration of the story, ‘through their act of make-believe readers, spectators, or players transport themselves in imagination from the world they regard as actual toward an alternative possible world – a virtual reality – which they regard as actual for the duration of their involvement in the text, game or spectacle.’ Because of the way fans of the story have been interacting with my characters is has been very tough to keep the narrative on track as they keep tweeting about things that haven’t happened to the characters yet. ‘This phenomenon, known as “transfictionality” … expresses the reader’s desire to free the fictional world from the control of the author and to see it live and evolve independently of the text that originally brought it to life’ making interactions between characters and the public seem more real as I have to tweet outside of the story in order to satisfy followers of the accounts and to give them more details about the characters as if they are 3D people with real lives going on even when they are not in the current section of the book.
Because I have created so many different character view points there are new parts to the original that I must always be designing and uploading for viewer consumption. As Linda Hutcheon writes about in reference to view points enriching a story ‘our perspective is much broader, thanks to voice-overs and other characters’ information, conveyed often through flashbacks (B. Thomas 2000: 222)’ it is imperative that each of the characters brings a new frame of reference to the novel and informs the spectators about events that have happened in a new frame of light.
As Sophie Gracewell is the main character of all the books, I decided to have a vlog dedicated to her version of the story as ‘YouTube is probably the most prominent example of media practice that allows the individual to record the minutest details of his or her life and to distribute them.’ During these vlogs, Sophie brings the other characters to life with the use of costume theatre as she occasionally dresses up like them and impersonates them on camera.
It has been incredibly challenging to make, edit and upload these videos in a timely fashion. The videos can take about five hours from start to finish and then have to be tweeted about as well as making sure that the characters have been talking about events that lead up to the events that Sophie talks about in her videos.
I chose to create a vlog because I wanted audience participation, whether that was on YouTube, Twitter or Tumblr, and the vlogs are ‘a form whose persistent direct address to the viewer inherently invites feedback’ automatically involving the watcher and at many points Sophie does ask her watches to tweet directly to her.
However, I have had difficultly trying to put everything into the videos such as the letters between Sophie and her father who is prison. This realisation made me think about how to structure my project and I decided that Sophie needed to have a base from which to give the extra information from the book. I settled on using Tumblr as a way of communicating other information and giving people who wish to follow the adaptation an idea of how to do it. As Tumblr is a blog site it ‘has attained the mainstream as a form of digital personal diary’ which gives me the ability to get personal information that Sophie wouldn’t normally share across to my audience, which is supported by Viviane Serfaty when she noted that ‘diarists feel they can write about their innermost feelings without fearing identification and humiliation, [while] readers feel they can inconspicuously observe others and derive power from that knowledge.’
By using Tumblr instead of WordPress or another blogging site, I have been given the opportunity to make my blog much more relevant to the age of the fans of the book as it is aimed at teenagers, and 61% of 13-19 year olds claim Tumblr as their favourite social media site.
This project has been enormously rewarding as I have been able to work with the author to create something lasting that can be viewed across multiple platforms and in many different ways. My aim in this project was to show that stories don’t have to be read in book form and that social media can bring a story to life in different and interactive ways that allow the story to change and adapt because the fans influence decisions made by the characters and can sway them from a particular thought process.
Other Twitter handles
Millie Parker @millietheamazin
Alex Parker @ParkerBasket
Luca Falcone @falcone_luca1
Nicoli Falcone @nic_falcone
Dom Falcone @falcone_dom1