Storyencoding

If the storyform is the skeleton, the story encoding is the meat. Let's take a single storyforming appreciation and see how encoding can flavor its meaning. Suppose the goal of the original story is to obtain the stolen diamonds. Without changing the storyform, we might adapt that to obtaining the stolen gold. We could also change it to obtaining a diploma, obtaining someone's love, or obtaining the office of President of the United States. Each and every one of these examples has a goal of obtaining, but each also has a different flavor depending solely upon the encoding.

Often, encoding is more important to an audience than anything else. Encoding determines the setting, the subject matter, the size and scope of the issues. Substituting stolen gold for stolen diamonds would probably be interchangeable to most audience members. Substituting obtaining a diploma would not.

Encoding is the first stage that is open to authors' interpretation. As such, it is important to fully illustrate the original story's storyform completely, so that all the specific symbols used by the original author can be documented. Then, the process is to sort through the list, see which are essential, which are peripheral but must be given lip-service, and which can or even should be cut, due to the specifics of the new medium.

It is important to note that when delving into this much detail, it is easy to miss the forest for the trees. For example, if we elected to change "stolen diamonds" to "stolen gold" but still had our Main Character working for De Beers, we might have created a problem.

This is not to say that every encoding appreciation must be consistent with all the others in flavor. In fact, many stories are appealing simply because the juxtapose contrasting symbols. The key is to make sure you maintain the same relationship between the flavors. Much like adapting a recipe for a culinary feast, you might substitute salt for sugar, but then you must also substitute vinegar for sour cream. The overall flavor would be completely different, but the relationship between flavors is maintained. That level of pattern-recognition is well within the grasp of most audiences. How many times has The Simpsons replicated famous scenes from famous movies in a completely different context? This works because the internal relationships remain consistent.

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