5 MISTAKES TO AVOID IN YOUR WRITING CAREER THIS YEAR BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

There are lots of mistakes we as creatives could make that would stop us from reaching our fullest potential. I’ve picked out five to get you started on some of the things you shouldn’t do if you want to get ahead and stay ahead in your creative life. Also remember that you’re not in competition with anyone, but yourself.

Read along on the 5 mistakes to avoid in your writing career this year.

  1. NOT READING ENOUGH:  This is not the year to be lazy. Read widely, grow your wealth of knowledge. Writers are meant to be some of the most knowledgeable people. Be curious. I’m not saying become an expert in all topics, No. I simply mean, have some knowledge on different topics, it makes your writing and creative process fun.
  2. NOT REFILLING YOUR CREATIVE WELL: Go places. It doesn’t necessarily mean breaking the bank for this. Low budget places like walking in nature, sitting at a café and observing humans, watching stuff, going to the museum and archeological sites, reading poetry, listening to music lyrics, will do. You need to add richness to your life to create fresh content. So please. Stay curious. Go and refill your creative well.
  3. GETTING OLD: When you cannot easily adapt to changes, then you are getting old. There’s a danger in ‘getting old’, ask the dinosaurs, they become extinctJ. All I’m saying is keep learning and unlearning things to stay on top of your game as a creative. Use the Technological tools available at your disposal to make your creative process faster and easier. Have you tried out Chat GPT 3 for example for your AI assisted creation? Don’t be extinct, stay youthful and keep growing.
  4. STAYING IN YOUR COMFORT ZONE: This is the most dangerous place to be. Nothing good comes from a comfort zone. You will stagnate and before you know it, the world moved on. Stay fresh by avoiding that C Zone. It is your enemy.
  5. BEING CRIPPLED BY PERFECTIONISM: We are human, we can never be perfect. We are flawed. Embrace the good writing days, the bad writing days, don’t be afraid to put your work out into the world for fear of what others will say. Do. It. Afraid. Everyone else is, so why not you?

Hope these tips have inspired you to do more and be more.

Want a kick starter to get you on your journey? Grab my book on writing ‘Get Writing, A Beginner’s Guide From Idea To First Draft’ Available as an e-book on Amazon.

 If you’d like a hard copy at Kshs 850 only and are in Kenya you can order from me through my email damaris@damarisirunguo.com and we can take it up from there!

Feel free to head over to my website www.damarisirunguo.com and subscribe to my email list for your weekly dose of inspiration, information and education on the business and craft of being a writer.

Grab a free guide on writing while at it!

Happy Creating!

WHY IS CONFLICT IMPORTANT IN YOUR STORY? BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

Conflict is the heartbeat of your story. Without conflict there is no drama, without drama, yes say it out loud, there is no story! Conflict is the very thing that keeps us glued to the screen as we move scene by scene watching how our characters’ deal with the conflicts presented in their lives.

Two definitions of conflict lifted from a google search are

Conflict is serious disagreement or argument, typically a prolonged one, meaning it goes on for some time and is not quick and easy to resolve.

Conflict in Literature is defined as

A literary device characterized by a struggle between two opposing forces. Conflict provides crucial tension in any story and is used to drive the narrative forward. It is often used to reveal a deeper meaning in a narrative while highlighting characters’ motivations, values, and weaknesses.

Why then is conflict important? Read below to see some of the reasons why.

  1. It helps move the story forward in a dramatic way: A story moving from scene to scene without conflict can get boring pretty fast, the conflict between characters and within the story helps it move along in an interesting way that grabs and holds the audience’s attention.
  2. It reveals to us who your characters truly are: When your character is faced with a difficult challenge, they can either flee, fight or freeze. Through conflict, we are able to see what your characters are truly made of as they go through the story overcoming one obstacle after another and making important life choices while at it.
  3. Conflict allows the writer to touch on heavy subject matters and themes in an interesting way without it coming across as preachy.
  4. Conflict helps the audience to connect with the characters and root for them: Most of the conflict your characters go through are things we have experienced ourselves as human beings and because of the familiarity in emotions, we are able to empathize with the characters and root for them as they tackle the demons in their lives.

