Storytelling with Keynote

Since my favorite storytelling format is a digital hybrid somewhere between a journal and a scrapbook, I need a software platform that supports a broad range of features. My favorite storytelling platform has to be Keynote, Apple’s presentation graphics app. You may be more familiar with presentation graphics for building  . . . presentations, but you will be pleasantly surprised to discover they have a creative side too. Keynote, along with Microsoft’s PowerPoint, Corel’s WordPerfect Presentations and OpenOffice’s Impress apps, are also very nice scrapbooking platforms. My storytelling style could be described as a scrapbook with plenty of journaling.

This storytelling style is probably not the best format for a traditional family history. Presentation graphics apps support text, but they are not very good writing platforms. Text does not automatically paginate when you fill up one page and spell-check is probably the only writing-support feature. In my case, I’m building my book from a series of short stories – most of which began as blog posts. I’m blogging my stories as the research/inspiration/memory/whatever motivates them. Later, they may become an element in a digital scrapbook. These scrapbooks will continue to grow as new stories are added. But that’s the joy of digital (one of many, actually). Just add it to the existing project and move things around until it all fits together the way you want.

Since the wordsmithing is already done, my focus is on finding the right supporting media (photos, video and audio) and building an attractive page layout. Although presentation apps all have a number of themes, giving you instant design capabilities, most are focused on the business world. We are beginning to see a few photo book themes appear, but I prefer to begin with a basic white theme and a blank slide.

Childhood Sounds story pageIn this example, the story is about sounds I remember from my childhood in the 1950s. One of those memories is of the shrimp boats motoring out in the early morning. Shrimp boats weren’t often included in my family’s Kodak moments back then so I had to make do with something more recent. This is a photo I took recently and the large amount of sky in the shot meant it had potential as the background to the story’s text. There was one small problem. As a color photo, the picture was the focus – not the text. By using a cheap photo-art app, I converted the photograph to a monochrome sketch which not only allowed the text to stand out, but gave it a vintage look too.

Traditional scrapbooks – especially those created prior to the digital age – are often an eclectic collection of memorabilia and stories. Because older scrapbooks didn’t always offer the ability to add or rearrange pages, they offered a somewhat chronological look at the events, people and things that person found interesting. Thanks to apps like Keynote, we can build stories in whatever order they come to us, save them into one or more presentation files and rearrange the order of individual stories within a file at any time. It’s as easy as dragging slides up and down the slide view panel.

Not only do my presentation/scrapbook projects fit my style, they are also a big hit with my family – including the younger ones. My goal is to tell the stories of the people who were a part of my life and show them as the fun and fascinating characters they were – not just vital records in a genealogy database. Storytelling with Keynote helps make that happen.