Concise and well articulated pointers on storytelling from the host of This American Life.
These videos are a couple years old but worth rewatching. Ira discusses the building blocks of storytelling with broadcast in mind (tv and video), but most of what he talks about isn't tied to any medium. I've included some notes I jotted down below each video.
Building blocks of stories in broadcast :
- Anecdote - Simply a sequence of actions. Audience feels momentum. Builds suspense. The story is taking them to some final destination.
- Moment of Reflection - Explains the big point. Why am I listening/watching this?
Raise lots of questions. Use them as bait. It is implied that questions you raised will be answered.
You thought a story was going to be good, but the feeling you had about it isn't in the footage. Be super-ambitious, kill your medicore work.
You have good taste but for the first couple years the stuff you're making isn't so good. You recognize this. Do a huge volume of work to close the gap between the quality of your work and your ambition.
What's interesting isn't just a person's take on things, but their interaction with others. Interaction creates drama.