Hope these tips inspire you as you go along in your creative journey.

Want a kick starter to get you on your journey? Grab my book on writing ‘Get Writing, A Beginner’s Guide from Idea To First Draft’ Available as an e-book on Amazon.

 If you’d like a hard copy at Kshs 850 only and are in Kenya you can order from me through my email damaris@damarisirunguo.com and we can take it up from there!

Feel free to head over to my website www.damarisirunguo.com and subscribe to my email list for your weekly dose of inspiration, information and education on the business and craft of being a writer.

Grab a free guide on writing while at it!

Happy Creating!

HOW TO CREATE MULTI-DIMENSIONAL CHARACTERS BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

Who/What is a multi-dimensional character? This is a character who is complex and unique. A character who cannot be sufficiently described by measuring a few traits or attributes about them.

In short, all of us. We are not one thing, all human beings are complicated and complex. No one thing can describe us.

With that in mind, why then do we expect our characters to be described and pinned down by one or two attributes? Understanding yourself as a human being and studying ‘YOU’ is really a great place to start understanding just how complex we are as human beings.

Read below some ideas on how you could create multi-dimensional characters.

  1. Identify the core of the character: Who this person really is and what do they stand for, what are their values. We all have a line that we cannot cross…unless of course it’s a matter of life and death. Once you have written down the core of this person, then your next step is number 2.
  2. Find the inconsistencies in your character’s behaviour:  No one is perfect, ‘for all have sinned and fallen short’ lol. Study the humans around you for inconsistencies in what they say and what they do, mirror that to your stories, to get rich, authentic characters who come off as real.
  3. Judge Thyself: Now that you’ve had a good time judging your neighbours, it’s time to judge yourself. Look closely at yourself as a human being, contrast that with two or one of the main characters you’re creating and pin down what parts of yourself are those characters. How have some of the values you hold or some of your behaviour traits contributed to conflicts in your personal life?
  4. Examine your personal backstory: What are some of the things that happened in your past that you might consider traumatic and how have they or are they still affecting your present life? These become the unconscious force driving your characters and when you tap into this you automatically get a layered character.
  5. Present your characters with similar dilemmas: Do that as you work out how each character would respond, based on their backgrounds and personality types. Doing this will help you go much deeper with your character thereby creating multi- dimensional characters.

Those are just a few tips on how you can create multi-dimensional characters. Do you have more suggestions on this? Share them in the comments section.

Want a kick starter to get you on your journey? Grab my book on writing ‘Get Writing, A Beginner’s Guide from Idea To First Draft’ Available as an e-book on Amazon.

 If you’d like a hard copy at Kshs 850 only and are in Kenya you can order from me through my email damaris@damarisirunguo.com and we can take it up from there!

Feel free to head over to my website www.damarisirunguo.com and subscribe to my email list for your weekly dose of inspiration, information and education on the business and craft of being a writer.

Grab a free guide on writing while at it!

Happy Creating!

HOW TO BECOME A SUCCESSFUL WRITER THIS YEAR BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

As a hopeless optimist, I believe there’s nothing major standing between you and your success as a writer. I believe that anything is possible if you set your mind and heart to it. That said, read on below for more on how you can become a successful writer this year.

