Inside the Story, a review

The long wait is finally over. Today, Adam Westbrook’s* ebook Inside The Story has been released and what a treat it is!

The ebook Inside the Story: a masterclass in digital storytelling from the people who do it best is a collection of 20+ articles by several award winning and innovative storytellers, from all ranges of digital narratives expertise – film makers, designers, multimedia producers, etc – compiled in one tome with the sole purpose of helping everyone into mastering the art form that is digital storytelling.

With some impressive collaborators, like Brian Storm from Mediastorm, or Andrew DeVigal from The New York Times – just to name two ‘giants’ –; Inside the Story cleverly uses a 200 word limit formula to convey important and ease of use knowledge snippets of invaluable value. This ebook just asks to be used repeatedly through out one’s digital storytelling process, from the planning stage to the editing room – there is always some precious word of advice inside this small ebook for every stage of a digital narrative production.

One of my favorite articles is the first one, by Brian Storm. In a clear way, Brian let us know that for really special projects (personal projects), time spent on location and on the editing room must be free of deadline restrains. “Essentially, we don’t publish until we don’t know how to make a story any stronger”, he says.

While some could see this as a luxury, a utopia, it does teaches us, ever-learning-storytellers, something of great truth: Work, edit, work, edit some more; don’t let the annoyance of the creative process let you walk away from your vision of the story you’re working on! I know I really need this advice, having worked on my fair share of projects that where ‘sent out to the world’ just good-enough (or not even that!!!).

As a final remark, please note the usage of the word “stronger” on Brian’s sentence. It’s not better, it’s “stronger”, because that’s what really counts on every storytelling.

I was lucky enough to be able to have a couple of questions answered by Adam about his Inside the Story project:

How do you evaluate the current panorama in digital storytelling?

Digital storytelling is still new, particularly on certain platforms and mediums. We’re seeing a lot more people tell stories, which is fantastic, but I think the quality falls short of expectations sometimes, in both the mainstream media and with independent producers.

What was your main goal to publish Inside The Story?

Inside The Story is for those storytellers who feel that their stories are good but not as good as they think they could be. There are many books and websites about what we do, but I felt many focus on the basics – how to use a camera, etc. This book isn’t about the basics, it’s about how to take your storytelling to the next level.

How do you believe that your book will help on jump-starting the creation of more digital narratives?

I hope Inside the Story will encourage more people to pick up their camera, or computer and push themselves to create really high quality compelling narratives. I hope people who’ve thought about giving up will keep trying, and eventually we’ll collectively raise the bar of digital storytelling across the board.

In which way do you think that the current ‘digital distribution revolution’ can engage our digital storytellers? 

It’s faster, cheaper, easier to create content, and to publish it. I hope we’ll see more independent publishers both creating and providing a platform for this form of high quality storytelling.

Is digital storytelling a career worth pursuing, for newly professionals? Do you see a future in it?

We’ll always need storytelling. It’s how we understand the world around us and connect  with distant, but important issues.To make it work for yourself though you need passion, drive and total commitment. There’s no easy route to being good at this – just practice, and a refusal to give up.

And, might I add, books like Inside the Story, to help us out with improving our stories for digital distribution.

As a final note – wishing that my modest review as helped you, dear reader, to go and by this amazingly helpful ebook –, I would like to add that Inside the Story is priced at a mere £3,50 and all the book’s selling profits revert to Kiva, the developing world entrepreneurship charity. Another useful information: the ebook will only sell for 4 weeks, so get your copy as soon as possible!

Here’s hoping to catch your digital narratives online, with reflections of the fabulous advices from Inside the Story!

* Adam Westbrook is a multimedia producer, film maker, lecturer and blogger in London. He’s passionate about digital storytelling and has made documentaries in China and Iraq. He blogs about new ways of doing journalism and lectures in video journalism at Kingston University, London.

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