Chapter 2 on The Future of Storytelling-Serial Storytelling on TV

I was going through my journal and found notes I had taken of the Chapter 2 series of the Future of Storytelling MOOC online course. The MOOC course is way in its 6th Chapter and I am so determined to finish that course even though I am way behind. This needs dedication and discipline especially if you have a 9-5 job and come home pretty late and knackered but this is one journey I must see to the end.

This was a very enlightening chapter seeing that I am not in the film industry or a writer but it got me thinking on how I can apply these principles in designing solutions for social innovation and telling the stories of the youths designing for. I started W.A.T.Future (We are the Future) initiative with a friend of mine Hannah Johnson (another story for another day) and the objective is aimed at activating youths to become change agents in their community and design resources and tools for integrated project-based learning, real-world experiences, and other strategies.These tools will help them take responsibility for their education, discover their purpose, and prepare them for college and beyond.  Just writing about this is getting me excited and my head is buzzing with ideas!

Well, here is Chapter 2 on The Future of Storytelling.

Serial Storytelling on TV.

Serial story is one storytelling medium that has reached audience with diversity! These are brief points from my journal:

Serial Storytelling vs One-offs

Difference between series, stories of movies and novels?

Novels and films are:

  • one-offs
  • have a beginning and an end

Series have:

  • Depth of story
  • depth of character
  • Stronger emotional connection with the characters
  • Sometimes, the stories are more detailed

Serial Structures: Serial Drama vs Procedural

Serial drama tells an ongoing story, episode by episode about the daily struggles of its character and is usually a feel good movie e.g. Madmen, Game of Thrones, Lost e.t.c.


While procedural is a series of standalone episodes that is climaxed on so-called case of the week e.g. C.S.I. Miami, Fringe e.t.c.


Difference btw Serial&Procedural

The writer has to set an arena, a clue path leading to the truth. Setting the arena dictates how the story evolves and how much info that you give the audience. Serial drama and procedural can be merged in a story if you know your ingredients in the mix first! One of such successful merging is Bones and Good wife but Awake had a short death! I guess the writers didn’t know how to make a good mix of both structures.

Procedural3- Clue Path

Production Process

  • Futuring- Deciding on the story for the next few months. This usually takes a couple of days
  • Storylining – Story writers write the stories for a group of episodes, mainly 5 episodes, plotting out what will happen. Takes about 5 days. Writers work in a group for about 2 or 3 days,  and the group is now divided into episodes
  • Dialogue- The stories are now given to the dialogue department who now writes the dialogue into scripts. Couple of days to finish, write-up and edit the scenes and plots

Production Process1

All this is evaluated every year depending on how the world is evolving to fit into the scenes.

Biggest Challenges in Creating a TV series

What is the most important thing to achieve? What is some of the major challenges when creating a successful TV series?

  • Emotional connection of the audience. You want the audience to lean into the screens
  • Get people’s attention.
  • The Hook! The good hook is to get the audience to care about the characters. Characters with goals, desires, a will to fight, against all odds which can be found in serial dramas like Game of Thrones, Lost or daily struggle series like Gilmore Girls or The O.C.

Tips and insights on writing a good series:

  • Create a character profile. Include most important traits, desire, behaviorism, enemies, hobbies
  • Be patient
  • Be clear about who your audience is. Remember you are not writing for yourself
  • Creative process is a team work. Don’t be afraid to work in a team
  • Sometimes bringing in a new writer sometimes in the episodes brings in some new flavor to the show

More on the Future of Storytelling Course

These courses have started and you can jump right in!

Design 101 (or Design Basics)

Contemporary Architecture

Political Philosophy: An Introduction

Public Privacy: Cyber Security and Human Rights starts 4th December 2013

Monte Carlo Methods in Finance starts 20 January 2014

Enjoy MOOCing!

The Future of Storytelling- Chapter 3- Audiovisual Series on the Web

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