Weave a Story Into Your Message – Studying Storytelling

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From my marketing years what I have been realizing – the most important thing for any piece of content is the story. It is all about story telling. Whether that is a book, a video blog, or a Hollywood movie – everything boils down to telling a good story.

I was able to read a new book about the Art of Storytelling called – “Don’t Sell Me, Tell Me” by Greg Koorhan and have been writing notes on it over and over again. I just want to write my summary here – it is a book I have read twice and will read again. It is a fast read which I appreciate as it is no nonsense and gets to the point.

##All Stories Boil Down To These Points – Themes – Templates of a Story

What I liked the most in the book was how he gives us 7 templates of stories that all follow, one way or another

  1. Defeat the Monster – this can be a real monster, or a hypothetical one. We are working together to combat smoking, let’s take it down.
  2. Rags to Riches – one of my favorite stories. The story of someone born without much who works hard and sometimes even gets lucky by meeting the right person. I am thinking of one of my favorite movies “Great Expectations”.
  3. Quest – Let’s go on a crusade to fix something. Starts with one person who has a problem and wants to fix it, but puts together a band of others who come together to fight it and achieve the goal.
  4. Voyage and Return – something bugs the main character and he/she needs to leave their hometown to do something – with the goal of coming home at the end.
  5. Comedy – this was a cool template, it isn’t just about being funny – what comedy really is is that there is a big confusion at the beginning of the story, and the story ends with it becoming clear and that is the funny part.
  6. Tragedy – not commonly used, this is Romeo and Juliet style where something sad happens at the end. Obviously most people don’t like it.
  7. Rebirth – Scrooge, someone who is not happy and not enjoying the life they live- and then a revelation happens and they are re-born a “new man”.

Such a cool list of templates. I am trying to embed these in my memory and use them in everything I do for all the kinds of content I am making. The author says, which I agree with, that templates do not reduce our creativity – but actually help us increase it. By standardizing the more boring parts, we can focus on the true creativity.

For me, what I am thinking about – the most important parts is the plot, and the characters.

Then the book goes on to talk about 4 parts of a story that is required / suggested to include to be successful.

Here are 4 things that we need:

  1. Emotional connection – something that people want to feel. They understand the story, and it is something that sparks their emotions of happiness, etc.
  2. Relatable – they can see themselves in those shoes. Seeing the main character, they can see themselves as that person in the journey / quest / story. I wonder if they need to be the main character or they can see and relate as a different character in the story?
  3. Suspense – what will happen next?
  4. Inspiration – motivate the person reading, listening, watching the story to take action. To feel good and want to make a change.

There you go. I feel this is an amazing formula to check each time you make a video, make a book, or anything for that matter. Content creation is such a challenge and we need to work hard to find ways to ensure what we are creating is resonating and getting the attention it needs.

I literally have these taped to my laptops “side of screens” and have referenced that to write this blog. I hope you see the value as well.

How do you plan out your content? Your story? Your plot? Your characters?

Thanks for writing this book Greg, I recommend anyone serious about creating content to read it – a fast read.

Don’t Sell Me, Tell Me: How to use storytelling to connect with the hearts and wallets of a hungry audience Kindle Edition
by Greg Koorhan  (Author)


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