What kind of stories are we looking for and why?Engaging stories can inspire positive change in ourselves and how we see the world. The healing always starts with a tiny spark, a glimmer of hope in soft, soulful eyes. We, as storytellers can only be ourselves and when it comes to film-making there is really no way to hide. Once again, documentary film-making is indeed a courageous way to make films because it is real and you are really in the middle of it.
Great stories are universal
Great storytelling is about taking a piece of the human condition and conveying it in a unique situation. Break down every little element about what you love about something or someone. Those are “real” feelings you’re having and you have to recognize them in detail in order to tell a great story yourself.
Great stories have a clear structure and purpose
One of our favorite way to develop a compelling story is to use “The Story Spine” formula created by professional playwright and improviser Kenn Adams. Practice with it by simply making up a bunch of different Story Spines as quickly as possible. By crafting a story that you are passionate about because it serves a real purpose, your stories will have bigger impact on the world.
Great stories have a character to root for (an underdog)
People want to root for you (the main character). This might seem straightforward but it’s worth keeping in mind anytime you’re creating a story. Remember to give the people an unexpected hero to root for.
Great stories appeal to our deepest emotions
Psychologists generally agree that there are six basic emotions: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise. The more you understand how and when your own emotional levers are pulled, the more you’ll be able to sharpen those emotions in your stories.
Great stories are surprising and unexpected
What makes contemporary stories compelling are when our perceptions of reality are challenged or changed in some way. Many times topics or themes are surprising and unexpected, leaving the audience thinking about the story well after it is over.
Great stories are simple and focused
We as audiences know a good story when we see or hear one. Often times we might not even realize that we’re adding layers that don’t need to be there. One way to find out if your story is easy to follow is to tell it to a friend or family member who has never heard it before.