Week 12: The 7 Steps to Digital Storytelling

Joe Lambert one of the most influential thinkers in the digital story telling movement once again outlines clearly how to tell better digital stories. The guidance is different that traditional story telling in that the advice is more specific to a more dynamic and feedback oriented story telling format but I believe these guidelines could also make sense in any writing.


1.     Owning your insights: this is one that I completely agree with. Writing needs to be uniquely your own. When I was young I often plagiarized content to be turned in to my teachers, I would mash up other writers content with my own (very post modern) but I would come off and stifled and unauthentic, it was just bad writing. I’m sure all high school teachers can identify a plagiarized piece of writing. Good storytelling must come from true personal insight and that I why owning your insights is such a powerful lesson.

2.     Owning your emotions: This advice is so hard because oftentimes we are not self-aware enough to even know what we are feeling. On top of that our internal dialog might say things like I feel great, I’m so happy. But that comes off as terrible when put down on paper, how can I say I’m happy without say “I’m happy” that writer must dig deep within themselves to convey to the reader that happiness is being self without jus saying it like some fool.

3.     Finding the moment: A writer is always looking for find the moment in time, we do not care about all the moments the protagonist is going though, that’s why in movies we never see people sneezing and looking for tissue or using the bathroom. We know those things happen but what we are looking for is THE moment, we are looking for the moment of action, of change or realization.

4.     Seeing your Story: This is one of the most important ones for me because I’m a visual person, I can see my hero in my mind going through motions. But the truly great writers can not only see their hero but they can see their entire world they are living in and the can tell the reader what is happening in such detail that it was as if the story was unfolding right in front of them.

5.     Hearing your story: I feel very strongly about this one because I consume almost all my books in the audio format. A lot of people look down on me for not reading but to me story are an oral tradition, it’s getting closer to seed of the true story teller. How does it sound when read aloud, I feel that the true test of a good story. It must sound right rolling off the tongue.

6.     Assembling the story: This one is where the works happens the edits and endless reorganization of narrative. This is a time consuming step in the process and possibly the most important one because so many people have stories yet so few people have the patience to assemble their stories.

7.     Sharing the story: I think about this on a lot. Emily Dickenson wrote thousands of poems but in her lifetime she published less than a dozen. If her poems were never read does the mean her writing had any less meaning. She was dead when she truly became famous. The sharing of work is so important but at the same time to me the process of writing is just as important as the reading of the work. I think less than 10% of what I wrote for this class has been read but I still feel that I am getting so much out of this class.