March 30, 2016

When you are working on deadline, story frames can help you quickly write clear and easy-to-follow stories. Here are a couple of key story forms.

Tried and True: Setting, Complication, Resolution, Summary

This story frame is easy on viewers’ eyes and ears because the structure is so familiar. You probably heard it in stories when you were a child.

  • Once upon a time … (the setting)
  • Suddenly … (the complication)
  • Fortunately … (the resolution)
  • As it turns out … (the closing/summary)

Upside Down: The What, Background, Main Action, Conclusion

But sometimes, great stories can turn the old traditional story frames on their heads. They can look like this:

  • As it turns out … (what happened)
  • Once upon a time … (the background)
  • Suddenly … (the main action of the story)
  • Fortunately … (conclusion)

Taken from Reporting, Writing for TV and the Web: Aim for the Heart, a self-directed course by Poynter’s Al Tompkins at Poynter NewsU.

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Vicki Krueger has worked with The Poynter Institute for more than 20 years in roles from editor to director of interactive learning and her current…
Vicki Krueger

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