This week I’m reviewing another chapter by Joe Lambert in his book Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community. In this chapter, titled Seven Steps of Digital Storytelling, he gives us an in-depth look at how to actually create a digital story, and the components that we need to consider as we put together our own digital story.
There are a number of thoughts and ideas from Lambert’s book that struck me, and I wanted to reflect on a few of them. First is the idea of “Owning your insights”, or finding what the point of the story means to me as the storyteller. It’s important that we believe in the insights of the stories that we’re telling, otherwise there will be an in-authenticity to it. We need to understand and express the meaning of the story in a way that leaves a lasting impression, otherwise it will soon be forgotten. This expression doesn’t need to be flashy or overly produced. I believe people know and appreciate when a storyteller really believes in what they are saying, whether it’s the tone of their voice, or the sharing of either difficult or joyful moments.
Lambert also talks about “Owning Your Emotions”, or knowing and experiencing the emotions that prompted us to tell the story in the first place. It’s the emotions that will connect us with our audience, and sometimes it can be the most difficult part to include in the story. A story without the emotion is just a description. It can be any number of emotions that make a story memorable: fear, happiness, sadness, a sense of beauty, pride, hatred, love, or others. And contrasting emotions can be highlighted within the same story. For example a great sense of sadness can give way to pride as someone overcomes a debilitating loss. The emotions can be subtle or blatant, but they make the listeners feel that the time they invest in listening to your story worthwhile.
I very much liked the quote from W.D. Wetherell, “A story isn’t about a moment in time, a story is about the moment in time”. As Lambert shares, the story should be about that moment when change came into our life. It may be that one moment when everything changed, or it may be that point some where down the road where we finally understand the meaning of the moment and how it changed us. This moment of change is what our audience wants to hear. How the events of the story changed us will reflect on how it will change the understanding of the listener. We walk into a room one person, and we walk out a different person.
Lambert also shares a number of insights into the structures of stories, such as how we see our story (visually), how we hear our story (the voice-over, music, etc.), and how we sequence our story. All of these dimensions of our stories are important to consider as we construct our story, and it was good to reflect on them in depth. I would recommend reading this chapter to anyone considering developing digital stories of their own.