Thoughts & Tricks for Building Audio Stories


When thinking of your story, make sure you can fill in these blanks:  _____ does ____ because ____. But, ____ happened. Therefore, ____.

To loosen up an interview subject and get what their character is about, start by asking if they have a “this one time” story.

Having difficulty with the beginning? Try starting with a natural starting point in the tape, like someone walking into a room or introducing themselves.

Also, start with something that’s in the process of happening. It's always best if there's some action going on, even if it's mundane.

Notice what you tell other people when they ask what your story is about. The important stuff will rise to the top. 

Don't ignore the basic narrative arc: ABDCE – Action, Background, Development, Climax, Ending.

What are the 3-5 things you want to talk about? Identify them, then find the subject's quotes that represent them best.

Try telling your story to someone else in quick, dumb sentences.

Use a quote to transition into the first reflection.

Commas are usually the enemy. Write. Short. Sentences.

Look for the ‘but’ – the conflict or challenge. What’s difficult about this? What would people not understand?

Introduce your main character like you would at a party.



“Unfortunately, the beginning needs to be slutty.”

What question is my story going to answer?

“Don’t confuse people. Intrigue people.”

At some point, you’re gonna have to tell the listener what the story is about.

“It depends.”

The narrator is (depending on the type of piece) mostly for facts, transitions, etc. The gold is left to the subjects, sounds, and quotes.

“Music is emotional fascism.”

The vast majority of the time, the narrator changes the subject.

“Sound effects are a pedestal for the story.”

In the interview, go fishing for a moment of reflection.

“‘Seems like’ and ‘perhaps’ are weasel words. Don’t assume stuff because you’re lazy.”

Endings often reference the future.

There’s a limit to how much a listener can visualize. Keep descriptions brief.

“Or not. Just throw that shit out.”

(all quotes from Transom instructor Rob Rosenthal)