Katrina Kirkwood, questions answered
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Questions and answers


Red DVD imageWhat do you mean by a story?

Human beings have been telling stories for centuries and the word story has many meanings.


There are the stories that try and explain the big events of life and have been passed down to us in the form of myths and legends. Often based on common experiences such as death, love and justice, such stories are used as sources for much performance storytelling.


And what about the sort of personal story you might tell a friend over coffee or in the pub?

"Where were you on 9/11?"

"You're not going to believe this ....."

"A black wedding dress?"

"How did you become a digital storyteller?"

"You'll never guess what happened......"

These stories are not necessarily historically accurate, but they are part of the way we explain life to ourselves and, whether strictly true or not, they are the things which guide our feelings, thoughts and decisions. They can have us on the edge of our seats, laughing hysterically or they can make us weep, feeling for one another.


And again, there are the stories that make no claim to being fact. Fictions and fantasies, perfectly crafted with a beginning, a middle and an end, they keep people gripped by the skill with which they are related.


So, stories go on and on......

Further reference »

“Evidence strongly suggests that humans in all cultures come to cast their own identity in some sort of narrative form. We are inveterate storytellers” (Consciousness Reconsidered 198).



"Stories are of ancient origin, existing in ancient Egyptian, ancient Greek, Chinese and Indian culture. Stories are also a ubiquitous component of human communication, used as parables and examples to illustrate points. Storytelling was probably one of the earliest forms of entertainment."



"From prehistoric times when our ancestors gathered around fires in caves, storytellers have been aware of how arranging events in a story-like way held the attention of an audience."



"Stories and storytelling lie at the heart of human experience. Since the beginnings of humankind, we have shared through stories the events, beliefs, and values that make us who we are and form our families, communities, and cultures. Some of these stories have been collected in myth and canonized in scripture. Others have become literary classics. Still, others have become tall-tales and humorous yarns. Looking inward, story patterns and characters intertwine with the hard-to-perceive forces that shape our lives. Looking outward, story-threads join us to a larger cultural fabric. The most important stories may be those we share with family and friends, but all help preserve memory, explain our present, and imagine our future. Sewn across time, story-threads bind individuals to families and families to society, defining our collective values, beliefs, goals and traditions."


Red DVD imageWhy make stories?

In telling a story, the storyteller has the chance to voice their perspective, while listeners have the chance to hear, learn, enjoy, understand and more.

Usually, if a person tells a story, only those present receive it. Once it is in digital form as a digital story, film or book, an infinite number of people can have access to it.

There are many reasons why people may want to collect stories, for example to preserve memories, to educate people, to demonstrate who they are and what they do or for campaigning purposes.

In other situations, the process of making the stories is in itself the most valuable part of the project. Any of the many steps along the way to creating the final story may prove to be invaluable to the storyteller him/herself or in increasing the coherence of the storytelling group.

The making of stories by digital means has been used, amongst other things, to enhance literacy, to build self-esteem, to develop communities and to tempt computer-phobics into the digital world.

Many storytelling projects result from a wish to give a voice to those who are not usually heard.

Red DVD imageWho makes stories?

Anyone and everyone:


Literacy projects

People wanting to commemorate – anniversaries, memorials

Intergenerational projects to aid different generations in getting to know one another

Community development projects


Basic skills

People wanting to ease memory impairment

Health groups



Private individuals

Red DVD imageHow do you choose which story?

Where the theme of the project is undefined, people are invited to a storycircle where memories and ideas are triggered by generating conversation among a group of people. A bit like round a meal table, one story leads to another and an atmosphere of trust and friendship is built up.

At other times, the project has a specific brief and storytelllers will already be expecting to tell stories on a particular topic and their minds will have been going over it. A group gathering hones these memories, one tale triggering another, "That reminds me...." And long lost memories surface.

Red DVD imageWhat next?

To be effective, a story has to be well told. Badly told stories irritate and send people to sleep. They don't get through. And, to be well told, the story needs a good script.

Time and thought has to go into the best way of conveying it – choosing the right words, the pace, the order, the pictures and so on.

So, scripting is next.

Red DVD imageWhere does the digital bit come in?

Once a story has been scripted – text written and images chosen – it can be made into book format using a graphic design package, it can be made into a 'digital story' by recording the script as voiceover and putting that with the images in video-editing software or ..... new ways of building the story arrive all the time on the internet and mobile phones.

Red DVD imageWhat is a 'digital story'?

Although a script and images can be made into all sorts of story formats by digital means, the expression 'digital story' has come to mean something very specific. Originating in California, the digital storytelling format has spread worldwide and was brought to Wales with the BBC Capture Wales project.

Traditionally 1-3 minutes long, a digital story has usually been autobiographical rather than fictional. At this length, it cannot tell a whole life story but it is an extremely good vehicle for expressing the events and emotions of a little fragment of personal experience, perhaps because it uses the storyteller’s own words and voice.

250 words and 25 images is the standard format. However, rules are made to be broken. Sometimes breaking the rules works, and sometimes it demonstrates that the rules had evolved for a purpose.

Red DVD imageHow do you make a digital story?

1) Prepare the script.

2) Choose the images and get them into the computer, scanning prints and uploading digital images.

3) Record the voiceover and edit it in an audio-editing program.

4) Prepare the images in an image manipulation program.

5) Use video-editing software to arrange the images over the voiceover in the most effective way.

6) Export the result as a movie.

7) Use the movie to make a DVD or compress it for the internet, for example.

8) Have a celebratory screening for all concerned. Get the story out!

Red DVD imageWhat equipment do you use?

Whatever is appropriate.


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