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Article image for So, what is a story? (Story Tip 1)

Posted by Marie Pawsey

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Story is everywhere.  Story can be seen in song and fiction, as well as in non-fiction, blogs and art.  Every day when we say what happened on the weekend or what happened to a relative on holiday, we use story.

Even a news story on television follows the pattern of a story:

  • orientation (the news reader introduces the news item saying where and when it happened and who is involved)
  • complication (the reporter tells us what the problem is)
  • solution (the reporter tells us how the problem is dealt with or what happens because of the problem)
  • resolution (the reporter gives the context of how this report fits in to similar things that have happened before or to things that have happened in this location)
  • coda (the newsreader tells us how we should think about the news story, like should we be angry or sad or happy or relieved)

Some authors say that they start with a character and go on to find out what happens to them.  Perhaps the setting or situation inspires the story.  Another author has said that he actually starts with a point he wants to get across.  My feeling is that a strong story is what makes watchers and listeners want to find out what happens next. 

In just the same way, story brings sense to videos.  When you have a story, you can choose any number of ways of telling it.  Would it be a good animation?  Or better acted out by real people?  Would a documentary style suit the story? Would the characters speak?  Or could the story be told with nothing but visuals and the feelings would be in the sound effects or music?  Could this story be a game?  Would you need voice-over or subtitles?  Try it out loud with a friend – it’s a good way to spot missing steps! 

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