Story Structure Tips

How you organize and present your information is part of story structuring.

One of the first things to consider is your "hook." How can you convince people to spend the time and watch your video? Not all docs have a sensational hook to lure people into watching a documentary, but it doesn't hurt. Think about a possible hook for your documentary project.

Listen to Documentarian Ken Burns

Introduction to Storytelling from Pixar


The classic 3-act structure applies to documentaries. Make sure your story has an:

  • ACT ONE - Beginning: Introduces the main character(s) and the problem(s) the characters is facing
  • ACT TWO - Middle: Pressure builds and tensions rises as the audience learns more about the complications the characters are facing 
  • ACT THREE - End: Resolutions and transformation. What happened (was the issue resolved?) and how has the character of your documentary reflected and transformed from the experience?

How you handle time is another consideration. Are you going to tell the story chronologically? Skip around? Unfold in real time? Speed up or slow down the action?