Secrets Of Great Story-Telling
January 25, 2011
Content ... riveting, compelling, heart-rending, hilarious content ...surrounds you every day.
Your job is to look for it, to recognize it when you see it, and to be able to shape it into a story that is broadly relevant to your target. Your job is no different than Elizabeth Gilbert's when she wrote Eat, Pray, Love.
But it may be tougher than hers, because while she has editors who prune and chop before publication, your story-telling is live.
Your editing should start before you open the microphone, but to be a successful -- and irreplaceable -- air talent in the age of PPM, you must have an internal alarm clock that blares loudly the instant your story begins to bore or repeat.
Be honest. When you listen to other stations, or dayparts at your station, you hear one of two things these days -- vacuous, but brief, liners ... or rambling, self-absorbed, comedian-wannabees that drone on and on and on.
I think the ability to be a great story-teller, to know how to relate naturally to your listeners is a real talent. I'm not sure that can be taught.
But the inner clock, recognizing a great emotional payoff and understanding that is your cue to shut up and let the music do its magic ... that can be taught and learned. My late friend, Jay Trachman, devoted his life to the skill and he was a wonderful teacher.
Wordiness, irrelevance, a lack of discipline ... these are why your PD won't trust you.
So, until this skill is second nature, do what Jay preached: write the ending first.
Understand the emotion you want me, as the listener, to feel, and write the last sentence that produces that feeling.
Hone it. Edit it. Walk away from it ... and read it again an hour later. Make it perfect.
Because you can.
You have that luxury before you turn on your mic.
And once you have that perfect, emotional tag, work backwards, and tell me the story it ends as directly and concisely as you can while sounding natural.
Until you can do that, you can't be trusted with unlimited time in a PPM world.