“Tie-in Writers and the Mono-Medium Logic Problem”

Yeah, I have no idea what that headline means, either. But it’s the title of a post about the IAMTW on the Cross-Media+Transmedia Entertainment Blog,  which is run by Christy Dena, who describes herself as  a "universe creator and transmodiologist." She writes, in part:

One of the reasons for the paradigmatic change to cross-media world-creation is the emergence of transliterate creators

[…]One of the problems has been that each of these adaptations and extensions has been seen by the creators as isolated, as paratextual to the original work. The primary work (which can be the contemporary adaptation of an old literary peice), is the center of the creative universe…and all other mediums are satellites and inconsequential. This is a mono-medium-logic that is gradually giving way to a different paradigm of creations across media.

[…]The point I’ve been championing is that tie-ins are not always conceived as exterior to the storyworld to those experiencing it. […] If tie-in writers think that the expansion across mediums means the work should be assessed and experienced differently then we have problems. It is perhaps another reason why transliterate creators and taking care of all of the points-of-entry in different mediums themselves. The mono-medium logic of tie-in writers is best evidenced in their logo:


I’m not saying that all writers have to become transliterate…just the ones that work in the business of creating cross-media worlds.

I like to think of myself as reasonably intelligent…but I have no idea what the hell she is talking about. Could someone please translate it into English for me?

19 thoughts on ““Tie-in Writers and the Mono-Medium Logic Problem””

  1. Ummm, does that mean that tie-in writers should be well grounded in the intricacies of the different media they work in? probably not. Plus, it sounds too simple. Snake oil salesmanship has come a long way in the 21st century.

  2. Why she had to be so hideously wordy about it, I’ll never understand, but here’s my run at what all this stuff means.
    There are more than a few TV universes that are followed up in other media. Comics, movies, books, etc., etc. And that’s awesome.
    But, the creators of these universes (and apparently the tie-in writers, too, if the quote she borrowed from you there is any indication) consider the original medium to be the “official” one. If the books contradict the TV show, no one’s going to pitch a fit. After all, this is the extended universe. It doesn’t need to mesh exactly, right?
    Unfortunately, the fans (the ones who buy all this stuff) disagree. The way she phrases it, “People perceive worlds, not books.” When a fictional world is in contradiction with itself, it’s annoying, extended universe not withstanding. While, as you say when she quotes you, it may be fiction, not getting all the occurrences and characters of a single universe to agree with each other just looks bad. It makes it appear that the writers of the different media don’t care about the characters or don’t care about their research or both. Either way, it’s not a very good way to market oneself.
    However, (as you also point out in the quotes) there are some genuine roadblocks standing in the way, like the varying production times for different media. Getting a book and a TV season created are totally separate processes and they take two completely different amounts of time.
    Her solution? Get somebody who can run interference for the writers in all the different media. And get all those writers in on the process at the start, and keep them in the loop as the fictional universe grows. This would mean that not only would the extended universe agree with the “official” medium, but the tie-in creators (books, games, comics, movies, whathaveyou) would be actual and official contributors to the universe’s growth. It would also require the “official” medium to comply with the canon added in by the extended universe.
    She does note that this would take a very dramatic shift in the way that television specifically is created and produced right now, and that it certainly won’t happen overnight. But she’s not asking all writers of everything everywhere to make their work accessible to other media. She is saying that if those who plan to market a fictional world on more than one media platform did, people would probably give a lot more credence to the extended universe than they currently do.

  3. Yeah, I think you’re gonna have to go to “man y mono” on this one. To some people, the tightly held pencil in the logo with a man’s muscular forearm could represent the repression of all other people who would like to riff on previously created characters and universes, morphing them into whatever medium that trips their triggers. This also reads like some pseudo-intellectual pretext for stealing original characters and plopping them into a video game or some other format. This babble also seems to indict tie-in writers for not thinking outside the box of whatever medium is paying for their pencil scribblings, for not providing cross-medium entryways.
    This appears to be laying pipe to justify plagiarism, IMHO.
    But just because readers or viewers or interactive experiencers think it’s all one-big-happy-fictional-universe does not mean the creators holding the original pencil can be forced to give up their ownership of their basic intellectual property. Crossing the thresholds of media formats will always be the official domain of the copyright owners, no matter how “mono” they seem to the proudly unoriginal plagiarists who feel they can deride, insult, and sway the “pencil arms” into giving up their hard-earned property to the multimodal masses.

  4. And one more thing, there is an assumption in the piece that writers always know in advance that their story’s universe will be adapted into other media so they had better get control of all possible formats in order to serve the pickiest fanatical fans. Well, in a perfect world, i.e, The Matrix, the writers would, indeed, have that kind of omnipotent cross-universe power, wouldn’t they? As you once said, Lee, “This is fiction, folks. Relax.”

  5. Okay, this is largely off-topic, but since you brought up tie-ins…
    I just got a review copy of Max Collin’s tie-in for Criminal Minds. Of course, since he wrote the book, Mandy Patinkin (who plays the lead, Gideon) had a meltdown and quit the show. As a tie-in writer, does that make you pull your hair out?

  6. You bring up an interesting point, David. In Christy Dena’s perfect world of “transliterate” creations, would the publisher have to pulp all the copies of the book and start from scratch to sustain consistency across all media platforms? Probably so…costing the publishing tens of thousands of dollars…and only to satisfy the most obsessive (and unrealitistic) of fans.
    What these overly-obsessive fans don’t understand is that TV shows and books deal with fiction characters but are produced and published in the real world…and therefore are subject to real world situations. TV shows, and the people who create and write them, are at the mercy of lots of forces beyond their control…like stars who quit, or get sick, or get hit killed…or sets that are ruined by fire, storm, etc. It’s not always possible to stick to the “canon” or “transliteration” when the reality of life or nature or the marketplace intrude.
    And yes, I’m sure Max pulled his hair out. But he’s used to it. Often he has had to write novelizations based on first draft movie scripts…and without a peek at a single frame of film…and then the movies are rewritten or reshot after his book is already in galleys.
    This is the plight of the tie-in writer, one all the fan-musings about a perfect world of total consistency across all media platforms can’t change.
    (Thanks, Alice, for the translation of Christy’s post into English).

  7. J Michael Straczynski is the only producer/creator who, I believe, has gone to links to make sure all formats(series, novels, comics) fit into a cohesive whole.

  8. But even Joe couldn’t stick to his long-range plans for the series when the studio made him fire the star of B5 after the first season. He never forsaw that, no matter how much he rewrites his own history now (or that one of his actresses would quite several seasons later, forcing yet another adjustment in his long-range arc). Lee’s point that creators are at the mercy of reality is well taken and one fans refused to accept. Creators can create their universes but they have to make major, mid-stream adjustments when actors quit or are fired, networks make changes, or new producers come on board. I doubt that Star Trek is consisent across every episode of The Original Series, the Animated Series, The Next Generation, DS9, Voyager or, most of all, Enteprise (and their long arc about the devastating attack on earth that was never, ever mentioned in the other preceding series). I also doubt Star Trek and the thousands of TV episodes are consistent with all the novelizations of episodes and movies and the countless original tie-ins and spinoffs. The same goes for Star Wars. And it’s ridiculous to expect them to be consistent just to satisfy the most obsessive of fans. It won’t ever happen.


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