For this exercise we are going to take you back to when you were at school, in your first creative writing classes. Something we are sure your teachers drummed into your head was "Beginning, Middle, End". This is exactly what will build our path to your story.
More often than not we find that both our partners and clients have an idea for a story or a moment but haven't given the thought to structuring where they need things to be and when. After all the Lord of the Rings would be rather dull if after the minute you meet Frodo the next page the Ring goes in the volcano.
Adrift's idea of The Path, is to guide you into finding the important beats in your story and link them together. This method works for branded and original content.
In the beginning there needs to be stakes. The Beginning for many people is an introduction. Usually this takes the form of introducing characters, locations or information. However, all of those things are rather dull. Your audience will not be invested in the story you are about to tell if you do not create agency around the things you are building.
For original stories this is your opportunity to sell your world. Stories do not usually start at the very beginning of our character's lives, they are usually in the middle of something. This part of the story is a great time to create stakes for world and introduce the standing of your characters in connection with those stakes.
For branded content it's very tempting to create a long winded introduction with spoken work experience. However, when creating a podcast or a video, you are not competing with other companies, you are competing with entertainment. It's worth thinking about the tactics your favourite Netlfix series uses to draw you in. Think about the big problem you are trying to solve, make it sound scary, difficult and then introduce the people who can help attack the problem.
This is where things get interesting. Your audience have been hooked with the stakes, now it's time to use that knowledge to your advantage. Curve balls are a favourite tactic for us during the second act of a story. In The Beginning you introduced your audience to something they have begun to understand but not solve, but what if there was more than meets the eye.
For original stories this is an opportunity to add characters or a new leg of a journey. Unforeseen circumstances and mystery are brilliant constructs in adding to a story already in motion. Thinking about what is around a corner or the figure that had been following your characters complicates the stakes, while allowing you to change course towards the moment you need.
For branded content the middle is for explaining your problem in a way that your audience can get their head around, but then as they gain the expertise through your content, you need to challenge that expertise. Your audience will subconsciously start to strategise around the problem you have posed them. Use the middle to highlight common pitfalls and advice that usually leads people facing the problem astray.
You have probably heard the old adage "Make your point". Which you should in a story, but it shouldn't be saved for the end. At Adrift we like to think of the end as a question rather than a statement. We talk a lot about "Dinner Party Moments". Which are the moments when you are with your friends, and you retell them a small chunk of a story you experienced. This very rarely happen when a story concludes with a statement.
For original stories, while our characters can come to a natural finishing point, we want our audience to question what else is happening in your story world, or how the effects of your plot affect the wider implications beyond that last page or frame. If you want your audience to talk about your story, you need to give them a reason to stay in your world.
For branded content, nine times out of ten, you probably want the person experiencing your story to reach out or engage with you. The End is your opportunity to solve a large chunk of the problem you have been discussing, but leave just enough in the tank to make your audience wonder how to close that last gap.
Your Path does not have to be fixed, it's a guide for your story. What comes next though should be fixed. Your moments. For that we employ a process called Narrative Control.