Follow James Stark's blog to find out the latest about the multimedia experience that is The Frequency Effect and about a new wave of multimedia novels.

7 Steps for Writing A Multimedia Novel

The Frequency Effect was a major challenge to create. It took a huge amount of effort. As it broke ground in creating a new category within the multimedia genre, there are definitely quite a few thoughts and pieces of advice that I would pass on to any budding storytellers out there. 

1. Research exactly how to do it.

It goes without saying that the narrative should be the first thing to consider. The story may or may not lend itself to creativity. There are only certain elements that you can play about with without confusing the audience. I didn't want to force the reader to see the main character but instead bring to life key moments through his eyes, to provide additional intensity. My view was that so many books sell out when the movie has been made, so how could you work with them together from the start.

Whatever route you choose, you should be aware that post rationalising is pretty difficult. You can't simply add more bits here and there at the end. The effort and resource required means that you have one shot as you go through. 

2. Layout the elements and storyboard it.

It is always great to have an idea for the full storyline before you begin. You can then plot our how it will work from a multimedia perspective. In the case of The Frequency Effect, we used all the digital tools and research to identify where the future was headed. We read up on all the themes and considered each of the elements in context. 

I knew early on how I wanted to turn the elements into a multimedia experience. Every element was therefore carefully planned with a skilled team. No element was wasted and there is certainly more than enough to get excited about. It would have been lovely to do more, but I'll save that for the next one. 

3. An amazing project needs an amazing team

It goes without saying that creating a fully immersive project on your own is difficult. It is impossible if you don't have amazing people to work with on it. I was luckily enough to work with a team of truly talented creatives to pull together elements that were all of consistently high quality. Explaining the vision and story before it was created wasn't easy. These visionaries were able to bring it to life with me. 

4. Don't forget the quality of the writing. 

I knew before I began that The Frequency Effect would be a risk for publishers to take on - with or without the creative elements. I was unheard of. I had no background in writing. I had no contacts in the publishing trade. 

Of course, this made it an uphill battle to deliver a polished novel first up. I had no budget to find the best editorial team. Instead, I focused initially on the creative elements. I had only one shot at them. Then quietly, after launch, when I had received sufficient interest, I decided to painstakingly go through over and over to redevelop the novel. Having overall creative control, and time, was essential to this process, but I also had to quite literally beg for people to read and feed back honestly on each iteration. 

I would like to thank the professional reviewers who read the first iteration. Their feedback was crucial in the development of the next version.

5. Make sure that you have a way to promote and reach people

We live in a world where ideas are two a penny. There are literally millions of great websites that no one knows about. Finding a way to reach people is therefore an essential part of the creation process. 

In the case of The Frequency Effect, I thought about this from the beginning. I didn't have major budgets to promote it. The story is an immersive one that people find through time. They become part of the experience. There is no doubt that most successful ideas are the result of major marketing campaigns, so there is no shame in not succeeding without them. Just be prepared.

6. Be conscious of budgets at all times. 

It difficult to produce anything these days in the media industry without multi million pound budgets. If you are going to try, you will have to be aware that it comes with major risks and that you are unlikely to ever see a return.

Many 'new' ideas never take off - hundreds of thousands in fact. Most successful household startups were not the first to market, but you can probably never mention who was. Be prepared to lose everything but be happy that you have achieved something truly different and that, at any point, someone might discover it. 

7. Make sure it has longevity. 

The likelihood is that you will be creating a project on a shoestring budget and desperately trying to defeat the odds. You will therefore need to rely on the chance that someone discovers it in the future. You never know what might happen. You therefore need to consider your story. If you are capturing the mood of 'now', it might be great for a year or two, but if the world moves on, it is likely to be lost. How many book for the 1940s do you read? You've definitely heard of 1984 though. That will be read for years to come.