Digital storytelling is all around and yet, until recently, I never really stopped to evaluate it as the tool that it is. Digital storytelling when composed by applying music, images, narration, and interactivity does a great job to inform, instruct, entertain and sell. After reading the Seven Steps Of Digital Storytelling I have learned even more about what makes a great story. This reading has added to a growing toolbox of ideas and resources that I can use when considering composing a digital story of my own.

The reading refers to what I will summarize simply as preparation and impact. It is important to define the destination first then establish how best to get there. Visualizing the story first is an important step when composing a digital story. This process helps to establish the feeling to be delivered through sound, sight, perspective and pacing. I agree with Joe Lambert when he states that we all want stories, and how a great story can cause a moment of reflection in the audience.

When thinking about owning my own insights I realized how important it is to ask deeper, more meaningful questions. It is easy to tell a story about my first car, but how can I create a connection to the audience that creates a memorable experience. Did I use my first car to visit an important place? Did I have an experience with my Dad that later was significant in shaping who I am? How would this story affect the audience? By adding layers to the story by asking deeper questions and investigating or validating my own insights, I can then shape the story to be more effective. As the reading points out, the story can be shaped for a particular audience or a specific time and place.

It is also important to tell the whole story. If the focus is on just a part of the overall story it may not effectively deliver the intended message, if any message at all. This ties together with owning the emotions within the story. How we use emotions in the story affects the audience and it is important that we share the appropriate emotion at the correct time. As I think about this, it is difficult to comprehend. How can I assure that the appropriate emotion is shared so that my story connects with the audience? The reading provides some good examples to help clarify the difference between inference and evidence, and also how leaving out or adding content can be easily interpreted as superficial. The important theme here is to understand your intended audience and to be honest in your delivery.

When searching for the moment that defines a story it is necessary to incorporate how it is we determined this. This moment led to change or transformation, but it will not be well received without supporting evidence. Providing the complete picture helps build an immersive experience for the audience. The reading points out that we don’t want to restrict the audience’s opportunity for discovery, even though we as storytellers provide the conclusion. We want to invite the audience to become part of the narrative.

These aforementioned concepts were somewhat new to me. They are now defined so I can evaluate and apply these concepts to my own digital stories. The reading continues with concepts that are much more familiar to me. The use of visuals, sound, narration, assembly and sharing are all observations that I have made and evaluated in others’ work. As the reading points out, the appropriate use of images and sounds are important when building a cohesive and meaningful story. They both support the narrative and bring balance to the overall story.

“If an image acts as the hand that leads us into the river, the voice is the riverbed below our feet.”

I appreciate that the reading provides some great points to help compose a great story. It is true that we don’t want to give away our story in the first few seconds. Instead, we strive to build upon a series of events that led to a transformative occurrence. Just as important is the idea of limiting assets and creating a rhythm. By limiting the amount of images, video clips, and narration, storytellers are able to focus more on what’s important instead of adding a bunch of fluff that disengages the audience.

This process, as I have discovered, is definitely a journey. I also have to trust my own voice and do what feels right in accordance to the story I want to deliver. There is no doubt that the story I produce is a projection of who I am and how I interpreted a particular situation or event. Like many things in life, digital storytelling takes practice and we must accept that our final product may never be “perfect.” This reading did provide valuable information that can be applied immediately and that will help a great deal as I move closer to composing my first digital story.