February 26, 2014 | Category: Blog, Resources | Author:

Weekly roundup: Story shapes, the imagination, and visual storytelling resources

THE SHAPES OF STORIES: Novelist Kurt Vonnegut’s rejected master’s thesis described the “shapes” of stories. Here, graphic designer Maya Eilan makes a clever infographic out of Vonnegut’s thesis. Or if you prefer, here’s a 5-minute video of Vonnegut himself giving a talk, in his signature funny style, about the idea.

IMAGINE THAT: In his book The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human, Jonathan Gottschall writes that the “average daydream is about fourteen seconds long and [we] have about two thousand of them per day. “In other words, we spend about half of our waking hours — one-third of our lives on earth — spinning fantasies.” Or as he summarizes it on his website: “Human bodies are stuck on earth, but our minds live in Storyland.  By the time we die, we will have spent more time in the provinces of storyland (novels, plays, TV shows, songs, dreams, fantasies, and so on) than anywhere else.” That is what change-makers are tapping into when we tell stories.

VISUAL STORYTELLING FOR CHANGE-MAKERS: The average attention span online is 8 seconds, or maybe less. That’s not a lot of time to hook the attention of your would-be supporters and reel them in; to do so requires effective visuals, not just text. That’s according to the folks at Resource Media, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that helps change-makers communicate better. They have an online “Visual Story Lab,” with resources such as a tip sheet on creating effective infographics and a guide on best practices in visual storytelling. If you want to dive in further, check out the webinar that the organization’s leaders recently did with the Communications Network. Especially useful on the webinar and in the lab are the examples of good and bad infographics, and in the “best practices” guide they had useful tips on how to “market-test” certain visuals against others on email or Facebook.