Writing in Place: Drafting a Location-Based Narrative

Your assignment will be to make a digital story that reveals or creates a narrative layer to a physical place that a person in that physical place wouldn’t be aware of without the digital component.

The first and most important task you need to undertake in order to begin writing your own location-based narrative is to identify a place. You may choose any of the locations your brainstormed in class today, whether a specific location (East Carson Street on a Saturday night) or a type of location (libraries). You may even choose a fictional location (Hogwart’s, Mordor), or the idea of a location (such as home or wilderness).

The question you must ask yourself is: What place contains the story you want to tell?

Only once you have identified the location can you begin to know what kind of narrative you want to write. Pick a place you feel a deep emotional connection to, something you feel compelled to explore in the physical world, an exploration you can translate into the figurative world of language.

Remember to think about engaging with the questions from our discussion on location-based narratives, most significantly:  How can you use digital technology to add or reveal the narrative layers of a physical space?

Remember, too, that the project must have a digital component that involves the physical space; that is, it is not enough to merely write about a place. You must write in a digital medium that engages directly with that place. Here are some ideas:

  • Write a narrative that can be “found” only in specific (digital) locations by composing it via a social media with geotags embedded. For example, you may write a story via a series of tweets, each of which is tagged with the geographic location. The story can be read by searching that geotag, and will, of course, be disrupted / enhanced by other users geotagged content. You may even choose to intentionally incorporate others’ contributions.
  • Follow Shelley Jackson’s (Snow) or Carly Barnes’ (Lost Secrets) lead and write a narrative that is physically located in a series of specific locations, but can only be fully captured/distributed via digital media.
  • Create a series of multimedia stories form inspired by a single place, and hyperlink them into a digital series.
  • Or, work in the tradition of “Welcome to Pine Point” and create a digital narrative space for a place without a specific physical location — a former place, an imaginary place — or that layers an historic or a fictional or mythological world on top of the physical world. You may do this, simply by building and establishing a full digital space (like an interactive / multimedia website). For this option, you should feel free to incorporate found material.

If you have another idea for how to write a narrative both digitally and physically site-specific, feel free to pursue it! As always, you are welcome to work in groups, but the size of your group should be reflected in the length and / or complexity of your project. I will check in with groups today to review your ideas and make sure you’re on the right track.

Remember, too, that this unit is intentionally beginning to dissolve the boundaries between the other characteristics of digital narratives we’ve spent the semester studying. That is, I strongly encourage you to consider using multimedia for this project; in order to capture a physical place in the digital world, sensory elements are crucial. Images, audio, and video are all welcome.

This project may also embody other digital characteristics. For instance, if you wanted to make a video tour of a location with a voice-over narrator telling stories of that place, you could remix existing video, or collaborate with others who have stories to share.

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