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The Art of the Digital Narrative: Part I

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10  Steps Essential to creating a great digital narrative:

ONE:  Move the cat (metaphorically speaking). Ignore the doomsayers who claim that complex and well-written narrative cannot thrive on the web. They’re wrong. It’s as simple as that.

TWO:  Transcend the linear. Stop thinking solely in 2 dimensions.  Stories unfold in multiple directions. They always have.

THREE: Take photos and/or video clips every time you report, whether you believe you’re going to need them or not. As you do so, think beyond the literal: In addition to the obvious, also photograph (or record) people, details, objects, moments in action, that could illustrate the subtle aspects of your narrative-to-be. For instance, what image could augment your theme? What small visual detail could further deepen your readers’ understanding of a character, or of an emotional turning point in your narrative?

FOUR:  Develop a strong structural strategy early. Allow it to evolve. Toss it and start over if necessary.

FIVE:   Link, converge, network, interact.

SIX:   Cultivate your inner techno geek, but also remember what George Orwell wrote in 1946:  “Good prose is like a windowpane.” So is a good narrative. This is an essential concept to grasp if you want yours to rise above the digital cacophony.

SEVEN: All the elements of great literary journalism apply: character, context, conflict, detail, dialogue, action, arc, voice.

EIGHT: Report, report, report. Gather more facts, quotes, observations, details, anecdotes and images than you think you can use. Pour over them relentlessly until you see patterns. Without solid intellectual content, a narrative—digital and otherwise, no matter how many bells and whistles are employed—is a glittering but empty container.

NINE: Choose a story that matters and have the courage to bear witness.

TEN:   Proceed fearlessly:  Telling a good story well is a sacred task.