Crafting your story: advice from journalists, filmmakers, illustrators – and a tween pop-star

Crafting your story: advice from journalists, filmmakers, illustrators – and a tween pop-star

Firefly HQ

Firefly HQ

The Story, now in its fifth year, occupies a curious spot in the round of conferences, talks and events that punctuates the life of the average creative industries worker. Held on a cold Friday in February in London, there is barely a whisper of the word ‘brand’, let alone ‘strategy’, ‘marketing’, ‘social’ or ‘business’, while tweeting your way through the day is positively discouraged, and the Wi-Fi turned off in the hall.

And yet rare is the person who is not charmed by any day which features the chance to hear from a national newspaper editor, a foley artist, a world expert in making Vines, filmmakers and illustrators, explorers and musicians, novelists and various other ‘people from the internet’, all briefed to do one thing: share their thoughts on how they tell various stories.

It’s not the sort of day where you have immediate takeaways, or playbooks to go and put into action. Instead, the eclectic line up, expertly curated by Matt Locke of Storythings, means you’re bound to come away with much food for thought - mental sustenance for the next few days, months, years.

Your story starts here

Flicking through my notebook of hasty scribbles, I find it hard to discern a common theme. But some things leap out at me upon re-reading: that it’s fun to put spokes into a dominant narrative (Bryony Kimmings, talking about her experience as alternative credible tween pop star Catherine Bennett); that often the best way to get to the emotional truth of something is to embrace the myth (filmmakers Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard); that creativity is generally about connecting the data, putting together two things that haven’t been put together before (illustrator Kyle Bean); that more and more of us need to be seen as people who ‘intervene’ in culture (writer Bill Wasik); that you need to pay attention to your unconscious to find things that resonate with others (author Meg Rossof); that lists are, if done properly, democratic, useful and empowering (BBC controller Tony Ageh); that everybody wants to be seen, heard and understood (artist Lisa Salem).

Not that a conference like The Story would say there is a star turn, but suffice to say that the room was still full as Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, ended the day. As he talked through how the NSA / Edward Snowden story was broken, and the ramifications of its impact, it became even clearer that what we might have once considered stable and successful models for controlling the flow of information - for controlling stories - are now failing, and we are entering a world where journalists will need to learn spycraft, and that there’s no longer any model for editing geographically complex, interconnected stories.

Thinking about it again, actually there was a common theme to the day. It was actually what we were told as we walked in, emblazoned on the notebooks given to us all from the Ministry of Stories: ‘Your story starts here’.

Rishi Dastidar is a copywriter, brand strategist and poet. Get in touch with Rishi on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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