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The Seven Steps of Digital Storytelling

Digital storytelling can be divided in to seven steps:

The first step of digital storytelling, owning your insights, means finding the meaning behind the story you are telling. You want to think about why you are telling the story and what you want the focus of your story to be.

The details you choose to include can take a broad story and narrow it down to a more specific focus. Be aware of the purpose of the story you are telling, and do not skip details that are important to the story.

The second step, owning your emotions, is exactly what it sounds like. Emotions have a great power in storytelling, and choosing to share those emotions in the story creates a even more grabbing tale.

You want to reflect on which emotions you experienced in the story you are telling and also consider which emotions would help tell the story to your audience. This will help you tell the story better while making the audience have a stronger connection to the story.

The third step, finding the moment, has to do with picking a pivotal moment of change or a moment that stands out apart from any normal moment in our lives. We can all think of a time where we experienced a life changing realization or moment that we will not forget for one reason or another and those can make for the best stories.

Seeing your story, the fourth step, makes you think about what visuals are coming out when you tell your story. You want to think for each portion of the story about what these images convey in terms of emotion and underlying mood.

Visuals have a lot of importance in a story, and much of creating an accurate visual is in the details. A storyteller can also include photos or visuals of any kind in books or blog posts to show the reader exactly what the writer is describing while letting their mind do the rest.

If I were to write a book about adventures in my first car, I may put an actual photo of the car in the book, but let the rest be created in the reader’s mind.

The fifth step, hearing your story has a lot of power in digital storytelling. In a digital story, you can include voiceovers and background noise that could simulate what you heard at the time of the story you are telling.

What you choose to include as sound can effect the mood of the story, and how the storyteller chooses to voice the story, such as the tone of his or her voice, has just as much influence as the words.

The sixth step, assembling your story is how you choose to present it. You have to ask yourself what parts of the story need to be included and which parts are just extra details.

Think back to the direction you wanted your story to go in the first place. How can you structure your story in a way that tells your story the way you want it to be perceived?

The seventh and final step to digital storytelling is sharing your story. At this point, revisit your plan from the beginning. Who are you telling the story to and how? You may want to provide context as the story is presented if it is unclear or you can let the story tell itself.

Source: Lambert, Joe and Brooke Hessler. Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community (5th ed.). New York: Routledge, 2018.

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