AMA: How to create dramatic story telling (and I write over 300 stories a year for my podcast alone).

Sean D'Souza
Mar 13, 2018

If you look around at articles, webinars (as in the educational webinars) or presentations, you find one consistent problem. The first fifty-one hundred words are utterly boring. So how do you get around that problem? Sure, you tell a story, but a story itself is barely enough. What you need is a story that's utterly gripping. What are the elements of that story? And how can you then connect these seemingly random stories to whatever you're writing about. 

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Where are you based? What is the writing industry like where you are? Are there lots of writers?
Mar 12, 7:52PM EDT0
How did you get started in podcasts? Did someone introduce them to you?
Mar 12, 5:33PM EDT0
Where are your podcasts? Are they available to the public online?
Mar 12, 5:27PM EDT0
What do you write about for your podcasts?
Mar 12, 3:23PM EDT0
In storytelling, is plot more important than character development?
Mar 12, 3:23PM EDT0
Do you have any advice on marketing one's stories?
Mar 12, 12:40PM EDT0

It totally depends on who you're marketing to. Is it to the New Yorker? To a publisher? To clients? To companies? You need to know who you're working with. 

Have you read The Brain Audit? That might help in your marketing. 

Mar 12, 4:36PM EDT0
What is it that makes a story interesting?
Mar 12, 12:15PM EDT0

Suspense. There are many things that make a good story, but without suspense you don't have much of a story. 

Mar 12, 4:36PM EDT0
What is your best tip to make a story sound dramatic?
Mar 12, 9:13AM EDT0

Suspense. You start a story, but then it's the suspesne that takes it to the punch line. 

Mar 12, 4:37PM EDT0

How do you 'hook' your readers?

Last edited @ Mar 12, 8:51AM EDT.
Mar 12, 8:51AM EDT0
What role does editing and proofreading play in making a story more interesting?
Mar 12, 8:18AM EDT0
Does length of a story influence how interesting it is?
Mar 12, 5:23AM EDT0

No it doesn't. But the moment your reader is bored, your story is dead. 

Mar 12, 4:38PM EDT0
Have you written or are you writing a novel? Or is it only podcasts for now?
Mar 11, 11:07PM EDT0

I've only used it for podcasts and in books. Not for novels. 

Mar 12, 4:38PM EDT0
Apart from writing and podcasts, what do you do? Do you have a day job?
Mar 11, 5:28PM EDT0

No, I run my own business at

Mar 12, 4:38PM EDT0
Are there stories that are boring beyond salvage? Or do you think all stories can be made interesting?
Mar 11, 3:42PM EDT0

A story needs to have elements of drama. I think all stories are interesting but you have to find the drama. You can talk about a visit to the supermarket and if you find drama, it's exciting. 

Mar 12, 4:40PM EDT0
How many hours in a day do you devote to writing? What do you do for fun?
Mar 11, 12:51PM EDT0

What has the fun element got to do with the writing? 

Mar 12, 4:39PM EDT0
What is the most gripping story that you have come across?
Mar 11, 12:26PM EDT0

Every story is gripping if it's well told. I don't have any favourites. 

Mar 12, 11:54AM EDT0
Do you offer any professional story consultation or editing services?
Mar 11, 10:09AM EDT0

No, I don't. We have occasional workshops, though at Psychotactics.

Mar 12, 11:54AM EDT0
How much time does it take you to do a single podcast? How long are they on average?
Mar 11, 10:09AM EDT0

Usually 20 minutes of content takes about 8 hours, including adding the music. 

Mar 12, 11:54AM EDT0
When you first started writing, were your stories utterly boring as well? How did you realize the problem?
Mar 11, 8:52AM EDT0

Stories don't tend to be boring. However, they can be less dramatic. When a kid comes home from school, she will tell you a story. That story is often pretty good. Stories by themselves have a sequence. So the "problem" you're referring to, is really the creation of an even better story. You realise this by watching other story tellers, comedians etc. There's a set up and a punchline (but what comes in between is what makes the story wonderful). 

Mar 12, 11:57AM EDT0

Do you have any advice about creating podcasts?

Mar 11, 6:30AM EDT0

It's a pretty big area (podcasting), so the best advice I can give you is to think of the podcast as something you're going to do in 2025. Yes, it's 2018, but will you still be doing it in 2025? If not, then you have a bit of a problem. Too many people start and stop. So that's the first thing you need to consider. We started the "Three Month Vacation" podcast in 2014 and to date I've written almost 200 episodes. That's 5000 words x 200, which is almost a million words so far. Now that's my own type of podcast, because others just do interviews. The other point about the podcast is to make sure you have a format. If you listen to, or watch certain programs or podcasts, you'll notice they have a format that clients like. For example, the "Three Month Vacation" podcast has a story, then it has a "we're going to cover three parts" and then it goes on to each part. It has a summary, a one thing we've learned today and what's happening in Psychotactics land. So there's a real format and that helps clients to follow along knowing what's to come. 

Mar 12, 12:02PM EDT0
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