Stories and Their Audiences

Practicing improvisational comedy for a couple of years has granted me the experience of created hundreds, if not thousands, of stories alongside my friends. Along the way, I’ve stumbled upon some principles of storytelling help me to elicit strong reactions from an audience, whether it consists of a two or fifty people.

Make the audience care about your character. If the audience can’t relate on some basic gut level to your character, then everyone is going over their weekend plans in their heads instead of listening to what you have to say. Give your character a very human quality, so they feel like they know the character; ideally, they feel like they have hung out with your character for the duration of the piece. Give us the gritty; others will enjoy ticking off a checklist of virtues and vices

Include enough details to relay your experience on a visceral, nearly-tangible level. By doing so, your audience will vividly imagine your description, basing their image on previous experiences they themselves have had.

Make something interesting happen to the characters. F*** shit up, and so the characters are forced to react. Give them a problem to chew on for a while, make them slog through the muck of life. Everyone wants to see the character suffer. Just a little. Just enough. Alternately, if you prefer a more vapid approach to action, consider including a great many explosions.

Finally, keep it all clear. Make events distinct enough to remember, and don’t rush the story. Each event needs a little bit of unfolding. After something of significance happens, you will have to unpack a suitcase. This suitcase is labeled, “What This Means for Everyone.” Give yourself some time to put every piece of clothing into its proper place in the closet before you move onto your next suitcase, aka your next moments of significance.

If you make the characters relatable, include details, shake up the world a little bit, and let everything unfold at a slow pace, then those watching have no choice but to listen intently.

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About domesticatedanimals

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2 Responses to Stories and Their Audiences

  1. Luke says:

    Reblogged this on Luke & Michael and commented:
    A great article about improvising stories and how to connect to the audience. Concise.

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