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Good reads: defining the story

Rep: 38
Kevin Wellenius July 6, 2010, 10:59 a.m. permalink

One of the things I've always strugged with is articulating the core of the story I'm working on. Without a solid understanding of the "narrative arc", I end up wasting a lot of time in the field and in production.

Below are three resources I've found really useful in helping pin down the story. They are either from radio or text storytellers, and I'm still figuring out what is applicable to visual storytelling, and what isn't (most is, but not all).

1. Alex Blumberg's "manifesto" on Alex employs a "formula" in which his students are required to fill in the blanks: "I'm doing a story about 'X', and what's really interesting is 'Y'." See the full piece for lots more insights.

2. Ira Glass' four-part interview on storytelling. He discusses the need for both plot (anecdote) and meaning (reflection), and how the strongest pieces need to have discussion of both *what* happened and what it means, not only to them but in some broader, "Big Idea" context. He contributed a chapter on this idea to the recent book, Reality Radio, which I will review here when I finish it.

3. Jon Franklin's Writing for Story is a treatise on the classical story framework: a sympathetic character confronts an important complication that they work to resolve, and are changed or learn something in the process. He includes his two Pulitzer-winning feature stories as a basis for discussion. One of the earlier chapters is just about looking for stories, developing them, and testing whether in fact they're "stories" at all.


Rep: 87
Michael Fagans July 7, 2010, 4:30 p.m. permalink

RKH over at Multimediashooter has a nice piece on the immediate "tail" a video has and possible solutions to holding your viewers attention:

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