Aspects of a Digital Story
Content by Maggie Burch
Converted for the web by Amanda Haislip and Athena Hensel
(printable version here)
Seven Aspects of a Digital Story
These are seven important elements of a digital story that The Center for Digital Storytelling has identified for crafting a compelling story.
- Point of View
Telling your digital story from one perspective can help you decide which content to include and which to leave out. To determine your story's point of view, ask yourself what your story's message is, why it's important to tell it, and who your audience will be.
- Dramatic Question
A dramatic question is posed by the narrator at the beginning of the story to create tension and draw in the audience. A dramatic question is usually not an actual question that the narrator poses; rather, it is an intriguing statement that causes the viewers to ask themselves a question.
- Emotional Content
Stories that include incidences of loss, redemption, crisis, or change are key to keeping your audience engaged and interested. It can be helpful to create a story about an experience that has already been resolved, as perspective plays an important role in being able to clearly examine your past emotions.
A good narrative voice can help give your digital story direction and personality and can make it more powerful than using text only.
Music can be a great way to establish mood and complement your overall message. Choose carefully, however: the wrong music can actually undermine your story. Instrumental music is often the best choice, as lyrics can interfere with your narration or contradict your message.
Keeping your script brief (between 1 and 2 pages) can help you decide what content to include. For a 3 minute digital story, a script of 1 1/2 pages is recommended.
Just as a glacial pace can bore viewers, a rushed story can overwhelm them. To hold your audience's attention, strive for a happy medium; vary the amount of time that images stay on the screen, and use effects such as pan and zoom when appropriate.
Questions to consider to help narrow the focus of your story:
- What is the main question or problem this story will explore?
- What events or experiences occurred that will help to tell this story?
- How did it end?
- How did I feel (in the beginning and at the end)?
- How was my perspective or viewpoint changed?
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