Academic Writing is CRAP Storytelling


TV PresX1Over the years university students I have met have told me there is a simple formula to writing an essay –

  1. You EXPLAIN THE POINT you are going to make in the essay
  2. Then you MAKE THE POINT by presenting the arguments


A very different approach is required when presenting a story for television. For example, when we discuss storytelling in the TV Presenters Workshop we ALL agree that there is a simple and functional formula for Story Structure –

  1. There’s a BEGINNING – where the audience is engaged with a problem
  2. There’s a MIDDLE – where the difficulty in solving the problem increases and the audience’s engagement with the issue increases
  3. There’s an END where either –
    1. the problem is resolved (happy ending)
    2. the problem can’t be resolved (a tragedy)
    3. the solution to the problem is still to be resolved (leaving the audience to decide).


If you assess the structure of a academic essay and compare it to the structure of a story, then you discover –

  1. EXPLAINING THE POINT you are going to make DOESN’T engage the audience with the problem. In fact, it delivers the ending at the start. That means there isn’t a beginning.
  2. MAKING THE POINT by presenting the argument generally means ordering a list of facts or opinions that support the point you are making. This means that rather than the difficulty increasing along with the audience engagement – it is most probable that both those elements are being constantly diminished.
  3. At this stage EXPLAINING THAT POINT HAS BEEN MADE is entirely redundant and a waste of space. It is already plain to the audience that the argument has been made as we have just read it. What is more the beginning has already told us what the outcome will be. Telling the audience something they already know is unlikely to provide a sense of story completion. The reader/audience is now back at the beginning where they started rather than learning something new at the end.
    And whatever that ending is will make the reason for telling the story clear, because every story has a point to make.

The structure of an academic essay is not a linear and progressive journey but circular and self-fulfilling one. That’s why university essays have a very high likelihood of being very dull reading.

If you are a presenter on television you definitely DON’T want to use the academic essay structure when creating your piece to camera. The common sense approach is to USE STORY STUCTURE …

  • ENGAGE the audience with a ‘difficulty’ …
  • increase that difficulty …
  • and land an appropriate ending (that makes the point).

Both for actors and TV Presenters this simple and practical approach to story is the one we use in workshops at The Rehearsal Room. We use it because it works.


tvpres10The next TV PRESENTERS Workshop starts on 17th July 2016.
FOR DETAILS … go here!           Enrol here.

SKILL BUILDER     Saturday 4th June 2016
A one-day workshop for those who have completed the TV Presenters Workshop. Four presenters will record 4 pieces to camera.

FOR DETAILS … go here!               Enrol here






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