Using Prompts to Write Documentary-Style Stories
Creating powerful and engaging documentary-style stories requires the right words, the right attitude, and the right prompts. By taking the time to learn how to craft stories in this genre and understanding the different types of prompts available, you’ll be able to write stories that captivate your audience, open minds, and inspire action.
Classifying Different Types of Prompts
At their core, story prompts come in two main categories: those that require a directory-style summary and those that require a narrative.
1. Story-Style Prompts
Story-style prompts—also known as creative prompts—are open-ended, allowing the writer to create a unique story while meeting the prompt’s essential elements. For example, a prompt asking the writer to create a story about a character who comes face to face with the consequences of a decision they made could be approached with any protagonist, action, consequence, and resolution creativity allows.
2. Summary-Style Prompts
Summary prompts, on the other hand, require writers to recount specific facts about a person, place, event, or thing. For example, a prompt to write a brief summary about the 2020 pandemic must include facts such as its origin, people it has infected, and how it has been combatted.
Using Prompts in Documentary Storytelling
The best stories in both categories of writing require a writer to incorporate elements of supportive media, such as photos, videos, and audio recordings. This type of content helps to stimulate emotion among audiences and reinforces the facts discussed in the story.
These elements are even more important when writing documentary-style stories. Facts alone will likely not make an impact with audiences. Emotionally moving stories—particularly ones centered around moments of organizational triumph, heartache, trial and tribulation, etc.—are more likely to engage audiences and leave an impact.
When presented properly, stories like these can be used to influence minds and create positive social change.
Using the right prompts plus supportive media can be the key to writing impactful and engaging documentary-style stories.
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