What is short form vs. long form storytelling?
Most of the movies and TV shows you watch these days follow a long narrative structure. That said, they’ll tell you most of what you’re going to get on the media itself, and the story will usually stretch or run for a longer period of time.
On the other hand, the short storytelling is ambiguous beforehand and has a much shorter edition.
Love, death & robots is a prime example of a short form show. Today we want to see how the show is set up and what we can learn from it.
Check out this video from Wild books for an insight into the psychology of the short form.
Long stories are, well, longer.
game of Thrones is a great example of a long show that ultimately didn’t work in the eyes of most viewers. The fact that it was dragged on for so long and didn’t have a strong ending could actually turn out to be its biggest mistake.
The fans had so much time to theorize and anticipate what was going to happen that when the ending finally came it was utterly disappointing for most.
Several character arcs ended unsatisfactorily.
Not to say that long form is risky or unproven. It’s a model that has worked for many years, but times change.
Netflix Love, death & robots is a great example of short stories. Almost every episode lasts less than 20 minutes and the trailers don’t provide context for every plot.
This results in the audience not having too many expectations because they are not given much. The downside, however, is that it can be risky to reveal your stories this way. Long format media is a near-bulletproof system because, in a way, people already think they know what they’re going to get.
With shorthand, you play with the ambiguity and hope that people are curious and interested enough to immerse themselves in your stories.
Style and substance
On the other hand, an anthology show is like Love, death & robots is able to undermine your expectations on every single episode. The show has a format where each episode is a completely new plot and even has a different style of animation!
In contrast, shows that span multiple seasons of a plot can feel tedious and boring over time. LDR‘s model creates exciting, short, concise stories that are constantly changing and can be consumed quickly.
The question to ask yourself is, would you rather consume a very long story or 10 shorter stories? Of course everyone is different, but having the opportunity is great.
Why should you care
Our attention spans get shorter and shorter every day. Thanks to social media and the internet, we’re used to an instant reward system where we’re only rewarded for swiping a screen. TikTok was built on this idea.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to reach a large number of people with a time-consuming medium. So what do we do
We adapt! I think short stories are a great way to get your vision across in a short amount of time while captivating your audience at the same time.
Not everyone has the time to watch a seven-season drama that is over 40 minutes long.
I remember starting one of the HBO miniseries starting to feel this way. After quitting Mare from Easttown, I was very impressed with how big and emotionally a story it could fit into a seven-part limited series. When I finished, I was also satisfied and glad that I didn’t have to wait until next season to find answers. It was almost a middle ground between movies and episodic television.
In the end
As mentioned earlier, everyone is different. Long-form and short-form content will both be available for a while and will each have their own impact.
However, next time you’re developing your own project, keep the short-form model and its storytelling benefits in mind!
It could possibly be right for you.
What do you think of short media? Are you a fan of Love, death & robots? Let us know in the comments!