Four Pillars of a Story: People

Effective videos are all about storytelling. And when it comes to storytelling, there are four main pillars of a story: people, purpose, plot, and places.

Let’s start by talking about the people pillar and the fact that powerful stories require great characters.

Every great book and every great movie has great characters. Even if your video is only two minutes long, you need a great character to tell a powerful story. Why? Because we relate to people. They have desires, emotions, and struggles just like we do. We understand other people in a way we can’t understand or relate to animals, machines, or corporate entities.

When it comes to great stories, most of them are told from a single person’s perspective. You can have other supporting characters that help tell the story, but the main character is the heart of the story.

There are typically three traits we want to see in a strong character:

  1. Desire. A strong desire leads to an emotional connection with the audience and creates empathy. The character’s desire, or what they really want, is what holds the audience’s attention. The audience wants to know if the character gets what they want, so they keep watching!
  2. Uniqueness. As people, we tend to be drawn to things that are new or different. When we see something different, it catches our eye. A unique character helps draw the audience in and holds their attention.
  3. Complexity. This is the “why” of the character. Why do they want this thing so strongly? What’s motivating them to push through whatever struggle they’re facing to get it? Complexity of a character is essential to maintain the connection with the audience.

Everyone has a story, but not everyone is an interesting character. To have an effective video, you absolutely need a strong and interesting character. And that means that not all stories are worthy of capturing on video. That’s sometimes a hard conversation to have when an organization has already picked someone to be the star of a video, but it’s better to have that conversation and find the right character rather than create an unmemorable video with the wrong character.

Ultimately, you want the audience to fall in love with the character so that they keep watching the video to the end. You want the viewers to stick around and see what happens, which means you have to start with the right character in the people pillar. Once you have the people pillar set, you can move on to the other pillars of a story, which we’ll address in a future post.

Need help identifying and developing the right characters in your story? Contact us today to discuss your video needs.

Want to learn more about storytelling?  Check out Muse Storytelling!

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