Center’s Storytelling Form


Viewing the stories at the Center for Digital Storytelling, I looked for the story elements that were used in common to shape and structure the different stories. (Structure) The stories tended to start out with a title. (Structure) Then, the storyteller would relate a memory or anecdote about where they were they were in life. (Structure) The anecdote gave the reader background for the story the storyteller wanted to tell. (Rhetorical) Next, the storyteller would describe experiences that had been influential in their life. They would then talk about what helped them deal with the conflicts involved in those experiences. (Structural) The stories ended with reflection on what meaning the storyteller took from the described experiences, with an emphasis on the future, (Rhetorical) followed by credits and thank-yous to those who helped make the story and its telling possible. (Technical) The stories were formatted as a combination of narration, music, and images. (Technical) The images changed to work with the narrative as it developed. (Rhetorical) The emphasis on the music often changed throughout each piece, adding inspirational music to an optimistic ending or adding songs at an emotional moment. (Rhetorical)


The Center for Digital Storytelling Cookbook discusses the Center’s storytelling formula. For each type of story listed, the Cookbook gives questions that direct the writer towards figuring out what meaning they want to convey through their story.  (Rhetorical) It suggests finding a moment to focus the story around, a moment that most clearly conveys the intended meaning. (Rhetorical) I noticed this element of the formula, as it is at the center of the stories, they were constructed around meaningful moments from the storyteller’s experience. (Rhetorical)

The Cookbook instructs the storyteller to give the listener the information necessary to understand the story and to allow the story to develop. (Rhetorical) I saw the anecdote that started most stories as the background information. What I saw as describing what had helped the storyteller through their situation could be more generally seen as development of the story to get at the intended meaning.

Images are to be selected by visualizing what comes to mind when thinking of the moments of the story. (Rhetorical) The relation between the sounds of narration, music, and effects is to be considered to add to the story’s sense of space and emotion. Because the sounds had to be necessarily integrated, I noticed their effects, but while I recognized that images could have a connection to the story’s subject, I did not fully recognize the way they could be composed and integrated with other images and the sound of the story.

-Kevin O’Leary


~ by k2theiso on February 14, 2011.

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