Narrative

You may not be the next JK Rowling or Shakespeare; however we are all born with the natural gift of storytelling. From an early age our imagination is constantly expanding. For example when I was younger, my siblings and I would often transform our living room into a wild ocean. We would use cushions as stepping-stones across the room, protecting us from the ‘sharks’. This and similar made-up situations would get through those dull, rainy days. Although it may not be a Hollywood blockbuster, it does have structure, imagination and defining of roles/characters.

Adults and children tell stories about events that they see present in the world around them, about events that they have experienced in the past, and about events that take place in their imagination. In all cases, stories impose structure on those events such that listeners (including the storyteller) can understand them, and thereby gain some particular perspective on the events.

Cassell, J & Smith, J, (1999) Space for Voice: Technologies to Support Children’s’ Fantasy and Story Telling

Although there are many types of narratives which include imagery, type and sound, In my opinion word alone is the most powerful. There are no boundaries; there are no limits to the imagination. Each reader defines and constructs both scene and characters using their imagination. Opinions are formed, and readers gain emotional attachments towards fictional characters. The most recent example of this is the “50 shade of grey” series. Women are obsessed! They not only fall in love with this character but have also used the book to improve their sex-life. These are powerful qualities which could not be portrayed through other, restrictive mediums.

Furthermore, the transition of novels to screen often fails to impress. Of course it’s down to personal opinion, but whenever one of my favourite books has been cinematised, I have been disappointed. Working with budgets and time restraints, films are often rushed, cropped and watered down. Also with the pressures of today’s audience the true story is often lost in translation, sacrificed for expensive visuals and over-the-top action. Plots are changed, characters are altered.

A prime example of this is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Since the classic novel published in 1818, there has been many adaptations – Most notably the Hollywood version directed by James Whale, 1931. Based upon the original book,The differences are clear to see – especially the characterisation of ‘the monster’. The character appears to be dumb and brainless, unable to speak or carry out normal human actions. However in the novel, ‘the monster’ is extremely agile and articulate. The only similarities are that of his ugly complexion. This in my opinion did not justify the novel, sacrificing the intense imagery and complex story to attract Hollywood’s target market.

Frankenstein, 1931, directed by James Whale

Frankenstein, 1931, directed by James Whale

Frankenstein, 1931, directed by James Whale

 Recently I have been given the chance to remake this classic into an interactive book for the Ipad. It granted me the opportunity to reflect upon the images in which I had created in my head after reading the novel. In my opinion my illustrations capture the character far more effectively than the Hollywood blockbuster.The experience is more powerful due to the interactive qualities, combined with image and text brings the novel to life.

Ryan McGinley - Frankenstein Interactive novel

Ryan McGinley – Frankenstein Interactive novel

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About ryanmcginley

Currently studying Graphic Design at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design.

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