  1. Stop sabotaging yourself:  I feel it’s crucial to start with this point. A lot of times our mindset needs to shift for us to find success. Are you sabotaging yourself? Are your daily habits shortchanging you from getting to your success? Have you resigned yourself to the fact that you will never succeed and hence you don’t give it one hundred percent? Have you let fear dictate to you how to go after your dreams? Start by changing your mindset. Be consistent in what you do this year and let’s compare notes in December, God willing.
  2.  Give yourself permission: Have you given people so much power to the extent that you have allowed them to box you in the ‘Not a professional writer’ category? Friend, stop waiting for others to give you the title ‘professional writer’, claim it and own it. That means your daily habits have to change to those of a professional writer. i.e writing and creating consistently, reading consistently, read scripts online at simplyscripts.com, network, pitch your work, go over and beyond your head writer’s expectations and so forth, in short, behave like a professional writer this year and you’ll be surprised by what happens.
  3. Break down your goals: Set achievable goals then break them down into what is achievable for you. Are you checking in on yourself daily? Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly? I would advise having small daily targets to avoid overwhelm which leads to not getting on with your goals.
  4. Find a mentor:  By this I don’t mean start harassing other professional writers to read your work etc.  Instead follow those you consider your mentors on social media, read up on them, check out their habits, be curious about their daily, weekly, monthly habits, something will change for you and success will start following you too. If you want an indirect mentor in me, sign up for my free weekly e-newsletter where I write to you with inspiration, information and education to keep you on your path to successful creating. Head over to my website www.damarisirunguo.com and subscribe, grab your free guide on writing while there.
  5. Find an accountability partner: This could be a friend or colleague who you are at the same level with, hold each other accountable, read each other’s work and positively criticize each other. Don’t wait for someone at another level to read your work, e.g if you send me your work I will not read it, I’m too busy with my own stuff, so find a friend who you can watch and analyze stuff with and grow together.
  6. Just do it: Put your work out into the world. You don’t have to wait to get enough money to shoot that short film, just shoot it, shoot a scene of your most powerful scene, write a short scene and put it online. Write that book and put it online. Get visibility by working in public and give yourself a fair shot at succeeding. Analyze TV series and films online. Basically as you learn more on writing, show the rest of the world just how well you understand story.

Hope these tips have inspired you to do more and be more.

Want a kick starter to get you on your journey? Grab my book on writing ‘Get Writing, A Beginner’s Guide from Idea To First Draft’ Available as an e-book on Amazon.

 If you’d like a hard copy at Kshs 850 only and are in Kenya you can order from me through my email damaris@damarisirunguo.com and we can take it up from there!

Feel free to head over to my website www.damarisirunguo.com and subscribe to my email list for your weekly dose of inspiration, information and education on the business and craft of being a writer.

Grab a free guide on writing while at it!

Happy Creating!

HOW TO TURN YOUR SIMPLE IDEA INTO A BIG STORY IDEA BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

Every story starts as an idea. It might start off as a big fully formed idea, most times though, it starts as a small unclear idea. It can be from something you observe about yourself or someone else, it can be from an incident that happens, it can be from an object, it could come from a trending news item or a small news item at the corner of the newspaper that no one is talking about.

In short, story ideas come from anywhere and whether they end up seeing the light of day by moving from just an idea to a script and eventually to visuals on a screen is dependent on several factors e.g how persistent and aggressive you are, luck, networks, great idea.

Let us focus on a great idea because if you have great networks and luck is on your side but the idea is weak then chances are it won’t see the light of day.

So how exactly then do we turn our simple idea into a big idea? There are a couple of techniques you can use to achieve this.

  1. Change your story’s location: Is your story about domestic abuse set in a rural setting, how about setting it in an upwardly mobile location, with the character being battered a big shot lawyer or vocal human rights defender. This in itself brings to your story a great contradiction that immediately makes the idea fresh and intriguing and we want to find out more.
  2. Change The Genre: Have you considered changing the genre of your story and how it could switch things up for your story idea? Think about how the genre you have chosen impacts your main character’s behaviour and the kind of choices they are going to be forced to make.
  3. Character Swap: From male to female or female to male. Try that and see if that helps with moving your idea from just okay, to a bigger idea.
  4. Start with the Theme: Taking a closer look at the theme of your story can open up your story from a small idea to something really big. Theme in this case can be defined as writing from the writers POV, what are those moral issues you want to address through your story?

