The rules for digital stories have changed. Story themes that go viral have created a new set of rules. But the first rule that still applies--is your story compelling? The six elements that work together to make this happen are: the message, content, visual images, color, action and timing.
Timing is more than the length of the story, it also represents viewer’s attention. This is one reason I keep my daily blogs down to 500 words, that is about 2-minutes of reading time out loud. My blog competes with thousands of other blogs for not just your attention–but your time.
Digital stories have more elements to combine than regular storytelling, so the timing is very important in both presentation and delivery. I cannot emphasize enough that a digital story should be created and developed on a storyboard—yesterday’s lesson. A storyboard helps to craft and develop how the six elements bring continuity and appeal to attract visitors to your site.
Remember, that it is the message not the story you are really trying to deliver. If this is a strategic story then the message has a call to action for a response step. It all begins with your script. Scripts are generally written in font 12 and double spaced. Depending on the script, one page formatted in this matter could be equal to one-minute or more.
An actor can be a narrator’s voice, an actual person, an animated character, or even an object. The story will have a certain pace to emphasize points towards your message. Back in the 1980’s, John Moschitta, made several commercials for different companies. He was known as the fastest speaker on record. Here is an example of a 1980, 30-second commercial he made.
The fast pace kept the viewer’s attention because it motivated the listener to pay attention to the words. Had John spoke at a normal speed this probably would have been a one-minute commercial. The hook was John’s pace and lack of pauses, it forced the listener’s attention and was quite successful.
When to release your story is another timing issue. If your digital story is for brand marketing or sales then Thursday’s and Sundays are the best days to reach customers surfing on the Net. If your story pertains to a current event then releasing the story as soon as possible will be important. Adding twitter hash marks will help . During the day, the best times for release are between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on the West Coast. These times will vary across the world depending on highest commuter traffic.
Rehearsal is probably the last important key to timing. I enjoy the character Data, an android character, on the Star Trek Next Generation series. In this clip, Data is trying out his joke to Guinan (played by Woopie Goldberg). What this clip will illustrate is that you can have quality material, but if timing is off, you lose reliability. In humor that’s the punch line. In Digital Storytelling that’s your message.