Wednesday, September 12, 2007

What makes stories work

Some important points about why stories work:
  • Stories "hook us" because we want to know what is going to happen next.
  • Stories succeed when what happens next makes sense, is believable, but is not predictable.
  • Stories have heroes or protagonists who change, realize things and grow somehow. If a story is well done, then we ride the journey of transformation with that person. Really powerful stories change not just the people in the story, but the audience as well.
Documentaries can adapt the point of view of the hero in three ways:
  1. The narrator is the "hero" and is changed by the events s/he documents.
  2. The documentary follows a particular person and the transformation s/he undergoes.
  3. We, the audience members, become the protagonist because we change. In this case the 3 points of the story core work as follows:
    • Problem: There is something we don't know about or don't understand.
    • Solution: The documentary provides the information we need to resolve that.
    • Transformation: In the process we see a part of life we did not before, learn things we did not know, understand things we did not understand.

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