One of the more difficult tasks in the digital storytelling process is finding the story. Everyone has a story to tell.
While some may be able to readily create their personal narratives with significant comfort and ease, others might require a bit of help in drawing out the messages they want to share through their digital stories.
To help find their story, participants may want to think about their life experiences that provoked strong emotions for them, such as happiness, sadness or even humour.
Particular items, such as photographs, props, maps, songs, artwork and other mementos may help participants to remember their past experiences and think about the story they want to tell.
Participants may want to write bits of information on a piece of paper, as their thoughts come to them over the course of several days. These bits of handwritten papers then may be gathered and organized or analyzed to determine the key messages that are emanating from the various bits of information.
Other helpful exercises may include engaging in a series of brief free writing sessions, brainstorming for ideas, or even talking with others about their thoughts and experiences. They may find a storyboarding exercise useful, see template included in Guide 4: Logistics, Checklists, and Resources for Digital Storytelling Facilitators.
Facilitators need to provide the creative space and flexibility for participants to find their story. They need to be open to the multiple ways people use to arrive at a story. This can be a painful process and needs careful and gentle facilitation. At the same time, participants will need to be moved towards a clear deadline of completing their story.
It also may be helpful for participants to keep in mind that the stories they write down do not have to be grammatically correct, nor do they have to be lengthy creations. Given that the ideal digital story will be approximately three to five minutes in duration, the written narrative should not exceed 300 words in length.
Regardless of the story chosen, it should be one with which participants are comfortable sharing. In this case, participants may want to use their own family photographs, music and words to tell their stories. Participants may feel a sense of comfort with their story, if it is written as if it was spoken (Adams, 2008). For samples of stories, see Digital Storytelling Scripts in Guide 4: Logistics, Checklists, and Resources for Digital Storytelling Facilitators.
While the theme of the digital storytelling project may be focused on the legacy and intergenerational effects of residential schools, an area in which there is little to tell that is positive, the stories that are created can also send messages of hope and healing, of inspiration, and of reconciliation.