Storytelling 101

or the world's smallest course on inventing a story


!Yes you

 

I can see it from a thousand miles distance with my eyes closed that you have a story living inside of you. And believe me - that story wants to come out. Otherwise you would have not ended up here. So grab a pen and some paper, you are ready for take-off.


Start Building

Stories are closely linked to images, so take a pen and start drawing. And no - don't tell me you can't draw because it really, really, really doesn't matter how the image will look like. It's just a bate for the story to believe that you will tell it in the end. 

Here is the only rule: Your image needs to represent the story you want to tell. 


Now that you have defined the heart of your story, you can start thinking about who is part of your story, in which environment it plays, what happens in your story, who might be affected by it and what reactions you would like to trigger. I recommend doing this by asking what I call "little questions":

  • Who is the main character?
  • Is it a boy, girl, teenager, woman, man, both, all of it, someone in-between?
  • What does she*he it for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
  • What's her*his daily routine?
  • Who are his*her friends?
  • Where does she*he live?
  • Is the house she*he lives in big or litte?
  • What's his*her favourite color? What style or design does she*he prefer?
  • Does it matter to her*him to have a big car?
  • What events will shape his*her future?
  • What would you love to spare your character - but won't for the sake of writing a great story instead of a mediocre one?
  • ....

I think by now you got the idea and your brain is on a roll and you can make up as many questions as you want. 

keep building


We've come a long way, now the story needs a structure. Because I am short of space here, I am providing a link to Maya Eilam's infographic depicting Kurt Vonnegut's overview over the most often used storylines. (I also recommend watching Kurt Vonnegut explaining the storylines himself on youtube.) These storylines have been developed over thousands of years, they work and are waiting to be filled with the details you made up above. It is a lot of work - but don't be shy, with a little work you can sort your ideas into a narrative that works. 

add structure

 
TheShapeOfStories.png

Now that you have your content and it's sorted into a narrative, you can creating and testing a couple prototypes. Write your story down, turn it into a comic, make a short video of you telling the story (scary, yes, but you can hide it in your secret folder), write a blogpost, act it out in a video, create a photo story in 6 shots, tell it to your grandmother, child, best friend. Ask them to be constructive and share their feedback. You can then take care of what needs to be improved. 

Now, that your story is in a communicable shape, please don't hesitate to:

prototype
& Test