What do you need for an effective story?
We’ve talked about why you need a story for your business and the different types of stories businesses can use in their web marketing. This week we’re talking about how to create an effective story. Once again, we’re speaking with Amy Saidman, the artistic executive director of SpeakEasy DC, an organization dedicated to teaching people how to tell better stories.
“Beginning. Middle. End,” Amy says. “It seems simple, but it’s an often overlooked component, and it’s what differentiates a story from other content. A list of service offerings doesn’t have these, so it’s not a story.”
In addition, every effective story has:
Set-up – set the scene. When and where did the action take place?
Inciting Action – what happened to our protagonist. “This should create a question for the audience,” Amy says. “They should be wondering ‘What’s going to happen?’ If there’s no question, there’s nothing to keep them interested.”
Build – the build can be up or down. “Things can get better or worse,” Amy says, “but each step should get a little better or a little worse.”
Turning Point – this is what the listener or reader has been waiting for – what’s going to happen?
Resolution – what you take away from the story – what changed? This is what provides the emotional impact for the audience. The resolution comes quickly after the turning point.
Additional items for story development
In addition to the essential components of an effective story, these items can add richness and depth to your narrative.
- Context – where is it in time and space? Who is in it? “Any time you say ‘we always,’ that’s not a story,” Amy says.
- Action – something has to be happening.
- Visuals – paint a picture. “Don’t go overboard. It’s not literature, but let your reader or listener imagine the scene.”
- Characters – you have to have at least one person.
- Show, don’t tell – “Instead of saying ‘He was angry,’ give us his words and tell us he was waving his arms and yelling,” Amy says. “Let us see it.”
- Meaning – what’s at stake? What’s the take away? What changed because of this experience?
- Internal thoughts – share the characters’ thoughts and emotions. “It doesn’t matter to us unless it matters to them.”
“Putting all of these elements together,” Amy says, “can help even a large institution find an authentic human voice.”
Now you know:
- Why you should have a story for your business
- The types of stories for business
- The components of an effective story
It often takes several iterations before a person is happy with their story. The SpeakEasy classes are geared to allow critique after each telling and then reflection and refinement.
- Analyze effective stories you’ve heard and remember for the required elements. Think about the build, turning point and resolution. Which were the most satisfying for you?
- Decide which types of stories you want to tell.
- Start crafting your stories.
If you’d like to create your own story, SpeakEasy DC offers classes in the Washington DC area and personal coaching by telephone or Skype. Contact SpeakEasy DC for class or coaching information.
If you need assistance getting your story online, CDG can help with your content strategy, website marketing strategy or website design. Contact us for more information.
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