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Storytelling in an era of screen-time

  • Published at 07:23 pm November 10th, 2018
Christian Hodell, Chris Heiser, and Ros Porter with Ed Cumming at the the panel titled “Storytelling” on the second day of Dhaka Lit Fest-2018 Photo: Mahmud Hossain Opu/ Dhaka Tribune

Chris Heiser, publisher and co-founder of The Unnamed Press was speaking at the panel titled “Storytelling”

Moderating the panel titled “Storytelling” journalist and chief TV critic for the Independent Ed Cumming sought to explore how new media affects traditional storytelling.

Speaking at the event, Chris Heiser, publisher and co-founder of The Unnamed Press, said: “Literary books are not mass media anymore.” He noted that the publishing world is looking for new perspectives on stories to tell. 

Lauding the vibrancy of the poetry scene, Rosalind Porter, deputy editor of Granta magazine, highlighted the explosion of young voices, including through spoken word, in storytelling. She claimed that new media allows for poetry to be shared in new ways.

According to Porter, “TV is emulating the form of the novel,” adding that the Scandi-noir genre is not literary but is still entertaining and surprising. 

Noting that independent cinema is difficult to fund in a business-driven market, Christian Hodell, talent agent and the managing director of Hamilton Hodell, said that: “The tail is always wagging the dog.”  

Hodell predicts that the next “big thing” for storytelling in the entertainment industry is the method of program delivery.  

Commenting on the overwhelming amount of screen time the young generation is contending with, Heiser stated that: “Books will always be there to save us from the screen”.

Taking into account that deep literacy involves individuals taking their time and not being reactive as they would be on social media, Heiser said that the empathy literature can build is a form of resistance. 

Porter opined that it has always been a risk to tell stories, adding that that one must write a book for oneself and not think about the response from reviewers and social media. She continued that storytelling has never been for profit, but instead, for cultural sustenance. 

She concluded by saying that aspiring writers should read well-regarded books they have not yet understood, recommending reading in different languages and about different cultures. 

Complementing her statement, Hodell added that to write a novel, one needs tenacity, will and self-belief to work in this business. “It is art, but it is business.”