Sunday, March 14, 2010

Some interesting thoughts on story...endings, character and relationship

Well, first of all, massmouth's upcoming slam is linked here. So we are very happy. But check out yourself this amazing collection of links on storytelling from Gregg Morris   at  What's Your Story?  I have picked a few faves to highlight here.

"'s important to focus on the end. We remember the whole in terms of what happens at the end. With the colonoscopy research they found that just leaving in the tube for longer and not wiggling around too much gave people a happier ending. It's no coincidence then that a common plot structure is one where the story builds to a strong ending.
You can use this type of plot structure to plan and deliver a presentation so everyone remembers the experience. Of course a good memory of the event happens when the last thing you did is satisfying."

What is Characterization?

A storyteller uses characters to help communicate the key themes in a story. You’re the key character in your story, but there are undoubtedly others too — the people in your contact network, your colleagues and clients, mentors, family and friends, idols and heroes.
Characterization involves using the information you have about yourself to best effect in giving others a clear picture of you.

Building Your Character

If you were to think of yourself as a character, you can see that the information you choose to distribute about yourself, and the means you use to distribute it, will help others build a perception of you.
A storyteller selects crucial defining information about their characters and focuses on communicating that clearly, in a way that suits the character. We can do the same to build our personal brands efficiently.
Applying characterization techniques in personal branding is less a question of, for example, avoiding mentioning that you eat dinner at an unfashionable restaurant each week than it is about meeting your audience’s desire to know you in the most effective way.
We all know that there’s a plethora of options for communicating your character though personal branding, including:
  • the channels you use
  • the language you use
  • your profile data
  • the photos you publish of yourself and others
  • your interests, pastimes, and the topics you focus on, including links and other content you promote
  • your frequency and depth of public engagement with others
  • the places you like to visit or meet others
The other side to the characterization coin is to work out which pieces of information most clearly define the key aspects of your character. Few of us have time to transmit every piece of the minutiae of our days or nights, so we need to choose what we’ll communicate. How do you know what will best illustrate your character to your contacts?
The answer will depend on your character! I usually only communicate about things that I feel very strongly about — topics I’m passionate about — which in itself reflects my character to some degree. You might decide to focus on communicating the things you enjoy or like the most, or information regarding what you feel are the main, or most important, areas of your life. Conversely, you may choose predominantly to communicate about lighthearted, non-serious topics if you’re that kind of person.

Characterization in Practice

Some of my contacts are extremely good at characterization. One, a designer, uses a combination of his blog, Twitter and Flickr to communicate his professional and personal interests in a very coherent form, though at first glance, it may seem fragmented. He uses his blog to chart his creative pursuits and interests, Flickr to illustrate his role as a husband and dad, and Twitter to make brief philosophical comment on the world.
He rarely, if ever, links between the three, so he possibly sees these channels as serving different audiences. But as a friend and creative contact who I follow fairly closely through all these online channels (and see pretty often as well), these efforts combine to make him a very clear-cut character.
Another friend is a computer programmer by day and singer/bassist in a band by night. Between his blog, his Facebook page (he’s just polled his Facebook friends about whether he should cut his hair or not), his Twitter comments (he was recently snapped manning the BBQ at a backyard concert and tweeted the link) and technical articles he writes occasionally, as well as my personal contact with the guy I know and love, I have a clear idea of his character.
Obviously, since personal branding involves a range of channels, consistency of your character across all of these is key, but as my friends’ cases illustrate, it doesn’t mean you have to communicate the same pieces of information across all of those channels. But it may. Ultimately, the way you communicate your character is limited only by your creativity and personal preferences.
However you implement characterization, it will help your personal branding if you think about yourself as a character in your own story. I should help you put yourself in your audience’s shoes, and choose to communicate that character efficiently, effectively, and thoroughly through various channels.
How do you communicate your character online?

What Is Storytelling Without Relationships? (this was exciting because in it, the writer quotes blogger, Laura Packer !)

 Different Ways of Remembering: the Example of Storytelling, Mark Oppenneer writes:

The telling of a story not only suggests the physical presence of a storyteller and an audience, but the relationship that exists between the two, the relationships between members of the audience, the relationship between humans and the land on which they live and in which the action of the story transpires, etc.
Laura S. Packer views storytelling and relationships from a different angle in  Storytelling as connective tissue:
…[T]he shared experience of listening to a story makes the entire audience into one being. The story is the ligament that binds us. … Regardless of the length of the story, the setting in which it’s told, the experience of the teller or the teller’s background, when we tell authentically tell a story it binds audience members to each other and to the teller. Stories are connective tissue in culture and families as well. They are how we identify ourselves, how we know that I am of this group, so this is my story.

Some good things to muse upon as we enter the final phases of our story slam season.


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