Yearbook Resources: Learn to Write in Slow Motion

When big things happen in your life, be they traumatic or positive, your memory often replays them at a slower speed than normal. This allows you to capture all of the unique details that made the moment distinct. From the seconds leading into a car accident to the moment that a baby is born, the way we recall intense or special events is different than that of the everyday. In your yearbook, you’re also recording many of the noteworthy experiences your students had throughout the school year. So how can you evoke a similar concept with the articles you include in your book?

Today, I’m exploring a yearbook resource that helps you slow down time when you’re writing. This TED Talk by Aaron Sitze is the perfect place to start for slow-mo writing–and here is where we apply it to your yearbook! So by the time you get your team on board with this very distinct style of writing, you’ll have the most engaging yearbook your school has ever laid eyes on!

Think Like A Movie

To really capture the moment-by-moment view of a particular second in time,  you need to think about your stories as if you were filming a movie. I don’t mean that you need to manufacture drama or actually record every moment of every event to capture a minute level of detail. Instead, think about the technical way a movie comes to life: with a series of snapshots that quickly play across the screen in rapid succession, to give the total movie effect we know and enjoy. However, if you slow that rate of playback down, you capture more detail from the scene, giving the moment more significance. And when you think about real life in this way, you can start to slow down your writing style to offer the same Hollywood effect for your yearbook.

Slow Motion Writing

When the readers of your yearbook devour what’s on a particular page, they absorb the words in a way that creates pictures in their mind. Those pictures translate to a moving image in their imagination. Your goal is to slow that moving image down, allowing them to both take in the details from your article and insert some of their own memories from the event. To encourage your reader to slow down, and enjoy the moment with you, you need to slow your writing down,  and stretch out your story.

But how? To write in slow motion, you need to put every detail from your own memory into print. Think specifics! Walk your reader through each second of the action to put them in the same short seconds of time with you. By modifying your writing style to draw the moment out, you’ll create the same effect of slowing down time that we see in the movies. Not only is this a more engaging way to communicate with your readers, but it will help you to form a stronger, more personal connection between the reader and your story–which immediately makes your yearbook a more significant piece of their world.

Practice, Practice, Practice

While it doesn’t take a bunch of fancy writing tips and tricks to create the effect of slowing down time, it is a tactic that takes some practice. This TED Talk uses an excellent example that is quite applicable to your school, and the stories you’ll include within your yearbook. Use it as an exercise in conjunction with some of the content you’ve already created to give your current stories a more drawn-out effect.

For example, Your initial stab at slowing down time for the final seconds of a championship basketball game might look something like:

He shot the ball in the hoop. Time seemed to slow down – and then we won!

While this communicates the specifics of what happened, it doesn’t go into much detail to get your audience excited about the story. Instead, try adding more detail:

He bent his knees and held the ball loosely. Letting the ball bounce on the floor once more, he appeared to gather his thoughts. He knew that this was the moment – the moment of glory, or failure. His right arm extended as he released the ball with a gentle flick of his wrist. It rotated slightly, as it arched towards the rim. The crowd held their breath, waiting in anticipation. The ball nudged the back rim, falling through the net with a gentle swish. And the crowd exploded from their seats. We won!

It’s easy to see the difference between the two. The second put the tiniest of details into your mind, making you feel like you were actually there–it provided both mental and physical description–what he was thinking, and the sights and sounds of the court. That’s how you want to communicate the best stories in your yearbook: by taking your time and inserting loads of detail.

Detailed Writing to Improve Your Content

When you’re creating awesome stories for your yearbook, and want to slow the reader down to really put them in the moment with you, it’s not enough to just say that time slowed down. You need to go beyond your most descriptive writing, and encapsulate every moment from that big event into your story. By including every thought, smell, and noise into your article, you’ll make the reader feel like they’re reliving that moment with you. And that’s exactly how you create a story that builds emotion into the pages of your book, making it one your students will cherish forever.