Theme will come from moral issues that interest you or affect you as a writer. What are some of the things you feel passionate about? What things are you curious about? What theme is coming out of your story? Is it Injustice, Is it coming of age? Sometimes writers don’t think much about themes unless it’s really coming out strongly, but the thing is every story has a theme coming out, it might be very subtle, but if you as the writer don’t pick up on the theme coming out of your story then you will write on and miss out on crucial elements that would have propelled your story to the next level. Think of theme as the foundation of your house. You need a very strong foundation to support your building. Without a strong foundation, a building will collapse, this applies to your story as well. 

  • 5. Your character’s profession: I watched an entire film where characters woke up and just talked and went about their day, there was nowhere we knew what the characters did professionally etc. A character’s profession reveals something deeper and meaningful about them. A miserable banker who is a closeted artist gives us something to work with, a struggling writer who went against her parents and took the arts instead of the sciences at school gives us something to play with and opens up your world and story idea. Carefully consider this as you go along.
  • 6. What If: I love going into dream world with this question. I ask myself ‘What If’ and I get many ideas, some good, some bad and some really worth paying attention to. I think asking yourself ‘What if’ helps the mind relax and trick it into thinking it’s not working, this in turn helps the mind not to feel limited and goes into imagination mode, which is something we all need badly as creatives.  Hope you’ve found those tips useful. If you’d like more tips on writing. Head over to my website www.damarisirunguo.com You can also subscribe to my email list for your free guide on writing plus a weekly newsletter that inspires, informs and educates, on the business and craft of writing. You can also buy my book on writing. Get writing, A beginner’s guide from Idea to First draft on Amazon. Or if in Kenya, order a hardcopy by whatsapp text only to 0707 651546 for your hard copy at Kshs 850. Happy Creating!

SUBPLOTS: WHY THEY ARE IMPORTANT BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

An Excerpt From My Book: Get Writing, A Beginner’s Guide From Idea To First Draft

Subplots are what most people consider the secondary story or the least important stories in your script, yet that is not true because most subplots carry the emotional and thematic content of a story. Without thematic and emotional content, the story will end up as a linear story. 

Your story needs a subplot or two. There are other stories that carry more than two subplots but if you are at the beginning stage of your writing career, I suggest you keep it to a maximum of two subplots to avoid confusing yourself. Master the craft then experiment with the various ways of writing.

Just like the main plot of your story has a beginning middle and an end, your subplot needs the same. Stories that work best are the ones that introduce your subplot right after your plot has taken off, when your character needs time to breathe then introduce the subplot to bring in dimensionality of your character.

 An example of a subplot is a relational subplot. After you’ve introduced your main plot/story, you then introduce the complication of your main characters’ relationship with his GF, husband, parents, siblings etc.

The subplot is not to be confused with a filler. The subplot plays out parallel to the main story, hence the reason it needs to be introduced right at the first act or at the end of the first act.

If you are somewhat confused about what the main plot is and what the subplot is, ask yourself which plot gives your story the most action, which one specifically gives your protagonist movement towards his/her goal. The answer to this question gives you your main plot, once you identify what your main plot is then now you can plan it out separately and see how your subplot affects your main plot.

Your subplot should not feel like something random and not connected to your main plot, if anything, the emotions involved in your subplot are what will propel your characters’ actions in the main plot. So make sure the two are interwoven for maximum impact.

Subplots also mostly deal with the softer issues in your story. They are a necessity for your script and without them the story will become linear and one dimensional. Give your subplot (B story and sometimes C story) as much attention as you give to your main plot as it plays a major role in the emotional connection to your film.

A RECAP

  • Sometimes writers are confused about what is their main plot and what is the subplot. The way to distinguish is by knowing that the main plot is the one that gives your story the most action. Which story gives the protagonist specific movement towards his or her goal? Which story asks the MDQ or Central Question?
  • Subplots carry the emotional and thematic content of a story.
  • Subplots are not fillers. They play out parallel to the main story, hence the reason it needs to be introduced right at the first act or at the end of the first act.
  • Your subplot shouldn’t feel like something random and not connected to your main plot, if anything, the emotions involved in your subplot are what will propel your characters’ actions in the main plot. Make sure the two are interwoven for maximum impact.
  • Subplots mostly deal with the softer issues in your story. They are a necessity and without them the story becomes linear. Give your subplot as much time and attention as the main plot.

