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Using the Dramatic Arc to Skyrocket Your Storytelling

20. Sep 2017

Dramatic Arc

Tips and tricks, Applications,

The Dramatic Arc may be seen as a fool-proof way to structure a story and engage in storytelling. It’s been used for centuries by short-story writers, novelists, playwrights and screenwriters. There are different structures to the Dramatic Arc, but an eight point Dramatic Arc structure is commonly used.

Using the Dramatic Arc in Storytelling

Firstly, there is the Stasis. This stage introduces the everyday life in which a story is set. The Stasis is followed by the Trigger, which sparks off the protagonist’s journey to personal change. A stimulating event breaks stasis and moves the characters into action. The Trigger then results in a Quest – in this stage the protagonist sets out to achieve a goal.

The next stage involves several unexpected issues that the protagonist has to deal with in order to achieve their goal. This Surprise stage sustains interest and intrigue in the story, and provides opportunity for character development.

The protagonist is then likely faced with a difficult or important decision. This is known as the Critical Choice. The decision made in the critical choice stage leads to a Climax in the story – the highest peak of tension. Then comes a time of Reversal, during which the protagonist integrates all of their learning. It is evident that the protagonist has developed and changed for the better.

The final stage of the Dramatic Arc is the Resolution. Now loose ends are tied up and the protagonist emerges as changed, wiser, and enlightened. All tensions are resolved. The story being told is complete.

Dramatic Arc

Using the Dramatic Arc in Explainer Videos

Using the Dramatic Arc structure is indeed a very useful tool. It guides the writer to add useful elements (such as the surprise and critical choice) in order to write a compelling text! A similar system can be used to organize the script of a short explainer video, by dividing it into clearly distinguished scenes.

The most effective Dramatic Arc for a mysimpleshow video will be comprised of a topic introduction, a character introduction, a problem description, a plot point, a main argument (followed by additional arguments), a result, and finally a call to action.

Dramatic Arc

  1. Topic introduction

Start with a short introduction stating what the video will be explaining. For example, “We explain the new HR Management software from Fern Inc….” . Or: “The management system from Fern Inc. made simple” and so forth. In this way the viewer knows what to expect. Usually one sentence is plenty.

  1. Character introduction

Main characters are often introduced in the second scene and then appear throughout the script. This helps make the story approachable and relatable for the audience. For example, “This is Tom”. Or: “Meet Tom”.  Then go into a little more detail: “Tom runs a medium-sized company and supervises 100 employees”. By using storytelling, you create a situation that the viewer can identify with.

  1. Problem description

Next, as soon as possible, specify the problem. For example, “Tom has lost track of who works for him.”  In this way, you can get to the turning point (or climax) quickly and help the viewers follow you. 

  1. Plot point

The turning point is the climax of the plot. This is where you need to introduce the solution to the problem. For example, “That’s where the new HR tool from Fern Inc. comes in.”  Or: “Easy! With the new system FernHR.”  The turning point creates a bit of excitement – which is why it should happen within the first few scenes. By the way, using literary devices throughout your story will make it even more engaging and relatable.

  1. Main argument

The main point is the actual description, where there is an explanation of the concept, or in this case, the product. To stick to our example, “Thanks to this tool, Tom can create a file for every employee to help him remember their names and faces.”

  1. Additional arguments

At this point a few additional arguments, other features, or additional information can be thrown in, if necessary. For example, “Not only is the tool easy to use, it’s quite affordable too. Tom can even enter all his employees’ birthdays and the tool will remind him the day before.”

  1. Result

In the recap, you can either sum up the story again (without making the video too long!) or write a short (happy) ending: “Tom is relieved! Now he knows that he’s sitting with Susan, Ahmed and Juanita in the cafeteria.”

  1. Call to action

Viewers will be captivated by the mysimpleshow. Once they understand the concept or product, they will want to know a bit more information about it. Since a mysimpleshow does not explain a topic in complete depth, it’s always a good idea to end with a “call to action”. For example, “For more information, contact…”. Or: “Intrigued? Visit our website at www.Tom-knows-everyone’s-name.com”.

Make sure to use this Dramatic Arc as a tool to write scripts for great mysimpleshow explainer videos. This will help to ensure that the viewers’ attention does not decline – they will indeed be captivated and will respond to the last scene’s “call to action”!