Skip to Main Content
Stony Brook University

Digital Composition, Storytelling & Multimodal Literacy

Resources for digital composition, storytelling and multimodal literacy.

Great digital stories:

  • are personal
  • are concise
  • begin with the story/script
  • use readily-available source materials

[adapted from Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling, University of Houston]

Character Stories

It is deeply important to us how we love, are inspired by, want to recognize, find meaning in our relationships to other people or pets. 

Memorial Stories

Honoring and remembering people who have passed is an essential part of the process of grieving -- how would you describe this person?  Is there an event/incident that best captures the character?  What about them do/did you most enjoy?  What lesson did they give you?  If you had something to say to them --that they may have never heard you say-- what would it be?

Story About an Event - Adventure Stories

Travel is an invitation to challenge ourselves, to change our perspective, to reassess.  We often return from these experiences with personal realizations.  Recounting our travel stories is as much about sharing those realizations as sharing the sense of beauty or interest in the place visited.

Accomplishment Stories

Stories about achieving a goal, like graduating from school.  These stories easily fit into the desire-struggle-realization structure of a classical story.  They also tend to be documented, so you might find it easy to construct a multimedia story.  What was the event's incidentals (time, place, etc)?  With whom did you experience this event?  What there a defining moment?  How did you feel during this event?  What did you learn?  How did this event change your life?

Story About a Place in My Life

Story about your home, an ancestral home, a town, a park, mountain, or forest you love, a restaurant, store or gathering place.  Your insights into place give us insight about your sense of values and connection to community.  How would you describe this place?  With whom did you share this place?  What experiences do you relate to this place?  Was there a defining experience at this place?  What lessons about yourself do you draw from your relationship to this place? If you have returned to this place, how has it changed?

Story About What I Do

Story shaped by a job, a hobby or ongoing social commitment.  Poignancy often comes from looking at the familiar in a new way, with a new meaning.  What is your profession or interest?  What experiences in your previous life prepared you fro this activity?  Was there an initial event that most affected your decision to pursue this interest?  Who influenced you in shaping your career, interest or skill in this area?  How has profession or interest affected your life as a whole?  What has been the highlight or your vocation/avocation?

Recovery Stories

Sharing the experience of overcoming a great challenge, like a health crisis or a great personal obstacle, is the fundamental archetype in human story making.  If you can transmit the range of experience from descent, to crisis, to realization, you can always move an audience.

Love Stories

Romance and partnership, familial or fraternal love, also naturally lend themselves to the desire-struggle-realization formula.  We all want to know how someone met their partner, or what our relationship is with our siblings and parents.  We constantly test other people's experiences in these fundamental relationships to affirm our own.  These are also stories that tend to have plenty of existing documentation.

Discovery Stories

The process of learning is a rich field to mine for stories.  The detective in us gets great pleasure in illustrating how we uncovered the facts to get at the truth.

[adapted from Joel Lambert Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community; and Mustafa Sakarya]

Getting Started, Getting Through

Cite Your Sources!

Always cite or attribute image, video or sound sources in your digital story, just as we do in text composition.  Here are some citation examples:


Bat by Aleksandra / CC BY NC ND 2.0

Bats hunting for insects.wav / CC BY 3.0