Look at your story carefully and see how many subplots you have? Are they working in harmony with the rest of the story? Do they feel like fillers? What themes does your subplot explore and where have you placed the inciting incident of your subplot? It needs to come in after the inciting incident of your main plot.

This is an excerpt from my Book: Get writing, A beginner’s Guide From Idea To First Draft.

Get your copy from amazon @$3.99 or order a hard copy at Kshs 850 if in Kenya via whatsapp text to 0707651546

Subscribe to my free weekly e-newsletter for more inspiration, Information and education on the business and craft of writing. Head over to my website www.damarisirunguo.com

Happy Creating!

RESEARCH DO’S AND DON’TS BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

Research is an important part of the writing process and there are various ways of researching your project. Today though, I want to talk about some Do’s and Don’ts of researching.

I’m currently working on a project that is heavy on the research end, it is fueled by research and therefore I can’t start writing until I have some facts in place. As I go through this process, it sometimes becomes difficult to stay focused and I find myself digressing from the main topic which in itself can be a good and a bad thing. That’s why I’ve decided to share some do’s and don’ts of researching. Read on below.

  1. Don’t forget you are a storyteller and not a researcher:  You are first and foremost a storyteller and not a researcher. While digging into researching you might find yourself bogged down by too many facts. I advise you to use that research, combined with your imagination to propel your story to greatness, find the twists and turns. Yes, even when telling stories inspired by Real Events, you have to allow your imagination engine to work.
  2. Research the emotions: As storytellers we are in the emotional delivery business. This means it is our job to not only research the facts, but to research on the emotional beats to accompany the facts.  
  3. Find Your WHY: Why is this story important to you? Why do you want to tell that story? Why does it have to be you to tell that story? Finding a personal connection to the material you are researching will help give you a stronger angle.
  4. Remember to apply the rule of Cause and Effect: (This happens and then that happens) How does what you have discovered now in your research affect the next part of your story?
  5. Every Research has an End: Conclude the research before you stop being a storyteller and you become a historian/Anthropologist/ArcheologistJ. If you’re like me and you love research you might end up forgetting that you’re meant to be writing. You should research just enough to help you get on with the story and you can always come back for more information or you can get an expert in that particular topic to read your work and help give it a polish.

Hope these pointers inspire you on your writing journey.

For more inspiration, Information and education on the business and craft of writing, head over to my website www.damarisirunguo.com and sign up for my FREE WEEKLY E-NEWSLETTER(Unsubscribe at any time)

Grab your free guide on writing while there.

You can also buy my book on writing ‘Get Writing, A beginner’s guide from Idea To First Draft’ from amazon at $3.99 or if in Kenya order your hardcopy from me for only Kshs 650.

Happy Creating!

AMATEUR HABITS SLOWING DOWN YOUR WRITING SUCCESS BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

If you are reading this, then my assumption is that you want to succeed as a writer. Most of us want to make a living from our writing and have the freedom of creation.

To be successful means we have to put our best foot forward everyday towards that. It is easier said than done and when the rubber meets the road a lot of writers who consider themselves professional writers would easily fall in the category of Amateur writers.

 Read below on some Amateur habits that could be slowing down your success.

