Have you ever noticed how every generation thinks new technology is going to ruin the world?
My parents were sure the TV would turn our brains to mush. Their parents restricted “radio time.” Earlier generations thought the printing press would create lazy people who read too much.
It’s a predictable cycle. And I’ve fallen into it.
Despite knowing better, I’m worried. Worried all the storytelling and content hysteria has numbed our brains. Worried we’re manipulated by algorithms. Worried we’re depressed and doom-scrolling.
A lot of my worry is valid.
Still, great content can make us better as people.
Picture it this way, if you only eat junk food, you might think all food is bad for you. It would take eating a delicious, healthy meal to teach your brain what good food is.
The same is true for content.
As creators, it’s our job to make content that engages AND improves our audience. Our audience should leave:
- more informed
- happier or well entertained
- equipped to act, etc
Ok, fine. so we should make better content. how?
That part is simple: become religious about the elements of story. Every good story features these four elements:
- character: let the audience identify with the central figure
- journey/goal: ensure they have a clear task or experience to encounter
- climax: an apex to the story that gives it a definite start and ending point
- transformation: make the audience better
4 elements of good content create restrictions on us as creators to ensure we make good content.
For example, a climax to your story requires a structure: a start, climax, and ending. The structure keeps us from creating endless loops that addict our audience.
Similarly, a specific goal gives the audience a purpose for watching. (aside from numbing their senses)
Of course, there are still elements out of your control. you can’t stop an audience member from over-consuming.
As creators, it’s our job to serve our audiences.
It takes a selflessness to create excellent content that puts their needs first. Following the four elements of story can go a long way in helping us serve them well.