Get your story right: the Storytelling Canvas.

Journalism Tools
3 min readDec 29, 2016

Whenever I give a workshop about new tools and formats for storytelling I always start with a good look at what you need first: a story. Without a clear idea of your story it’s hard to pick the right tools to shape it.

So what does it take to create a great story? How do you shape raw information into narratives that touch and engage? What crucial elements should you keep in mind? And how do you make sure it finds an audience?

There’s plenty of good books on storytelling, great storytellers who might guide you, and even more charts…nevertheless I’ve tried to boil some of their wisdom down to a handy worksheet you can use alone or in group whenever your are preparing a new story.


The Five Ws and one H are the basics of any good journalistic story. Each question should have a factual answer. This is not yet a story…rather the information you need to include for your report to be considered complete.


If you want your stories to be relevant and touch people you should know who you are trying to reach. Who are they? What’s their most pressing issue, problem, or desire? Where do they get their info? Who do they trust?


Going from raw information to a strong and authentic story means you have to identify a few key building blocks. Key elements that will allow you to build a universal connection with your audience.

Choose a main character and get to know his/her goals, wishes and desires. Quickly establish the dramatic premise. Indicate the conflict and tap into a universal feeling that answers the question: why should I care?

And an extra lesson from Hollywood screenwriter Syd Field: all drama is conflict. See whether your character’s dramatic need drives the action forward. Either the character drives the action, or the action drives the character.

Finally try to capture the essence of your story in a baseline. Try one sentence or 140 characters.


Most journalists are very good in getting the information and crafting great stories. But these days it’s essential to also consider how you will pack and distribute your story so your audience can find, consume and share it better. How will you draw attention to your story? What format or design will raise interest? On what channels do you expect to connect with your audience?

Hope you enjoy it. Let us know what you think about it.

Storytelling Canvas as PDF:

Storytelling Canvas as PPTX:



Journalism Tools

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