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What makes for a good story? And how can that be learned and applied to your business? A good story might seem like it’s spontaneous, but it’s really part of a simple storytelling process.
There’s an old Indian proverb that says, ?The shortest distance between a human being and the truth is a story. In essence, that is what a good storyteller can and must do: Involve his or her audience via a story that carries them all the way to the truth. This involvement is the key to persuasion. Stories can allow you to take seemingly dry material and involve people emotionally in your presentation.
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What many writers fail to see is that storytelling is about more than just proving how intelligent, erudite, and well-versed you are. The piling on of information might prove that you know a lot of facts or have a lot of technical or scientific knowledge, but it does not necessarily create any sort of emotional connection. And many times, it ends up being this emotional connection that makes your story really sing.
Now, I’d like you to look at your favorite TV commercial or movie or book and think about which storytelling elements were used to connect you to the story.
I bet the storyteller had a single protagonist that you could connect with. I also bet that the story had dramatic action that was full of ups and downs and surprises. Beyond that, there were probably credible situations and lots of conflict. All of these elements are part of s simple storytelling process.
Which of the stories in your life or about your brand or your company do you think are the most effective and why?
STEP 1 A SINGLE SENTENCE/LOGLINE.
Before you start creating your story, can you articulate the general premise in a single sentence? And does the premise really floor people when you tell it to them? Until everyone says, WOW! That’s an awesome idea!? Please, do not go forward.
Let me explain why I believe this. First of all, having this kind of clarity really helps create a coherent, compelling tale. And secondly, if the story is something that you want people to talk about (online or offline) or even tweet about. They are going to do so with a sentence or two. That’s all they will have time for and that’s all that is necessary. And if it is really engaging, people will be hooked and your story will spread. So this is the concept behind this single sentence descriptor.
And please, you need not tell your whole story in one sentence. But do try to at least capture the general idea and the premise so it titillates others to want to learn about the whole story.
STEP 2 THE BIG SEVEN QUESTIONS!
When push comes to shove, there really are just seven essential questions that all storytellers must ask themselves, no matter what kind of story they are working on or what genre. It doesn’t matter. These seven questions remain the same.
1.) Who is your main character? (You can only have one.)
2.) What does your main character want/need/desire? (In other words, what is their dramatic problem and this dramatic problem needs to be articulated in terms of both an inner emotional need and a concrete, physical need that exists outside the protagonist.)
3.) Who/what keeps him/her from achieving what he/she wants? (Who/What are the apparent and true antagonists standing in the way?)
4.) How in the end does s/he achieve what s/he wants in an unexpected, interesting, and unusual way? (For example, even in a love story when we know the lovers are going to get together, we must not know how they are going to get together.)
5.) What are you trying to say by ending the story this way? (What are your THEME and motifs?)
6.) How do you want to tell your story? (Who should tell it, if anyone, and what narrative devices should you employ?)
7.) How do your main character and any supporting characters CHANGE over the course of the story? (This is all about character arc and it is this change that makes the story emotionally compelling to your audience.)
STEP 3 THE STEP OUTLINE
Now, if you’ve succeeded in answering all the Big 7 Questions, you should have good clarity as to what your story is really about. GREAT! Okay, so then it’s time to take that story further and really put it through the wringer to see if it really has what it takes to work! (And if not, don’t fret?soon, I’ll provide some other valuable tricks to help you make it work!)
Now let’s try to put the story back together in the form of a step outline also called a scene or beat outline. Call it what you will, but it’s just basically a series of sentences or small paragraphs outlining the story as a whole.
And please note, you can do this process with both a story that’s already been written and/or with an idea that has yet to be fleshed out. If you’ve got an old story you want to rework, try to do a step outline where you articulate in a sentence or two the purpose of every big moment in the story. If you have just an idea, try to imagine what each beat or event in the story should do in terms of telling your story as a whole, and record those in the order that you think they’ll take place in the story.
Either way, seeing all the major moments in your story laid out in front of you, should be really illuminating. If in doing this, you soon realize that there are major gaps in your story, then this process has forced you to see where there are holes in your story and now all you have to do is figure out how to fill those holes with the necessary story elements. Easy as pie, right?
The key factor is not one of budget. It is really about understanding your product, your audience, and your needs in terms of what’s happening next with your brand and then creating a new brand narrative that emotionally engages your core target market.
That is all, and that is more than enough.