  1. Wrong mindset and attitude: Amateurs blame others for their failures instead of owning up to them. To succeed at anything, you need the proper mindset and the first thing is to take total ownership of yourself and your life choices, and how those impact your success or failures. Listen, we were not all born with a silver spoon in our mouths, that means for some of us we have to grind harder i.e work on projects that don’t excite us so that we can find a way to fund the projects that excite us, funding doesn’t necessarily mean shooting a film but being able to curve out some time to work on your passion projects because you are not worrying about bills. ‘The government has failed us, the education system has failed us, the broadcasters have failed us,’ these are just but some of the comments I see being floated around by creatives who feel failed, but I urge you to stop pointing the finger outward and instead adjust your attitude and take ownership of your life to succeed as a writer.
  2. You are swayed by the wind:  Do you stay the course and commit to finishing a project or do you change course immediately a trend changes? E.g. perhaps horrors are hot and you start writing a horror then midway the trend is out and now comedy is hot and you switch to that. Listen, if you want to succeed, you have to be a finisher. You have to see things through, ignore trends and just finish your projects.
  3. You are all faith and no works: Are you a dreamer, dreaming of how success will find you miraculously without getting the work in? Even the Israelites in the wilderness had to bend down and collect the manna. God didn’t ask them to lie down and open their mouths and the food would land in their mouths. So yes, you absolutely have to put in the hard work. Hard work means you stay committed to what it takes to be a professional writer, and not letting yourself get discouraged. Get intentional about putting in the work; daily.
  4. Being a taker and not a giver: Before you ask someone for favours and anything you need, what have you given them first? Before you ask a friend to read your script, did you offer a similar service to them? Amateurs are takers, professionals are givers. Look deeper within yourself and see if you are more of a taker than a giver and adjust accordingly.
  5. Ignoring your peers: Do you think you’re too good for your peers and ignore them in pursuit of higher level people in your field? Yes, it is good to look for mentors but most likely those mentors are too busy for you. What you need to do is to hook up with your peers, read each other’s work, give each other constructive criticism, share resources with them and grow together. I love the African proverb: If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go further go together. I believe that’s true for us in the creative space.
  6. You don’t invest in yourself: The only shopping problem I have is buying more books than I have time to read. I buy books, fiction and non-fiction because I understand that I have to always re-fill my creative well. I apply for workshops and labs both free and paid for, because I am keen to grow as a writer and creative. Amateurs could not be bothered to spend any amount of money on their craft. They would rather spend it on other things that don’t propel them to the next level in their craft, then complain about how tough the industry is for upcoming creatives.

The question is; how badly do you want to succeed as a writer? You have to invest in yourself to grow if you ever want to make a living from your craft.

That said I have my book on writing ‘Get Writing, A Beginner’s Guide from Idea To First Draft’ Available as an e-book on Amazon.

 If you’d like a hard copy and are in Kenya you can order from me through my email damaris@damarisirunguo.com and we can take it up from there!

Feel free to head over to my website www.damarisirunguo.com and subscribe to my email list for your weekly dose of inspiration, information and education on the business and craft of being a writer.

Grab a free guide on writing while at it!

Happy Creating!

HOW TO RAISE STAKES IN YOUR STORY BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

I’ll define ‘stake’ here as something your character stands to gain or lose in your story.

The definition of story that I stumbled upon years ago and love using is ‘Someone wants something and is having difficulty getting it’ I added the word BADLY in there and so the definition I use is ‘Someone wants something badly and is having difficulty getting it.’

Stakes are crucial in your story because without clear stakes and raised stakes then your audience quickly get bored which gets them switching off your show/film/book.

How then do we as writers raise stakes in our stories to make sure the audience stay with us until the end?

I share some suggestions below on how I work on stakes in my stories.

  1. Cause and effect: Something happens, then something else happens as a result. The obstacles you throw at your characters have to follow some logic, you can’t just throw them for the sake of it. There has to be a clear goal your character is going after or the story ends up losing focus. Ask yourself if your story is progressing logically.
  2. Set up before you pay off: You shouldn’t have a moment where there’s no conflict going on in your story. This means that before you resolve a problem your character was dealing with, you have to introduce or foreshadow another problem for them, and this time, a bigger problem to complicate things for your character. This helps with the pacing of your story.
  3. Introduce a bigger problem: The more your audience experience something the less effect it has on them. E.g If the problem is the death of a loved one, then you throw in another death, then another, by the 2nd death we will be all cried out and will experience the emotions passively. In short be wise with the kind of obstacles you introduce to your character’s world and how that moves the emotions of the audience to the next level.
  4. Balance between external conflicts and Internal conflicts: What’s happening internally to your character and how does that affect how they react to the external challenges you throw their way? We are not robots, what goes on inside affects a great deal our reaction outside, so make sure to motivate the external reaction of your character with the internal emotions, for richer stakes.
  5. Character Development in relation to handling raised stakes: Under developed characters are dangerous to your story.  Make sure you dig deeper into your character so that as you raise the stakes, the audience go the journey with you believing that even if the odds are stacked so highly against the Protagonist, there’s still a chance of them succeeding.

