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Thinking Like a Storyteller


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As interaction designers we do well at facilitating the complex dialogue between people and the interactive products they use. But we often neglect to consider the story that evolves through the interactions people have with the things we make. Designing with a narrative in mind can make a difference between a product that merely functions well and a product that engages the minds, emotions and imaginations of users.

Drawing on personal experience, narrative theory and examples ranging from interactive products to film, this presentation is a call to action for designers to equip themselves with a deeper understanding of narrative techniques. We’ll focus on core aspects such as theme, scene-making, and sequencing to illustrate how thinking like a storyteller can make you a better designer. You’ll also learn how this approach can be a powerful basis for holistic design.

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Published in: Design
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Thinking Like a Storyteller

  1. 1. Thinking Like aStoryteller Cindy Chastain @cchastain #ixd10 #story
  2. 2. revised title: What’s the deal withStorytelling?
  3. 3. innovation! design thinking! storytelling!
  4. 4. communication tool user stories personas scenarios framework brand stories storyboards demos product stories
  5. 5. my story
  6. 6. Ahhh..this button, will direct a call to the president of the company. Oh! the call is going through….If the president of the company gets his call, he will be happy. If he is happy, I will be noticed. If I am noticed, perhaps I can get aself-narratives raise… This device is so good for my life!
  7. 7. how can we, as designers, providecues that will deepen that narrative connection?
  8. 8. engagement cognitive emotional
  9. 9. What can we learn from the discipline of storytelling that will help us design for more meaningful and engaging product experiences? the ultimate question
  10. 10. slow disclosure
  11. 11. The image cannot be displayed. Your computer may not have enoughmemory to open the image, or the image may have been corrupted.Restart your computer, and then open the file again. If the red x stillappears, you may have to delete the image and then insert it again.
  12. 12. surprise
  13. 13. Stories engage us because of the way they’re designed.
  14. 14. If we, as designers, had a betterunderstanding of how stories arecrafted, we would have a betterunderstanding of how to craft deeperkinds of engagement in theinteractive products we create.
  15. 15. Act I: Theory the construction and deconstruction of narrative (!)
  16. 16. The Poetics All stories are, “in their general conception, modes of imitation.” -Aristotle
  17. 17. But what makes them differ… Objects Medium Manner
  18. 18. Two Manners of Storytelling… narrative/telling dramatic/showing diegetic mimetic
  19. 19. Aristotle’s Six Qualitative Elements of Drama Plot (events) Character (agents) Thought (ideas/theme) Diction (language) Song (pattern) Spectacle (the visual)
  20. 20. So, how does this relate to interactive products?
  21. 21. the shape of narrative flow
  22. 22. Canonical Story Format introduction and setting of characters explanation of state of affairs complicating action ensuing events outcome ending
  23. 23. Narrative Flow introduction and setting of characters explanation of state of affairs complicating action ensuing events outcome ending
  24. 24. understandingnarrative craft will help us get there
  25. 25. Act II: Craft Or what we can learn from storytelling about the art of narrative flow.
  26. 26. Aristotle’s Six Qualitative Elements of Drama Plot (events) Character (agents) Thought (ideas/theme) Diction (language) Song (pattern) Spectacle (the visual)
  27. 27. Three Primary Elements of Storytelling Plot (events) Character (agents) Thought (ideas/theme Diction (language) Song (pattern) Spectacle (the visual))
  28. 28. first element: plot
  29. 29. To understand afilm’s story is tograsp whathappens andwhere, when andwhy it happens.
  30. 30. four relevant mechanics of dramaticnarration communicate potential express causality reinforce probability facilitate completion
  31. 31. communicate potential
  32. 32. cognitive/emotional
  33. 33. express causality
  34. 34. cognitive
  35. 35. reinforce probability
  36. 36. cognitive/emotional + meaning
  37. 37. facilitate completion
  38. 38. emotional
  39. 39. second element: character
  40. 40. Well designed system-based agents, cancontribute to dramaticengagement, elicitempathy, and influencethe actions and emotionalresponses of humanagents involved in thesame activity.
  41. 41. Act III: Challenge
  42. 42. If we can move away fromthinking of products interms of interfaces andstart thinking of them asrepresentations orenvironments, in whichagents perform actions wewill get us to a placewhere we can design morefluid and engagingdialogues/experiences.
  43. 43. understand the craft of storytelling
  44. 44. design with a narrative in mind
  45. 45. develop narrative craft for design
  46. 46. yes, we can use it
  47. 47. the end (thanks) @cchastain