It seems so obvious now.
I’ll invite people into a space I create to experience something deeper than they might have felt in a while, yet I’ve not told them why.
I’d no plans to convince them they should ― until now.
It’s laughable it hadn’t occurred to me, since I’m a copywriter by trade, but the thing my immersive exhibition experience is missing is, well…
It’s missing The Story.
This exhibition experience isn’t sci-fi
I’ve seen some impressive story writing for immersive experiences:
A tale you step inside of having no real concept of what it all means.
Maybe there’s a challenge to complete or a trail to follow, opposing sides to choose from, or a code to crack. Whatever the scenario, this isn’t my aim.
There’s a story for my exhibition, but it’s not sci-fi. There’s no secret code or alternative world. It’s a story as old as time. One we all have inside us, but barely pause to acknowledge.
Give me your time and I’ll give you a reason
My goal is to guide people to a certain point just from digging deep inside themselves to get to where they need to be.
Do I need a story for that?
I think so, because when I listened to Owen Kingston of Parabolic Theatre speak about immersive theatre and the need for ‘the debate’ ― the point at which your participants decide whether or not to participate in your immersive experience, it hit me like a sun beam coming out from behind a cloud. Every kind of experience needs a story, whether it’s immersive theatre, an escape room, ghost hunting, or a day out at Peppa Pig World. People already have to be in love with the idea of where you’re asking them to go, either physically, emotionally, or both.
- What will inspire that first emotional connection?
- How do you convince people to step inside your world?
- Why should they bother?
By not writing The Story, I’m foolish to think they’ll just choose to.
As with all good copywriting, you have to always let people know what’s in it for them.
High praise for the villain
It comes as no surprise I have a couple of half-written books ferreted away; lots of copywriters do. Life kind of gets in the way of us finishing them until one day ― years later, even, you just naturally fall back into it.
Like I am now.
I stumbled across Nathan Baugh’s storytelling advice like a klutz walks into a door frame (yeah, me; I’m the klutz). The way he so poignantly describes the purpose of a villain and their key role in a story makes me realise how vital it is to my show:
“If your Hero and villain fight for the same goal, bringing them into conflict within your story becomes quite natural.
They should be fighting for two sides of the same goal.”Nathan Baugh
My immersive exhibition experience has a slightly unorthodox villain.
And can turn on you like like nothing else can.
Now I’ve identified the challenge, it’s going to be a lot of fun to write.
Writing my story
Maybe I’ll finish my book after all because what’s weird is the two books I started to write (one more than a decade ago) and this exhibition experience are all one in the same thing.
The nub of it all is The Story I need to tell.
This story’s always been there in the depths of my soul; it isn’t new, so I started with a stream of consciousness and the first thing that came into my head. It’s unfinished and unpolished and generally ‘un’ everything, but finally it’s visible.
‘This isn’t the end,’ says the girl, eyes wide, fixated on the rocks below. ‘Not today.’
~ The Story, TBC
Image created using Midjourney