Story Templates have been one of the highest rated features inside Storybuilder. And for good reason–they offer a step-by-step guide to develop your creative in a way that will ensure a powerful outcome.
However, we knew we could do better. We knew there were holes and steps in the creative process where we could be doing more. Last month the entire Muse team came together in Portland as we completely reimagined what templates should do.
A new template engine with all-new templates.
Today we launched a significant update to how Story Templates work inside Storybuilder, along with over 10 new templates.
Here's a glimpse of some of the templates you'll now find inside the app.
Let's take a look at how the templates work inside Storybuilder.
When you go to create a new story, you'll be invited to choose from any of the 20+ templates. Of course, you can still start from scratch should you wish.
Templates are sorted by category, so you'll currently find documentary and commercial templates, along with a few templates to help you get started with the app.
once you've chosen your template is when the magic really starts.
For this example, we've chosen the Nonprofit Founder's Story. It's a very common story that helps to connect the audience to the drive and the 'why' behind a nonprofit.
After choosing your template, you'll be taken to the Story Elements page that has everything you'll need for your story. The Story Checklist that pops out from the right side is the real power behind the templates.
This checklist is going to guide you through every step of the creative process, which includes getting client approvals (which we'll get to in a moment).
Each step of the checklist includes the key action to take, an estimated amount of time it should take, and a description of what you're looking for.
As you complete steps, check them off and track your overall progress.
This is a great way to gain clarity on exactly what you need to do next, and is amazing in helping you to collaborate with both your team and your client.
Some of your creative development happens outside the app, out there in the real-world. Listening, the act of researching and trying to fully understand the landscape of a story, is a critical part of creating honest stories that resonate on a deeper level.
However, we knew we needed to add something to help with the finding and gathering of information.
To aid you in your research, we've added a Questions tab inside each character.
These questions are powerful prompts you can use when talking to potential characters to ensure you're really understanding them as a character for your story.
Each template comes with a series of questions ready to go. You can add your own questions, rearrange them, and most importantly–you can export them to a PDF to bring along with you for your research.
Many creatives struggle with how to get beyond the surface level with their characters, or with getting enough detail to truly develop their characters.
These prompts will help you go deeper and get more out of those in your story.
While these questions are intended for your pre-interview–talking to your potential characters in advance to understand them better–it's also a powerful tool for adding your on-camera interview questions and being prepared when that time comes.
After the interview, we'd check off that item on the Story Checklist and move on to the next item. For this example, we'd see that the next step is to fill out the information about the character.
In developing your characters, it's critical to understand their desire, what makes them different, and their motivation.
Storybuilder also provides some context for each quality to help you discern what each of these qualities is for your character.
As you move through your checklist, you'll even find client approvals built into the process.
In almost all cases, there are other stakeholders that want to be involved in the creative process. While you may feel lucky if you have complete creative control, what you'll find most often is that regular communication, and taking the stakeholder through all key decisions as they are happening, will lead to far more creative alignment and way less revisions in the end.
To help with creative alignment, we've added steps in the checklist where we'd recommend getting client approval. Those milestones are centered around defining the purpose behind the project, identifying the people to be in the video, and then the storyboards (which would be the story structure and locations).
For example, the first milestone is to choose your 5 Story Keywords. These are the tangible representation of the purpose or intent behind your story.
Storybuilder will offer you a series of prompts to help you find the Keywords that are fitting for your story. You'll find that the prompts even adapt to the type of story you're telling. Brainstorm your Keywords, drag your selected ones to the top, and add descriptions. When you're ready, you can quickly hit export and have a PDF ready to share with your client.
Now some of these milestones may be things you don't normally do, and so it may feel like extra work to develop Keywords and share them with your client. Here's why doing so will save you time and money.
The majority of conflict between you and your team, or you and your client, comes from having different objectives and/or not being able to communicate effectively. By working through project milestones, you're laying a solid foundation from which you can make better, and more intentional, decisions.
By clarifying the purpose for your team and client, you all have a point of reference to ensure that all other creative decisions are staying on track.
As you work through your story checklist, you'll get to your plot points. you'll find that every template comes with a few key ones to get you started.
These steps are almost too straightforward - you may feel like there must be more to it. For each Plot Point, you can open it up and get directions on how to find that moment with the story you're telling.
The idea here is that the provided Plot Points will help you develop your conflict, a strong journey, and then a resolution. Freytag used the model of a triangle, Aristotle wrote about rising and falling action, and Joseph Campbell called it The Hero's Journey.
The Plot Points provided help ensure you have a solid story structure. Just fill out each point for your story, attach a relevant image, and then export to a storyboard.
Of course, you are always welcome to add/remove/change any of these elements at your discretion. The goal here is to offer clarity in how to get to a strong result. Use the template to ensure you've got strong characters and a powerful story structure, then feel free to adjust as you see fit.
We're really excited about the potential behind Story Templates. We believe they're a way for beginning filmmakers to get guidance on how to develop a strong story, as well as to help larger and more experienced teams work through their creative in an intentional way that ensures a powerful result.
All of these Story Templates are fully functional with a free trial of Storybuilder.
You can grab yourself a free trial right here.
You're also invited to our weekly webinar where we offer a free guided tour of Storybuilder. Anybody is welcome to join. Next week's will have a special focus on getting the most out of the Story Templates.
You can sign-up to join Kathryn next Thursday at 1:00 PST right here.