How to create a narrative podcast: writing a story-driven show


We all like to listen to NPR-style, story-driven, narrated podcasts. But how are they made? Learn how to write and produce the next program.

As more and more podcasts flood into our podcasting app, it becomes more and more difficult to make a show that stands out from the crowd to increase the audience.

The “find your niche” paradigm is changing. Now almost every Reddit vertical market, subculture and microcosm has its own podcast, and your show must be differentiated in other ways to eliminate noise.

One way is to create something that goes beyond the simple interview format, something more difficult (but ultimately more valuable)—narrative podcasts.

What do the best narrative podcasts have in common

The advantage of narrative podcasts is that they can establish a deep connection with the audience. Because every moment of the experience is strictly written, they lead the audience on a journey, continuously re-engagement and contextualization.

If you have ever listened to podcasts from This American Life, NPR, BBC, Gimlet, or any other masters of the arts, you will notice that they do very well on similar things, such as:

  • They have thoroughly studied and verified the facts carefully
  • They elicit an emotional response
  • They have multiple guests or contributors per episode
  • They will never stand still, they constantly use new ideas, characters, sound design, etc. to push the story forward
  • They are usually not arranged in chronological order
  • They won’t be too long– Generally speaking Less than 30 minutes (of course there are many exceptions)
  • They found something new, unexpected or pleasant
  • They are infused with the personality of the owner
  • They are often serialized

Narrative podcasts do not ask old customers in your niche the same old questions in the form of old question and answer, but bring new and original things.

The result is that podcasts provide greater depth, insight, immersion, and overall quality that will fascinate listeners and come back again.

How to build a podcast

When you move away from the standard interview or roundtable format, you suddenly have many options Build a narrative. You are no longer limited to a very linear way of story development.

I think building a podcast is like planning a long journey.

You have a destination in your mind, but which route do you have to take to get there? Should you take the highway or the scenic route? The latter may be longer, but you will experience some interesting unexpected turns. The highway allows you to get from point A to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Once you know your destination, you can figure out the parts that make up the trip. Maybe you need to take a bus, then a train, and then walk a little bit. It’s like figuring out which characters (and in what order) you need to interview to tell your story.

Once you know what the journey will take, you will know what you should take with you and what shoes to wear.

Okay, I expanded the analogy a bit, but you get the idea. Telling a great story is about understanding where you want your audience to be-the destination-and then sorting the events so that they can get there at the right time and enjoy the journey.

Some ideas to help you get started

In summary-there is no single way to build a podcast story. For example, the structure of real crime stories is inevitably different from science and technology stories.

Some narrative tools to consider for your story:

  • Cold open. Want to attract your audience immediately? Cancel your standard introductions and put them directly into the story. If you are looking for good podcast introduction narrative ideas, this is a good starting point.
  • Three acts. Yes, all stories have a beginning, middle, and end, but the standard interview format forgets this. It is linear. Think about how your story will have the three actions of setting, confrontation, and resolution.
  • ‘e’. A cold-opened extension—start your narrative in the middle of your story timeline. Let the audience directly enter the action at the key point, and then return to the beginning of the timeline to give the background story. Then continue past your starting point to solve and end.

Make a narrative podcast

It’s one thing to know that you want a narrative podcast, it’s another to sit down and make one.

One option is with Podcast Production Service Specialize in it.The other is to take some Podcast Course And learn the craft by yourself.

This is how we did it:

1. Concept

Whether you are starting a brand new show or launching a new season for an existing show, you need to be clear about the concept of podcasting.

Key questions to ask yourself at this stage:

  • Who is this podcast for?
  • What do we want our show to help them? (Hint: this may just be “entertainment”, but it is important to be clear about your goals and organize your content accordingly).
  • How will your show stand out from other shows on the same theme? What new information or perspective will it bring to the narrative?
  • Is this a one-episode story or will it be told throughout the season?
  • Who do you need to interview? How will you contact them to participate in the project?
  • Who will be the narrator?

2. Research and planning

after Far The most important job Make a great narrative podcast It happened long before you set a record. Once the concept of the show is determined, it is time to delve into the subject and your guests.

Plan your episode outline so that you have a super clear picture of your narrative structure and what each respondent will contribute to the story.

This way, when you interview a guest, you don’t ask questions at will, hoping to get some gold nuggets or great anecdotes. You know their role in the story and you can ask questions until you get what you need to help what you want to say.

3. Production

Record your interview, go to the scene to record any accompanying sounds you need, write your narrative script to integrate the story, and transcribe everything so you can start the editing process.

4. Edit

This is where a lot of magic happens. I’m not talking about editing in the sense of cutting audio or deleting ums and uhs in Audacity or Pro Tools.This is about Edit content And structure your narrative to make it as compelling as possible.

Good editing is the difference between a novice narrative podcast and a professional podcast.

Carefully choose your interview clips and voices to weave your narrative. Review the episode planning and research you did in Phase 2 to give its structure.

We like to use Description For this-a super powerful tool for editing podcasts.

Pro tip for experience: Less is almost always more. Be ruthless when editing! If the cut is not important to the story you tell – cut it out!

5. Sound Design

Music and sound design are more than just icing on the cake. They are the core part of great storytelling.

Music and sound can completely change the emotion of the narrative. Once the story is complete, they should not be an afterthought, you should consider how they will function in your show from the pre-production stage.

There are many great places to go Music and sound effects For your show. Use them to enhance the emotion of the scene, place your narrative on the basis of time and place, or express changes in rhythm or location.

Just started

It takes a lot of things to make a narrative podcast, but the process is very rewarding, and the end result is more prominent than all other podcasts.

It may be daunting at first, but the only way to learn is to get stuck and try it.

If you take the time to carefully plan and organize your episodes, choose the right guests, edit mercilessly, and use music and sound design effectively, then you will be all right.

Through practice, your work will improve with each episode you create, each time providing more and more value to your audience.



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