How To Edit Your Stories (part 1) – BWSS #2!

You go to tell a story — or maybe, just consider telling a story — but… there’s so much there! How do you know what to leave out, and what to keep in?

In this week’s episode of the Baby Walk Story Sessions (less than 10 mins), ALL WILL BE REVEALED!!!!!
Well, technically some will be revealed, because this is the first of a three-parter on editing. But here, I tell you…

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TELLING CAPTIVATING AND COMPELLING STORIES.

Also, I tell you a story about my bummer life when I first moved to Toronto, and how it improved. Want to hear it?

Listen by clicking on the PLAY button — or click HERE to listen on iTunes, or HERE to listen on Stitcher! Or find the transcript below.

Here’s the video I mentioned in the episode:

Thoughts? Favourite movie scenes you’d like to share? I’d love to hear all of it! Let me know in the comments below.

Thank you so much for reading and/or listening! If you know someone else who NEEDS to know how to edit/make more exciting their stories, you can share this with them using one of the round buttons below, or click HERE to share on Facebook (and make sure to tag me — I’m @yesyesmarsha.

You rule!

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha

PS want even more tips and advice plus secrets and stories I won’t put on the internet? AND my guide for the magic bullet to powerful storytelling? Come and join the Yes Yes Family — for FREE! — just pop your details in here:

Transcription:

You want to tell your story but you have no idea how to fit it all in without boring the behind off your listeners or readers.

In episode one, I talked about the most important question that you need to ask before you do anything around telling your story and that is “Why.”

Why do you want to tell it?

So assuming that you’re clear on that, the next question is, “Oh my gosh! There is so much in my story. How do I tell it all without boring people? How do I fit it all in? How do I decide what stays and what goes?”

I’m going to talk about this in three parts. In part one, today, there’s something fundamental that you need to understand about any story that you tell, ever.

This is the most important thing. This is like if you just listened to this one episode and take this to heart and never study anything else about storytelling, then I would be like, “You’re not very ambitious.” Maybe you’re just super busy. ANYWAY — what I mean is, if you just listened to this one episode and took this to heart and never studied anything else about storytelling, this will make a vast difference.

So here’s what you need to understand:

When you are telling a story, you’re making a movie inside your listener’s brain.

Let me say that again. When you’re telling a story, you’re making a movie inside your listener’s brain. I want you to always think in terms of that framework. But I’m going to be more specific.

So think about movies. There are three different kinds of scenes.

1. There are voiceover scenes. So that is disembodied voice from the future, giving context or philosophy.

So think about like the beginning of Stand by Me, Richard Dreyfuss reading the paper in the car, saying, “When I was a young boy, I first saw my first dead body at age 12.” I don’t know why I’m trying to do the accent. I apologize.

Or Morgan Freeman at the beginning of Shawshank saying, “I was the guy who could get you anything in that prison.” Context and philosophy. Disembodied voice from the future speaking and usually a real-time scene or sometimes lots of different scenes. That’s voiceover.

2. Montage looks at different scenes in real time cut together with music. So Dirty Dancing, getting to know the steps/Hungry Eyes montage, romantic comedy getting-to-know-each-other montage. Now we’re at the grocery. Now I’m meeting his parents. Now we’ve gone bowling. Oh, so fun! Love, romantic comedies, even the really bad ones.

The Rocky training montage. That’s a montage. So lots of different scenes in real time cut together with music on top.

3. Then there are action scenes and that is everything happening in real time (or every now and then slow-mo) and we’re seeing it all from the perspective of one or a couple of the characters. If you think about – so pretty much any movie scene that you can think of. Generally when I get a roomful of people and I ask, “What’s your favourite movie scene?” the vast majority of them will be action scenes.

Let me think about what mine is… My favourite movie is Desperately Seeking Susan and so my favourite scene is like anything with Rosanna Arquette and Aidan Quinn. Maybe where they get kicked out of the diner and he gets thrown on the ground and he says to her, “I told you no drama.” That’s an action scene.

 

If you think about movies, if they were entirely made up of voiceover, that’s basically an audio book with pictures. Hang on. I’m just making sure the baby is not asleep. No, she’s good.

So imagine a movie entirely voiceover. That would just be like audiobook with pictures. Imagine a movie entirely montage. There was a couple in I think the early 2000s called Koyaanisqatsi. The one time I took magic mushrooms, I watched that and if you’re on magic mushrooms at the age of 20, then that’s a great movie. But if you’re not, which most of us aren’t, then a movie entirely made of montage where there’s just music playing and scene, scene, scene, it’s pretty boring.

