3 Reasons Why A Central Character in Storytelling Is Better

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Focusing on one central character might feel like you're sidelining other important voices. Many of our clients at BairStories have shared this worry. Can one voice truly capture the richness of your collective experiences? At BairStories, we know it can. Here’s why focusing on a central character simplifies our narrative and magnifies our message’s impact.

The Problems with Including Many Voices In Your Stories

Including too many voices can:

  1. Dilute your overall story
  2. Lack of emotional depth and connection
  3. Nobody has time for that

When creating a video story for your organization, the typical duration is 3 to 5 minutes. You don't have enough time to stuff mulplie voices. Doing so in such a short span is overwhelming and ineffective. The focus shifts from the story to information dumping.

Facts and stats alone don’t inspire. They need a story for context. Even in more extended formats, the additional time should build a deeper connection with the audience, not scatter their attention.

If your goal is to inspire people to action through storytelling, your audience needs time to build a connection with your central or main character.

Think about Black Panther. I cared for Killmonger, a villian, because of his developed backstory and motviations, but other antagonists lacked enough screen time to evoke the same sympathy.

The 3 Reasons Why A Central Character in Storytelling Is Better

When I say central characters in storytelling, I'm referring to the role that person will serve in your story. A central character is the "Heart" of the story, which helps the audience connect and engage deeply with the story. Focusing on the heart doesn't automatically equate to excluding all other characters. Continue reading the article to learn about the roles of other characters in your brand stories.

For now, let's get into the 3 reasons to focus on a central character in your storytelling.

Reason 1: Connection Through Character Depth

When you hone in on a central character, you give your audience someone to invest in emotionally. They embark on a journey with your character, connecting deeply with their desires, motivations, and unique qualities.

Example:

At BairStories, our film "Ripple of Cars" focused on Joe Mackenzie, an Anoka County resident making a difference through car repairs. His journey, supported by Helpers and Experts at Environmental Initiative, touched hearts and had a real-world impact on fundraising.

Reason 2: Focus Enables Transformation

A story's power often lies in the transformation or growth of its central character. Introducing too many characters can diffuse this transformative energy, making the storyline scattered and hard to follow.

Example:

In our story, "Evie's Voice," we followed Evie's parents' journey from worry to confidence about their daughter's hearing. This evolution is easier to communicate with a single, focused narrative.

Reason 3: Stronger Audience Engagement

The central character becomes the primary emotional connection for the audience. When done right, your audience bonds with your character, rooting for their success—a concept known as narrative transportation. A focused story around a central character can keep the audience engaged more than a fragmented narrative with multiple voices.

Example: 

In our film Belonging, over 20 students participated in the camping trip we filmed. We chose three characters, with one as the story's heart. Some might say we excluded other voices, but those voices weren't critical for the story we were telling about nature and inclusivity for people of color.

Learn about our character selection process for our nature documentary Belonging.

When to Add Other Characters?

In our storytelling approach, Helpers and Experts are included when applicable. These additional characters play secondary roles to the Heart, reinforcing rather than diffusing the central storyline.

  • Helpers are characters who support the central character.
  • Experts are characters who fill in the informational gaps.

Next Steps to Tailor Your Storytelling Approach

All stories require something different. Your goals will largely influence the story you create for marketing purposes. Follow these steps to get started.

Set Goals: Know your aim—brand awareness, donations, or engagement.

✅ Pick Your Heart: Choose a central character that aligns with your goals and possesses a strong desire, motivation, and uniqueness. Conduct pre-interviews to find and discover the big 3.

Craft the Arc: Brainstorm the flow of your start and the essential plot points you need to tell that story so it's engaging.

Add Support: Are there any gaps in your story? A 'Helpers 'And/or 'Experts' could fill in for added depth. But keep the focus tight.

Wrapping Up Why to Focus On A Central Character

In conclusion, a central character is the heartbeat of your story, deepening emotional connections and driving transformation. By focusing on one voice, you invite your audience to walk in their shoes, creating a powerful bond. 

What story will you tell next that leaves a lasting impression? Speaking of, are you familiar with the…

6 essential stories your organizations needs to tell? See which ones you're not telling.

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BairStories

We're a storyfirst film and video production company, based in Minnesota, specializing in emotive stories that elevate empathy, community, and funding. 

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