What's the narrative?

 What's the narrative title image

If you genuinely want to grab an audience's attention and are serious about making your video stand out, then it’s not enough to simply have good lighting and filters, no - you need to understand the art of narrative and the crucial formulas that go into making a gripping and ultimately satisfying narrative, that immediately grips the audience.

At Perspective Pictures, we’ve delved into many elements of making a good video great; from toying with vintage, to getting the best from the great outdoors. Now, let’s dissect those all important elements of the narrative.

Idea Rocket make a great summary of what we expect, sometimes fear, and often scratch our heads over, when it comes to structuring narratives. For corporate videos, this can often be more bemusing than anything else, “The phrase “video narrative” is intimidating. It conjures up Shakespearean drama, and script meeting anxiety, but the deep dark secret of corporate video production is that a narrative can be as simple as you want. “Jack and Jill went up the hill…” is a 10-part mini-series rife with drama just waiting to happen. It doesn’t matter what your video sells, markets, or teaches, or if you use animated video, whiteboard, motion graphics, or live-action – the audience is always the same (hint: it’s people).”

There’s a specific set of points that you must focus on when putting together your narrative: the grandly titled, ‘The Eight Point Story Arc’ - coined by Nigel Watt, it’s the classic story structure, a tried-and-tested method, which includes:

  • Stasis.

  • Trigger.

  • The quest.

  • Surprise.

  • Critical choice.

  • Climax.

  • Reversal.

  • Resolution.

 Story book

Ali Hale, in Daily Writing Tips, breaks this down, “Watt said that every classic plot passes through these stages and that he doesn’t tend to use them to plan a story, but instead uses the points during the writing process: I find (the eight-point arc) most useful as a checklist against which to measure a work in progress. If I sense a story is going wrong, I see if I’ve unwittingly missed out a stage of the eight-point arc. It may not guarantee you write a brilliant story, but it will help you avoid some of the pitfalls of a brilliant idea gone wrong.”

Once you read through each explanation, you will understand precisely just how ubiquitous the ‘Eight Point Story Arc’ genuinely is, used in everything from novels to films, it’s the gold standard of narrative structuring.

With the basic formula now understood, it’s time to think of what your foundation is. For example, will it be a personal narrative? Create Video Notebook blog has a neat summation of the personal narrative. If your video is going to feature narration, Chuck Wendig of Terribleminds has a 25-point plan focusing on the narrative point-of-view. There’s a few ways in which you can lay the foundation stone of your narrative.

Finally, when you’ve figured everything out, it’s time to begin the examination stages. Shannon Johnson writes about the simple two-step plan you should execute, starting with the brief, “Although it might seem like this is an easy step to skip, it’s not worth it. Creating a brief allows you and your team to document the answers to really important project questions so everyone involved in creating the video can get on the same page. And that’s ideal, because you know what’s the worst? When you’re three-quarters of the way through the editing process and your boss or colleague wants to completely redo that whole shot where you demonstrate how your gizmo solves global warming.”

We are sure, nay positive, that these nuggets of wisdom will help you create a narrative worthy of Martin Scorsese.