Hope these pointers inspire you on your writing journey.

For more inspiration, Information and education on the business and craft of writing, head over to my website www.damarisirunguo.com and sign up for my FREE WEEKLY E-NEWSLETTER(Unsubscribe at any time)

Grab your free guide on writing while there.

You can also buy my book on writing ‘Get Writing, A beginner’s guide from Idea To First Draft’ from amazon at $3.99 or if in Kenya order your hardcopy from me for only Kshs 650.

Happy Creating!

WRITING FOR TV VERSUS WRITING FOR A STREAMING SERVICE BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

Some writers say that there isn’t a difference between writing for TV and writing for streaming services, but from my observation I believe there is.

More so for us in Africa where streaming is picking up, as writers we cannot be left behind.

Whereas TV viewers have some patience, streaming viewers don’t. They hold the remote in their hand and are ready to switch to something more engaging the moment they sense boredom.  

While I was attending one of Robert Mckee’s story seminars, a participant asked a question about how to deal with the dwindling audience attention span, and Robert Mckee was quick to correct the participant by saying that the audience were not losing attention span, but interest span. This was obviously brought about by the myriad of options the audience has in this day and age.  

I couldn’t agree more with Robert McKee and more so when it comes to writing for streaming services. You have to grab us from the start and hold our attention to the end. A whatsapp message coming in shouldn’t be more important than what’s on the screen.  Below I share some ideas on how to ensure your show on a streaming service hits its intended mark.

  1. Get your audience invested in the characters and the journey they are going on right away: Gone are the days when we could do long set ups, and drag a show along. Right now, if you’re not grabbing and getting your audience connecting with your characters in the first six minutes, you’ve lost them. If as an audience I don’t care and I’m not rooting for your characters, then why am I there?
  2. Heighten stakes:  If the stakes stay at the same level, it leads to boredom, this is where the audience leave the TV playing and go fix themselves a snack. And it’s not about car chases, or explosion, if Bridgerton, a love story manages to grab us that way, then really it’s not about the genre.  Feelings are universal, if we feel something for your characters and the story, and we want them to succeed, then we stay the journey with them, because we are invested in what happens to them.
  3. Tension and Release: Make sure you are giving the audience the right amount of tension and release. If an audience is feeling suffocated as they watch an episode of your show, because you are not giving them any release, then that’s how they switch to the other show and say they will come back to yours, and chances are they might never. And it works the same for tension, the opposite of tension is relaxation, and we all know too much relaxation leads to boredom. So finding this delicate balance between tension and release should be one of your goals.
  4. Show Don’t tell: I can’t overstate this. Unlike in TV where you could get away with telling us more, in streaming you have to be intentional about showing us and not telling us. Reread your script and re-edit to make sure you are showing us more than telling us. It is not up to the director; it is up to you, the writer, to give your show the best chance of holding its rightful place in the streamers platform.
  5. Tell us something new: Most audiences want to learn something new so that they can go and use it in a conversation and brag about how knowledgeable they are. If a show tells them something new that they didn’t know, then they will be coming back for more.

These are just but a few of the techniques you can apply to make sure your show on a streaming service doesn’t disappear in the sea of other shows. Give your show a fighting chance by carefully working on your craft.

For more inspiration, Information and education on the business and craft of writing, head over to my website www.damarisirunguo.com and sign up for my FREE WEEKLY E-NEWSLETTER(Unsubscribe at any time)

Grab your free guide on writing while there.

You can also buy my book on writing ‘Get Writing, A beginner’s guide from Idea To First Draft’ from amazon at $3.99 or if in Kenya order your hardcopy from me for only Kshs 650.

Happy Creating!