(Wherein I continue my attempt to resurrect old ideas and notes of mine for discussion, derision, and non-profit.)

Scribbled in my notes: “Scene-sequel storytelling for framing mental models.”

Scene and sequel are powerful tools in storytelling:

From Helium:

“Scene and sequel are two of the most important components of plot, but they also seem to be two of the least understood. If plot were an engine, scene and sequel would be the pistons powering the drive shaft. Writers striving to turbocharge their writing might want to fine-tune their use of scene and sequel.”

In addition to using scene-sequel for writing fiction, I’ve also found it useful for exploring a user’s mental model (how they go about their day, how they react to events, how they use things, etc…). It helps me figure out where my interactive work will fit into and square with their lives and experiences. Scene-sequel, at a high level, looks something like this:

To see how this works, let’s imagine the mental model for someone who could probably use some sort of skin breakout prevention cream. In true practice, this information would come directly from real interviews, of course.

Look at that. We’ve effectively set the stage for every skincare ad ever created. That’s fine. The devil is in the details, anyway. Conduct real interviews to get real insights. Anyway, let’s continue the example to see how the sequel might play out…

In storytelling, the proportions of the sequel elements determine whether your story is a romance, action-adventure, or a courtroom drama. By interviewing potential customers or users, you can get a sense of these proportions and tailor an experience to match. My example above might be a psychological thriller. Perfect for skincare, right. (Conduct real interviews)

The challenge is that most people don’t get past quandary. And that’s the job of sales and advertising. Ads take advantage of the fact most people have stalled at quandary for things in their life. They remind you of everything in ‘scene’, and then try to help to take the next step. Aren’t they thoughtful?

At any rate, interactive work can take advantage of this as well, with the added benefit that users can actually fulfill an action, be it a purchase, leaving feedback, or posting a photograph. If you’ve structured it right, you’ve actually helped a user fulfill their story by giving them something helpful, something that they needed to get them past their quandrous state. (No, that isn’t a real word, but maybe it should be?)

In the above example, we’ve decided to tap directly into the emotion stage and lead the user through the quandary and decision-making stage to a purchase. The hook could be about how skin breakouts make you feel insecure and self-conscious. For the right audience, that could be perfect. (Conduct real interviews!)

However, if we found that the audience tended to be very product and skin savvy, maybe that’s the wrong spot to target. They are already actively comparing products and skincare techniques with their friends. That would suggest you should tailor the interactive experience around decision-making and action, because they don’t spend much time on emotion or quandary.

How do you fit your work into people’s lives?