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Tips on Storytelling from Lee Zlotoff

Tips on Storytelling from Lee Zlotoff

Are you a writer, filmmaker or storyteller looking to improve your craft? Look no further! Recently, award-winning writer, producer, and director of film and television, Lee Zlotoff, shared his valuable insights and experiences on the power of storytelling during a virtual meeting with a global audience. Here, we’ve compiled some of his key takeaways to serve as a guide for any storyteller looking to improve their craft.

Whatever story you are trying to tell, it’s essential to keep in mind the audience you’re trying to connect with, i.e., age, gender, culture, etc.  Not all stories will appeal to all people so think carefully about whether the content you’re looking to share will actually resonate with the people you are trying to reach.

To create compelling and relatable stories, it’s important to understand the emotions and motivations of your characters. What do your characters want?  And why?  Answering these questions convincingly will make them more relatable to the audience and help create a deeper connection with the story.

Apart from the incidents or events in your story, make sure you know what it’s about at heart.  For instance, is it a redemption story? A revenge story?  A love story?  A story to inspire or frighten?  Certainly, a story can have many of these aspects but knowing what it’s ultimately trying to convey is crucial to its success.

Audiences can easily detect when a story is not genuine even in a work of complete fiction.  Whatever the core elements or characters in your story, for it to be effective, it’s important to stay true to those and not let tangential aspects distract or dissipate what you’re trying to share.

The urge in storytelling, whether in fiction or nonfiction, is to ‘homogenize’ the events or the characters so as to appeal to the broadest audience possible.  Paradoxically, the more unique and specific your characters and story elements are, the more likely they are to resonate with the greatest number of people.  So, don’t  hesitate to ‘personalize’ your story: often small, seemingly trivial details can have enormous impact.

Every successful story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The relative length of those can vary but if you can’t easily identify those in your story, chances are neither will your audience.

Success in the world of professional storytelling  is often the result of years of hard work and perseverance. And no one who succeeds in it has achieved that without failures– often many of them. So, don’t be afraid to take risks or fear failure.  Fortune favors the bold… and those with the strength to persevere in the face of rejection and adversity.

A good story is often the result of many different perspectives and ideas. Be open to feedback and collaborate with others to create the best story possible.

Advancements in technology have made it easier for creators to reach a wider audience and explore new forms of storytelling. Use technology to your advantage, but be mindful of the oversaturation of content and the need to stand out.

Storytelling can be a powerful tool for creating empathy and understanding. There is nothing wrong with stories that simply aim to entertain or amuse.  But the possibility exists, if you so choose, to do not only that but to also  raise awareness and make a positive impact on society. So, why not consider doing both?

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