Kazou Ishiguro is the Nobel Prize winning author of many wonderful novels, including The Remains of the Day. He recently gave the Nobel Lecture in Literature detailing his personal history and how he developed as a writer. One comment he made was about his perspective on his own work had changed after he’d completed his first novel and screenplay; it was at that point that Ishiguro decided to write fiction that could only work properly on the page.
What does it mean for fiction to work properly only on the page? There are many ways to tell a story. Cinematic storytelling is the type of narrative that features lots of dialog, action that progresses in a predictable trajectory, and an emphasis on the visually compelling. Books written in this fashion can be easily adapted for dramatic performance – someone can watch the story on stage, tv, or in a movie without losing the essence of the work.
Ishiguro didn’t want that. He chose to work in a different style, influenced by Marcel Proust’s sprawling, non-linear fiction that both asked much of and delivered much to the careful reader – and little to anyone else who tried to access the narrative through any other medium. This decision influenced his work structurally and stylistically: knowing he was writing for the page impacted what Ishiguro wrote, and how he wrote it.
You are your business’ storyteller. Like Ishiguro, you have a range of storytelling channels to choose from. You can post to Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter. You can create content for your website – blogs, articles and guides, video and more. Customers have unique expectations for each platform: there’s a style of content they expect from Instagram, and a very different style of content they expect from a blog post or gift guide. Before you begin creating your content, it helps to know where you’re going to present it, and what the expectations for that platform are.
Does this mean that each platform demands content created specifically for it and only it? For best results – results of the Nobel Prize winning sort – the answer is yes. Pragmatically, in a world where we want to derive maximum results from content creation, cross-platform promotion of material makes sense. Even then, the frame influences the picture. If you’re using an Instagram post to drive readers to your blog, do so with beautiful, eye-catching imagery and relevant hashtags. Remaining mindful always of the storytelling platform’s unique parameters will result in stronger messaging with greater appeal for your customers.
As marketers, we can not be afraid to take our work seriously. Listening to great storytellers who work in spheres markedly different than our own makes sense. I leave you with this quote from Ishiguro, “What is the point of worrying oneself too much about what one could or could not have done to control the course one’s life took? Surely it is enough that the likes of you and I at least try to make our small contribution count for something true and worthy. And if some of us are prepared to sacrifice much in life in order to pursue such aspirations, surely that in itself, whatever the outcome, cause for pride and contentment.”