Mastering Digital Storytelling: Story Development

Storytelling holds our attention, creates engagement, and helps us remember. Stories build community and emotional connection. It makes sense of information. Storytelling is an ancient art and a valuable form of human expression. Digital stories use computer-based tools that focus on a specific topic and point of view.

The Story Spine Concept

The Story Spine, originally created by playwright Kenn Adams, is a tool for creating well-structured stories from a series of sentence fragments that prompt responses. It’s also included on the Twitter feed of former Pixar storyboard artist Emma Coats. She shared some of her wisdom about storytelling from working in an animation studio.  Read more in this Gizmodo article about The 22 Rules of Storytelling According to Pixar.  The Story Spine is the 4th rule. This an overview of how it works:

  • Once upon a time…
    The opening introduces the audience to the characters and setting.
  • And every day…
    This is typically what life is like in the world every day.
  • Until one day…
    An incident throws life out of balance.
  • And because of this…
    The central character (the protagonist) starts to pursue a goal.
  • And because of this…
    The first objective is met.
  • Until finally…
    The goal is achieved (not always with the expected result).
  • And ever since that day…
    The meaning of the story is revealed.

Pixar’s Secret Formula for Making Perfect Films | The Art of Film, a video from Insider, illustrates how Pixar creates the magic of storytelling in movies.

The Story Spine for Business

In The Power of Storytelling, I described what inspired me to write and publish a book several years ago. It could be summarized in the following way:

  • Once upon a time…
    My career as a manufacturers’ representative in the gift and apparel industry began in Northern California.
  • And every day…
    I visited customers and prospects, worked at trade shows, and built relationships.
  • Until one day…
    After several years, I was getting bored with the job.
  • And because of this…
    I started writing a book for independent retailers that was based on my experiences and observations.
  • And because of this…
    My clients were happy to participate in interviews and provide relevant information.
  • Until finally…
    My role in their business became more important, and my sales increased substantially.
  • And ever since that day…
    I understood how a different approach could make a positive difference for all of us.

When you’re writing a story, the Story Spine can help you simplify the process and get you where you want to go.

Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.Robert McKee