Story is the Key to Watchable Content

September 3, 2020

Story is the Key to Watchable Content

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What is up, you wonderful people. My name is Cody Wanner. And in this video, I want to give you the key to making stuff that people want to watch and want to continue watching once they’ve started watching it. 

The key as you might’ve guessed is story. And you don’t need to go to film school or take classes in storytelling, story writing in order to be a good storyteller. You can. By all means do. I did that and I learned some stuff, but many of us have been telling stories since we were kids and are good at it. But when you take it from just telling a story to your friends, when you’re hanging out over to, “I need to make this video,” it can feel overly complicated, overly complex. It’s really not. I’m gonna try to simplify it as much as possible. So you can just get out, start making stuff, start telling stories that you already have inside of you. 

Using the elements of a story

Traditionally, a story has five main elements: the characters, the setting, the plot, the conflict, and the resolution. Simplified for the internet age, and telling stories on the internet. You need three parts, three components: a hook, an adventure, and a payoff. That in a nutshell is a story. So keeping that framework in mind, you can pretty much put anything you want to in a video, as long as it’s motivated by one of those components. Just a couple of examples. I recently wanted to try something out with my one wheel and zooming in and out in post. And yeah, maybe I could have just put a video out on, on that. And here’s a one wheel zooming in and out in post. But the footage becomes a lot more compelling when I tell you that I’m going to donate blood. And that’s the reason that I’m on this one wheel. These drone shots of the beach. Absolutely fantastic, fun to watch. But again, take on way more meaning, when I set the stage with our family is going out on a trip. This is the first time this summer. Lastly, a slow-motion sequence of donuts out in the wild. Like, yeah. Okay. I guess. But when you know that I was trying to film a thousand dollars worth of donut commercials in a week, it makes that make sense. So whatever you want to put into your videos, you can just think about the storytelling motivation behind why you’re using those shots and how they enrich the story. This is applicable in short form, the whole way up to long-form feature-length. Okay. So whether it’s a 15 second Instagram story or a minute long TikTok, or whether you’re making a feature-length documentary, or just something for YouTube, whatever it is, you need to be thinking about: What’s the hook? What is the adventure that gets to the payoff? If you can just set everything inside of those three parameters, you’re giving yourself a way better shot of getting someone to click, getting someone to watch, getting someone to get interested in what it is that you’re putting out, and then also continue to watch the whole way till that payoff. 

Find a great story and tell it

You hear it so often, “I can’t get started. I can’t make stuff right now. Because I don’t have a good enough camera. I don’t have a good enough setup or lights” or whatever it is. Cameras, lights, production value. They all have their role, but I’ll tell you if the story is good enough. It does not matter what medium it’s told on, people are going to want to hear it, to watch it, to see it, to engage with it. Find a great story and then use the tools at your disposal to tell it. I hope this was helpful if it was don’t forget to subscribe, hit like, maybe drop a comment about how you incorporate story into your short-form, long-form stuff. Would love to engage with you there. Thanks so much for being here. Get out there and tell some stories that matter.

What Makes a Compelling Story?

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Cody Wanner

Cody Wanner is a freelance filmmaker and YouTube creator</a>. After a year of daily vlogging in 2018 he sold his commercial video production company and dove head first into full-time content creation and consulting. He is a proponent of raw, real, vlog style video marketing for businesses and personal brands alike.