Teaching the Dramatic Arc

Hello digital storytellers! You all produced some amazing media at the workshop. Now that you are experienced filmmakers, we hope that you share what you’ve learned with your friends and colleagues.  This time, you will be the storytelling instructors.


The first step is to teach about the importance of using  THE DRAMATIC ARC  in videos, grant proposals, social media posts– any kind of storytelling! 

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 1.58.21 PM


So let’s get started!

I. Class Preparation/Planning: 

  1. Make copies of The Dramatic Arc handout and signs for the warm up activity (see below).
  2. Choose 4- 5 short films to use as examples when teaching the dramatic arc. You can use some of the films you produced in the workshop. You can also choose from the examples below.

II. Class Session: 

  1. Warm Up Activity-Favorite Films (10 minutes): Place signs with the names of different movie genres around the room (drama, action, documentary, horror, comedy). Ask participants to go stand next to their favorite type of movie. Then, ask them to briefly share their favorite movie and why they like the genre. Ask the whole class to think about what all of those films have in common.
  2. Film Analysis- Example #1: Before you talk about the dramatic arc, start by showing one of the film examples. Ask students what they thought. Why did they like it? Was it a strong story? How was the story structured?
  3. The Dramatic Arc: Explain that strong stories follow  the dramatic arc. Pass out The Dramatic Arc Handout. Draw the dramatic arc on the board and fill in specific details from the movie for each section (hook, background, rising tension, climax, conclusion, resolution)
  4. Film Analysis- Example #2-#5: Show the other film examples and ask for reactions from the class. Then ask volunteers from the class to help identify how the stories followed the dramatic arc. Ask: What was the hook? What was the background?, etc. Draw a dramatic arc on the board for each film and fill in the details.
  5. *Remember to point out that storytellers/filmmakers can find creative ways to follow the dramatic arc. What kind of music and images did the filmmakers use to make the dramatic arc strong?  How did the filmmakers connect with the audience? And don’t forget to share your own experiences in storytelling!
  6. Share: Take some pictures during your workshop and share on our workshop Facebook group. We can’t wait to hear about it!


11930796_10208028391376000_3683406540643445720_o (1)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s