What’s exciting is the action scenes. So it’s the same in storytelling. If you think about the different scenes, those three things in storytelling, it has to do with how much detail you go into. So say I were to talk about this vacation that I’m on right now where I have decided to start doing these podcasts.

I love giant pick-up trucks going past. Anyway, so say I would tell you about – in voiceover, then I would say, “Me and my sweetheart and the baby went away for a week and stayed in a country a few hours outside of Toronto.”

So you would say, “Cool!” You would have a sense of what I did. But in terms of what this trip is actually like, you wouldn’t really know.

Then montage would be a bit more detail. So “Me and my sweetheart and the baby all went for a week and stayed in a farm a few hours outside of Toronto. We went and got ice cream in the village. We went to the Saturday morning flea market. We sat around the house and played with the baby.”

So you have a bit more colour in terms of what happened. But again you don’t really know what this trip is like.

But then action scene is getting super granular. So that could be me saying, “I am sitting 15 feet up in the air, clutching on to the baby for dear life in the cab of a tractor next to our host and he’s explaining to me stuff about the wheat fields and I’m kind of trying to listen but mostly I’m thinking, ‘My god! This is so exciting!’ Clearly me being in this tractor ride is not at all for the baby’s benefit because she has no interest. But I’m so thrilled that I’m here.”

That’s action scene and that’s granular and that’s where all of the magic happens inside our brains.

When you’re listening to a story or reading a story, your brain – if it’s well-told, your brain thinks it’s inside the story. So if I had gone into even more sensory detail, “the feeling of the seat under my bum, like ju-ju-ju-ju, under my legs, the fierce air con on top of my head,” then your brain would start taking you inside the story.

So all the best bits of stories happen in those action scenes. However, if you’re telling a story that spans any length of time — and if you’re telling the story of your life, then it does because like four-day-old babies aren’t very good storytellers it turns out — then what you have to do is pick a few action scenes and then join them together with montage and voiceover. So I might be in the tractor and then say, “for two more days, me and the baby and the sweetheart played in the house. Then suddenly we’re at the flea market…” and I’m back in an action scene.

So in terms of telling your story, you need to decide what those action scenes are. Usually, they’re pivotal moments of things happen, like, “And then both my shoes turned into diamond shoes and I realised I had superpowers!”

Or it could also just be a scene that just shows what life was like then. So if I was talking about when I first lived in Toronto, after the first few months, I basically had pretty horrible times because I just was experiencing a lot of culture shock and I didn’t know what I wanted to do for my job and I had no friends. Lots of problems. Maybe I would just tell you a day in the life of that. Like,

“I woke up and I went to the coffee shop and again I was too scared to talk to anyone and I sat there writing, looking over at these two girls thinking, ‘Man, I wish I could be friends with you,’ and why I don’t have any friends?”

So I’m just showing what life was like. Then maybe I would show you another scene of what life is like now for me in Toronto, like “I walk into the coffee shop and see people I know and they say, ‘Hey Marsha. How is it going?’ and I think, ‘Oh, I’m so happy to have friends in Toronto.'”

Basically you’re picking action scenes and then you will use voiceover montage to get from scene to scene, but not everything has to go in.

 

When you’re telling a story, you’re not telling 100 percent the truth.

If you were telling a story without any editing, it would last forever and it would be bananas because you would just go on and on, “And then I walked on the ground and there was this kind of plant and that kind of plant and there were five leaves and then seven leaves on this one,” and any story like that isn’t really a story. It’s just a report.

So pick an action scene. I’m going to talk in the next episode about how to write those action scenes. So when you’re editing your story, you pick which action scenes you want and then stick them together with voiceover and montage.

So what did you think? Or what’s your favourite movie scene ever? I’d love to know in the comments below!

Thank you so much for reading! It would be super if you could share this, using one of the round buttons below, or click HERE to share on Facebook (and make sure to tag me — I’m @yesyesmarsha.

You rule!

xx (Yes Yes) Marsha

PS want even more tips and advice plus secrets and stories I won’t put on the internet? AND my guide for the magic bullet to powerful storytelling? Come and join the Yes Yes Family — for FREE! — just pop your details in here:

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