We all know that a good writer can take a story and make it their own, whether that be with their writing style or just their general take on topics, but this week showed why all writers must keep the heart of the story too.
The ‘Friends’ disappointment:
NBC have announced a two-hour Friends reunion in celebration for director, James Burrows, filming his 1000th TV episode.
The myth: All 6 stars will be reuniting to film a two-hour episode to see what Chandler, Joey, Monica, Ross, Rachel and Phoebe have been up to in the last 12 years.
The truth: 5 of the stars (at the time of writing) will be reuniting alongside the cast of Will and Grace, Mike and Molly, Fraser and Cheers to discuss what it’s like to work with Burrows.
So, what happened to cause such a misunderstanding?
Take this quote in The Independent from NBC Chief Robert Greenblatt: “I’m hoping all six will be in the same room at the same time”.
Compared to this from The Mirror: “All six members of the cast will appear in a special telecast”
Hmmm… a difference in certainty there. Are they hoping or will it happen?
Add to that this quote from Time magazine and we begin to get an idea as to what’s been going on.
“Fans of the uber-popular 1990s sitcom have been lobbying for a reunion for years.”
Whilst I don’t deny this is true, somehow I don’t think what will air in February is quite what they were lobbying for. Unfortunately this quote has done what many have, it has implied that it will be the reunion every Friends fan wants. Many have been misinformed into believing this, such as this Tweet, referencing the famous ‘The one’ titling, implying a new episode set 12 years on.
As the guardian so delicately put it “Let it go, it’s never going to happen.” Ouch!
The interesting thing is no one actually came right out and said 100% all 6 would be there playing their old characters in a totally new Friends episode.
So who’s to blame? Well, no one really, or everyone (depending whether your glass is full or not). The fans read between lines that were unfortunately not there but the writers didn’t grasp the story they were telling – they misunderstood how to communicate it and these two things combined have resulted in much disappointment.
The ‘Space Walk’ phenomenon
My second example of this week’s interesting storytelling is Tim Peake’s SpaceWalk. Take a look at these headlines from today and you’ll see what I mean…
The Mirror – ‘Tim Peake Space Walk LIVE’
The BBC – ‘Tim Peake begins historic space walk’
All well and good at the minute right? I mean, a slight difference in how massive these two headlines say it is but, nothing too major. So, let’s keep going.
The Guardian – ‘Tim Peake spacewalk: astronauts start repairs during crucial window of darkness – live’
Okay. ‘Window of darkness – live’ could this be a new horror film, or maybe the title of the next maze at Thorpe Park?
Let’s carry on to the big one from The Sun…
‘Tim Peake begins nail-biting race against time in ground breaking spacewalk’
Nail-biting. Race against time. Ground breaking. Hyperbole city! How did we go from historic to all this?
I’m not saying what Tim’s doing isn’t huge, scary, difficult stuff because it really is, but what’s interesting is how the same story is turned from kudos to Tim for making history into an epic adventure. The same story, told differently, makes a massive difference.
And, in my opinion, there’s one obvious reason for doing this. To stand out from the crowd.
We are likely to be saturated today by news of Tim’s incredible spacewalk, thus with so many news outlets vying for attention what better way to get it than with a touch of sensationalism?
And that’s not to be mocked. These people know how to write for attention. They know the story they’re telling and they play with it to get interest. Skills in storytelling can make the difference between a click on your site or a click on a competitors’ and they 100% understand that.
Now, if you’re reading this and you’ve been hit by the realisation that how you tell a story is crucial to your audience’s perception you’d be right. If you’ve also been hit by the realisation you don’t know how to do this then fear not.
A short process of purchasing a ticket to our half-day storytelling workshop and you need fear no more. Because, as I hope’s been demonstrated, storytelling (and correctly) is key.