Erik K. Johnson
Daniel J. Lewis
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” This is a quote from Benjamin Franklin. It applies to many areas of life, and it applies to creating a narrative podcast as well.
My name is Joshua Rivers, and I’m helping to guide you through this journey into narrative podcasting. So, we’ve learned what a narrative is and whether you should even try this. We’ve also climbed the mountain to get the 30,000 foot view of the narrative process.
Today we will be looking at creating a plan, and it’s best to start with the end so you know where you’re going. I asked Bryan Orr about this…
Bryan Orr: You waste more time…
As we speak to the others, we’ll see this thought of having a plan and knowing where you are going. It really does help a lot when piecing together the story arc.
Bryan Orr says that are basically two types of stories…
Bryan Orr: Some are content centric…
Bryan Orr: Writing intensive…
Bryan Orr: So when you start off with the timeline…
Corey Coates and Jessica Rhodes created what Bryan is calling a content centric podcast series with the first season of The Podcast Producers (which they are now in the middle of the second season).
Corey Coates: I think it always starts with the story arc…
I love the idea of breaking the ideas down into chapters. I see this in a couple ways. First of all, when creating a series, each episode can be viewed as a chapter of the story. Secondly, if you’re looking at a single episode, there will be several sections, or you could say chapters.
Try to logically lay things out so that similar things are grouped together and flow from one part to the next. In episodes 7 and 8 of this series, we’ll dive into more ideas of doing this while still enticing the listener to keep listening and how to flow from one to the next.
Jessica Rhodes: You need to know and have a good understanding of who your audience is…
We probably should have started here. Who is your listener? Who are you targeting?
Jessica Rhodes: …and also what story arc is…
Doc Kennedy: Everything scripted…
Doc Kennedy works in the film making industry as well as in the world of podcasting.
Doc Kennedy: I would set it up like…
One aspect of the podcast that needs to be thought about is the voices. We’ll get into actually picking and finding the right people in the next episode, but during the planning stage, you need to really consider how multiple voices can create a third dimension for the audio.
Doc Kennedy: If I could, I would definitely have multiple people…
Dave Jackson from the School of Podcasting also agrees that writing things down to help jog the inspirational juices and to organize your thoughts.
Dave Jackson: For me, I wrote it down…
Dave Jackson: …and there was this whole skit
Rye Taylor: If you’re going to do a narrative…
This is Rye Taylor.
Rye Taylor: Once you take that step…
Rye Taylor: It’s hard to describe this…
Erik K. Johnson: So I think your first step…
This is Erik K. Johnson, Podcast Talent Coach.
Erik K. Johnson: I think the most difficult part…
Rye Taylor: You’ve got to decide…
Learning to focus the story on one main person is an effective way to bring perspective. It also gives you a boundary and direction or how to tell the story.
Rye Taylor: Once you get that…
Most of what we’ve talked about looks at telling stories that have either already happened or that we create. What about approaching something that is either currently happening or is still in the future. Daniel J. Lewis brings his perspective.
If you haven’t listened to the first episode of this series, go back and listen to that first. We covered what a narrative podcast is and whether you should or shouldn’t pursue this format of podcasting.
Assuming now that you’ve considered those, we’ll cover an overview of the process of creating a narrative podcast in this episode. We won’t go into a lot of detail, as we will delve into the different parts in future episodes; but you’ll be able to see the big picture.
This episode is going to be a little different than the rest. There are only going to be three guests with us – Jessica Rhodes, Erik K. Johnson, and Jessica Abel. The majority of the episode will be my voice. The rest of the episodes will be featuring more of the guests and less of me.
In addition to the overview or roadmap, I’ll be sharing a couple other things here that are key to making the process easier or better – or hopefully both.
From Interview Connections, Jessica Rhodes is the host of the Rhodes to Success podcast and the co-host of The Podcast Producers along with Corey Coates. She realized the importance of having a team.
I haven’t followed this advice yet, as I’m working on this series alone, other than the contributions from those I was able to interview. I am, however, talking with someone about helping form some of the later episodes. This should help make it easier and have a better product in the end. I’ll definitely report on this later.
Erik K. Johnson talks about crafting stories on his podcast, Podcast Talent Coach.
Erik shares 4 main parts of a narrative.
These four parts help to structure what you probably already knew in the back of your mind. For a more in-depth process for our purposes, though, I want to share the extensive process that Roman Mars shared in his presentation at Podcast Movement 2015. He is the host of 99 Percent Invisible, which is a narrative or journalistic style podcast with high production value.
Roman Mars has a team that he works with, and it take them several weeks to put together one episode of the podcast. I’m not completely positive, but I believe that they work on multiple stories at a time, overlapping them. I say this because they do release weekly episodes.
I know that this is a generalization, but I would venture to say that the average podcaster has a very simple process or workflow.
As a general rule, I believe that most podcasters are in a rush to release the episodes because they are trying to keep to a schedule or because they’ve already blown their schedule. This is mostly due to a little thing called life. This is completely understandable since the vast majority of podcasters are doing this on the side of their jobs and families. In the rush, though, the process is simplified and the easiest path is usually taken.
Roman Mars, though, shared his process, and the process is probably similar in other high production podcasts and organizations that produce audio like this. Here’s a quick rundown of this workflow:
Research enough to pitch idea to group
Adjust story concept
Pick interview subjects
Write first draft of script
“Read to tape” as group
Listen to the rough as a group
Another group edit
Rough sound design
Listen as a group
Fix sound design
Pass off your final master
Fix based on notes
Are you overwhelmed at this list?
In this episode of the Creative Studio, we are launching into the 4th season (or semester) of the podcast. We will be delving into the world of narrative podcasting. This will include similar higher-level production as well, such as documentary and journalistic styles. A lot of the principles will also apply to any podcast and the way approach the development of them.
In this first episode, we will give an overview of what a narrative podcast is, if you should consider this style for yourself or not, and a little bit about narrative podcasting in general.
You'll also get introduced to the eleven guests that will show up throughout the season. You will hear from multiple guests as we focus on a particular part of the process in each episode. Here are the eleven guests:
Daniel J. Lewis
Erik K. Johnson
As we go through this season, each episode will focus on one aspect of the narrative process:
Episode 1: Beginning with Narrative Podcasting (pssst...this is where you are now)
Episode 2: Roadmap for Narrative Podcasting
Episode 3: Planning Your Narrative Podcast
Episode 4: Preparing Your Narrative Podcast
Episode 5: Recording Your Narrative Podcast
Episode 6: Editing Your Narrative Podcast
Episode 7: Enticing Your Listener with a Narrative Podcast
Episode 8: Flowing From One Part of the Narrative to the Next
Episode 9: Picking Up the Pieces Left on the Cutting Room Floor
Episode 10: Learning and Resources for Narrative Podcasting
In the next episode, we will cover the overall process of creating a narrative. This will be a quick overview of the above steps, giving you a better idea of what to expect. You'll also learn some additional tips to help with keeping things in order and on track.
Confession: I am learning these things as we go through this. I am not an expert in this field...yet.
Confession 2: One suggestion that will come up involves having a partner or a team. Other than the contributions from the guests, I did all of this myself. The lesson - follow the advice, not my example in this!
If you have any questions, comments, or other feedback, please join in the conversation! You can add a comment below or contact me. While I've conducted the interviews already and have generally slated what will be in each episode to come, nothing is finalized. I am leaving room to add your thoughts to the show.