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4 Principles of Next Generation Storytelling

An excerpt from the Bright Lights, Big Ideas book produced for CES2013 by Publicis Groupe. MSLGROUP’s Chief Development Officer Bob Bejan contributed to one of the big ideas the book explored -storytelling.

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It has been said that stories, like jokes, are only great when delivered well. As storytellers reach new levels of mastery for a new method of storytelling (theatrical, filmed, spoken word), the audience expects more from the telling than mere adequate delivery. They demand new ways to be immersed. Though Hollywood (and advertising and marketing to a lesser extent) has created some of the greatest stories of all time, the telling is still largely linear, with one group controlling the story line and creating structured narratives that have a strict beginning, middle and end to produce an agreed upon theme.

In recent years, the video game industry has been changing the narrative structure, allowing gamers (a.k.a. the audience) to decide their own journeys and destinations. The immersive techniques are a large part of the gaming world’s explosive growth over the past two decades. The stories they tell (even if those stories are about birds angry with a group of structural engineering challenged pigs) are engaging, interesting and relatable.

With the explosive growth of new technologies, formats and storytelling devices, the next generation of storytellers will have to find ways to break through the millions of voices and stories being produced throughout the world (including the rise of user generated content, which has democratized storytelling in ways that hadn’t previously been envisioned). We believe there are five principles that will make, break and remake the telling of the Next Generation Stories. The principles not only apply to brands; they can also be used by Hollywood, the video game industry, celebrities and an emerging source of new stories – apps.

In all cases, the goal is to create stories that endure long beyond the initial telling to create something that hangs in the mind of consumers long after it has been told:

  1. Create Worlds, Not Just Stories.
  2. Dramatic Darwinism: Principle 3: Performative, Not Informative.
  3. Responsive By Design
  4. Stories Spawn, Divisions Destroy.

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