by Lisa Norman
The first two parts of this series helped us set up a basic understanding of the changes in the world of art and writing.
In this final article of the series, I want to share suggestions and encouragement as we move forward into a changing world.
Story is core to the human experience and is a fundamental part of how we communicate.
People who are unhappy in their day-to-day existence like to escape into a world of story, and that trend has not gone away.
While sales trends show a decline in print, the digital reading trends show readers want to be even more immersed in a story than ever before. Readers love it when their favorite authors allow the story to grow and bring them into it.
Have you noticed "dark mode" on your devices? I read a fascinating article about holographic technology. In some ways, dark mode is a gateway to preparing our technology for holographic displays.
Important Geek note: WordPress and other websites are using "blocks" in their design so they can control the way different types of words — think headings, paragraphs, pull quotes — display, preparing for this transition. You want to be using the latest technology in your website designs and in your writing. You want your writing to be stored in such a way that readers can use it in this future technology.
If you want a vision of where this is going, watch The Expanse. Their use of holographic technology is brilliant. And for fun, pause and zoom in on some displays. They put fun Easter eggs in there!
Holograms and dark mode use less energy than the displays we use now. If you're thinking about a greener future, this will be a part of it.
This future may seem unrealistic or distant until you think about how much money Google has put into developing holographic technology.
If you haven't played with a VR headset yet, you may want to. ("Beat Saber" is a delightful way to get some exercise.)
You can add virtual monitors to your computer by using a VR headset at your desk.
Facebook/Meta has invested its reputation and a ton of money into making virtual reality a viable reality. The bones of the technology are in place. We're just waiting for it to become common.
And words are NOT going away. Books and stories aren't going away.
Fans want to interact with your words and your worlds in new and creative ways.
The fastest-growing genre right now is graphic novels.
We work with words. Those words can now generate images. There is a learning curve to using this technology, and there's a big difference between generating a blog post cover image and creating a graphic novel. But it can be done, and done well. As the tools develop, new artists are coming into the writing space eager to partner with us, making the visual aspect of story even more accessible.
I know this point is contentious. But here at WITS, a high-performance blog, we all know the value of skimmable content. This doesn't mean dumbing down our content, but presenting it in a way that modern readers can come, get what they need, and leave quickly.
Images, headings, sentence and paragraph lengths: these work together to help modern readers get what they need from a post, and sometimes even from a story.
I remember when Pixabay was created. What a gift that is to authors who want to create beautiful blog posts! If you're going to share your blogs on social media, you need to have a good cover image. People scan social media feeds looking for interesting images. Midjourney and other AI artists are now available to help us create these unique images. (Check the usage rights!)
Again: Novels aren't going away. But digital readers want bonus content they can engage with, sometimes even before they buy the book.
For those who are wondering what sorts of content they can provide to their readers to take advantage of the digital reading trends, take a moment and look at your story worlds. Fans want:
Think of ways to use your email list, your blog, and your social media to deliver this type of bonus content. If you look back at the marketing basics I've covered before, you will see that you can use social media to find new readers (discovery), then bring them back to your blog (consideration and conversion), then get them on your email list (relationship and retention).
The future is bright for authors.
We need to up our game. Just like we've switched from putting two spaces after a period to using only one, we need to make sure we're writing and storing our words in modern formats. (Example: a heading is a unique style or type of block, NOT just a bunch of larger text.) Like retraining our fingers to not add that extra space, or learning to repair our text later, this is a change in process, but it isn't impossible, and in the end, it is less work than doing a bunch of intricate formatting!
Now is the time to practice and play with these new technologies. This is your chance to ride the wave of this technology shift into the bright future of story. Let AI tools save you time so that you can focus on the more creative aspects of storytelling.
Since completing this series, I've started playing with chat.openai.com (ChatGPT). You can experiment with it for free. This is a huge improvement on the previous ones I've tested, and I recommend that you go and play with it if you are curious how it can help writers to be more productive.
On a whim, I asked it to introduce itself to you.
Welcome to the future!
Has this series given you ideas of how you can interact with your readers and bring them into the story with you?
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Lisa Norman's passion has been writing since she could hold a pencil. While that is a cliché, she is unique in that she wrote her first novel on gum wrappers. As a young woman, she learned to program and discovered she has a talent for helping people and computers learn to work together and play nice. When she's not playing with her daughter, writing, or designing for the web, you can find her wandering the local beaches.
Lisa writes as Deleyna Marr and is the owner of Deleyna's Dynamic Designs, a web development company focused on helping writers, and Heart Ally Books, LLC, an indie publishing firm. She teaches for Lawson Writer's Academy.
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