Make it Happen for

“How To Story”.

Crowdfunding a book on storytelling for broadcast and online journalists.


It all starts with a story…

Telling stories is hard. Very hard. As a journalist you have to make tough choices every day: what’s the angle of my story, who should I quote and how do I tell a compelling story that will stand out in the daily stream of news stories?

Storytelling is a craft, it’s hard work. But you can learn it. In October last year authors Tim Verheyden, Tom Rumes and Andries Fluit published ‘How To Story’, a guide full of tips, tricks and storytelling techniques to push the boundaries of broadcast journalism in tv news stories and online packages.

However Tim, Tom & Andries focussed on Dutch speakers, because, well, they speak Dutch. But after reading it we had the feeling that this book could appeal to a much larger international audience. So we asked them a simple question: ‘Where’s the English version?’

Crowdfunding a translation.

So now, Tim, Tom & Andries are hoping to put out a version fit for English speakers. To make the book as good as the Dutch original they need a translator. And they’re costly. Because they do an awesome job! But still, costly… That’s why they are launching a campaign on Indiegogo, hoping you’ll want to help them put out a book that we believe is a great tool for starting journalists, curious storytellers and experienced reporters who’d like a fresh take on things.

Contributions start at 15$. For that amount you get a PDF version of the translated book and endless gratitude from the ‘How To Story’ team.

From 30$ on you get a printed version of the translated book and above that amount they offer story feedback, trainings and workshops.

You can find more details on their Indiegogo page.

Our opinion: Do it. 15$ is a crazy good deal for a book packed with storytelling experience for journalists.


About the Book:

Storytelling is more than putting beautiful shots in the right order and hoping for a good story. How to Story helps you pick the right platforms to distribute your story and offers tips that make your story stand out. It analyses the characteristics of a well told story and is not just useful to journalists but to marketeers and filmmakers.

How To Story is a very practical book, supported by examples and interviews with Bob Sacha (award winning multimedia producer, City University of New York), Adam Westbrook (digital publisher), Björn Soenens (Editor in chief broadcast news VRT Belgium, author) and Kris Hoflack (Editor in chief broadcast news VTM Belgium), etc.

Content

In ten chapters the authors share their passion for visual stories and make you rethink the role of journalism today.

Introduction:

We take you back to the Arab Spring of 2011. Tim was in Egypt, on Tahrir Square, the center of the uprising. Without a cameraman but a lot to capture, Tim started filming with his iPhone and a small camera. That moment he understood the difference between reporting and storytelling.

Chapter 1: Well, whatever. Never Mind.

Stories make us feel things: love, pain, hope, anger, etc. They can even change you! To know how stories work we have to understand what a story does to our brain, how we process a well told story. This chapter is about the science of storytelling.

Chapter 2: If a dog bites a man, that is not news. If a man bites a dog, that is news.

How do you find good stories? How can you be creative? How do you build on existing stories to create your own? And how do you avoid idea killers? This chapter is all about ideas and how to make good stories out of them. Besides tips and tricks in this hands-on chapter we talk about different forms of journalism, like constructive journalism, and about finding the right angle for your story.

Chapter 3: By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

How often do you start filming without not fully realising what the story is about? In chapter 3 you’ll learn about the importance of a good baseline, decent research, a shot list, the backstory of your characters and the filmmaking style. Preparation is key to making your project work. And it comes in handy when you’re on a deadline. You’ll also find tips and tricks to help you avoid pitfalls.

Chapter 4: The Universe is made of stories, not atoms.

What’s a good technique to tell your story? Fly on the wall? Reporter driven? In this chapter we focus on different forms of narrative, based one of the most important things in every story: a compelling character. We combine the art of asking the right questions with the right form of storytelling.

Chapter 5: There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it.

The point of telling a story is to have a point. And you have to guide your viewer towards it. It all starts with a good story, but then you have to tell it right. In this chapter we discuss a much used model, the three-act structure, also known as the dramatic arc. In its simplest form: beginning, middle and end. You’ll learn the importance of a strong starting scene, how conflict fuels your story and if there’s difference between the inciting incident and plot point one. After this you should be able to recognize the pattern and flaws of a story. And then the fun starts: building compelling stories. Once you own the rules, forget them. French moviemaker Jean-Luc Godard said: ‘A story should have a beginning, a middle and an end … but not necessarily in that order’.

Chapter 6: Show, don’t tell

What, who, when, where, how. Every piece starts with these five simple questions. This chapter helpt you sculpt them into a televised item, following the inverted piramid method. A scenario and shotlist are helpful tools in conveying the story visually, so that it sticks and doesn’t just fade away in the news stream.

Chapter 7: Techniques, a necessary evil

Choosing your film equipment can have a major impact on how you tell your story and how the viewer percieves is. In this chapter we help you choose the right equipment for every situation, be it inconspicuous point-and-shoot smartphones or high end cinema cameras that let you create an intimate canvas of your character.

Chapter 8: Don’t dissolve me

Every edit is lie. Editing is directing all over again. You can’t fix a bad story in post, but you can make a strong story even stronger. We talk about editing tools and, more importantly, what the effect is on storytelling. What’s the importance of sound and music? Or the lack thereof? Forget the wipes or cross-fades in non-fiction reporting. Kill your darlings or cherish that end quote. It’s about knowing your ending before you start editing, trail and (t)error, and starting over again … and again.

Chapter 9: F*ck the format

These are exciting times for journalism. Technology and news are intertwined. Just bringing the facts isn’t enough anymore. The past ten years new types of journalism have emerged. Think of mobile journalisme and interactive documentaries. Remember Snowfall? New York Times’ piece is a starting point of sorts. Today it has evolved in immersive stories or gamification. With this revolution came new distribution platforms like YouTube or Snapchat, and content aggregation tools, but also new ways of media consumption. To keep its relevance, journalism has to evolve. Storytelling has to do the same. In this chapter, we take a good look at non-linear storytelling techniques so your stories can get even more compelling, ready to survive online.

Chapter 10: Ask your money back

In this concluding chapter we urge you to watch and learn, to practice and make a lot of mistakes. And then throw away the book. Because you’ll need to develop a storytelling style that suits only you. But you might want to keep the part where we summarize ten essential tips we covered in the book.


Disclaimer: Tim Verheyden & Andries Fluit are very good friends of me. Together with Tim, I launched a series of workshops called “Storytooling”, combining the best of ‘How to Story’ & ‘Journalism Tools’. Most of the text in this post is taken from their indiegogo campaign page.

Ezra Eeman, founder Journalism Tools.