GUIDE – Common Characteristics of New Media Storytelling

Here are some characteristics that distinguish new media storytelling as a subset of digital storytelling.

TOPIC: The story is based on an emotional truth from the storyteller’s personal experience (regardless of whether the story is literally true).

PURPOSE: The storyteller’s primary purpose is to share a personal experience that the audience can relate to or learn from, in a way that expands what we know about human nature. (If the purpose is to persuade audiences to reconsider their views on an issue, then by definition that’s not storytelling.)

MODE: The story is conveyed through dramatization, not through a single narrator’s description. In other words, the story follows the conventions of drama by using characters, dialogue, setting, props, and so on to enact the story through a sequence of scenes.

PLOT: The main character’s emotional journey follows a familiar plot pattern that represents how the character grows or changes (regardless of how the scenes are arranged).

STRATEGIES: The story uses strategies from cinematic storytelling to establish a mood, build suspense, create tension, and communicate other elements of the plot, rather than strategies better suited to oral or written storytelling.

APPROACH: Characters, scenery, and other visuals are shown in motion through animation, audio + visuals, screencasting, or live video.

SCENE COMPOSITION: The story is presented through a series of scenes, and each scene is composed of multiple shots that make use of different camera angles, framing techniques, and other strategies audiences typically expect from cinematic storytelling.

ARRANGEMENT: Scenes are arranged in a sequence that heightens the dramatic impact of the storyteller’s experience (which may or may not reflect the chronological order of events).

MEDIA: The story was assembled with sounds and visuals created by the storyteller or modified in compliance with the rules of fair use.