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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The cookbook on constructing a story

“Stories are the large and small instruments of meaning, of explanation, that we store in our memories. We cannot live without them. So why is it that when many of us are asked to construct a story as a formal presentation to illustrate a point, we go blank?”

Joe Lambert, director of the non-profit Center of Digital Storytelling, puts his finger on the question that so many marketers are wrestling with. We know the value of stories, and best selling marketing books by Seth Godin and Steve Denning offer further proof of their value.

But how do you put together a story?

Next week Janet Swaysland, a Foghound partner, and I are taking a Center for Digital Story telling workshop to learn more -- and actually put together a digital story of how Foghound came to be. I recommend Lambert’s book, The Digital Storytelling Cookbook and Traveling Companion for anyone who wants a helpful “how to.”

In the book Lambert explains that there are seven elements in constructing a story:
  1. Point of view. Stories need to make point.
  2. Dramatic question. What keeps people interested?
  3. Emotional content. How do we overcome something hard part to get what we want?
  4. The gift of your voice. Real person, conversational style vs. the scripted.
  5. The power of the soundtrack. Music can put the story into a clearer perspective, or at least entertain us.
  6. Economy. The hardest part of storytelling. How to tell the story with few words and images.
  7. Pacing. The rhythm of the story is the true secret of successful storytelling.

    PS – My professional story, as you can see in the picture (stop laughing), started when I was a teenager, reporting for the Arlington (Mass.) Advocate.


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