Reinventing Radio: Lessons Learned From an Evening with Ira Glass
|Photo credit: Katie Johnson|
Part one: Every story is a detective story, no matter what it's about.
Regardless of the content, every story is raising questions in the beginning that it's going to answer along the way. It's a dynamic that keeps the reader or listener continuously hooked to a story. Answers are either withheld throughout the duration of the story and reveled in a single moment or gradually dispersed throughout the journey keeping the reader moving forward from page to page. The ability to manage this balance of mystery and revelation determines the amount of satisfaction your reader will receive at the end of the story.
Part two. Find the bigger something at the end.
Stories on This American Life have an almost formulaic structure that Glass developed while studying semiotics. A series of actions is laid out, accompanied with great visual description and, if possible, dialogue.
The initial goal is to not only bring the listeners in but also to move them forward. It's a simple chorus of: action, action, action, and then finally stepping back to reveal a bigger picture, a meaning behind the plot you've just laid out.
Many storytellers can lay out a series of events, but to Glass, the big payoff is revealing the universal message that's at stake,"You don't just tell an anecdote you say the meaning of the anecdote."
Glass continues his tour around the U.S. throughout the year. For more information and tour dates, check out the This American Life website.