How to know if your story is a winner

July 25, 2014 | By Nathanael Yellis

Two weeks ago we talked about why storytelling matters (because it’s how you convince people). This week, we talked about how to tell stories.

Beyond the simple tactics like listening to other stories, watching performers, and practicing your story out loud, we borrowed, from Made to Stick, this list. These seven story archetypes are a gut check: if your story fits an archetype, you’ve found a potential winner.

1. Overcoming the Monster

The fight against Common Core now has this narrative. Take a look at this trailer to see what we mean:

2. Rags to Riches

All politicians have this, but because it’s so common, it’s become trite. Some candidates, like Wendy Davis in Texas, went to such lengths to construct a rags-to-riches narrative, that even the press have to call the bluff. If your story is rags-to-riches, ensure it’s real.

3. The Quest

We’re not sure of the political applications for this story archetype, but in literature it’s The Hobbit. Leave a comment if you have a political example.

4. Voyage and Return

Good post-war speeches use this story to explain what was won and what’s going to change now. You can even glimpse this story archetype in the Gettysburg Address.

5. Comedy

Some media personalities, like Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Glenn Beck, often use comedy to make their points effectively. Comedy is powerful, so deploy comedic stories only when you’re sure they’ll resonate in the right way.

6. Tragedy

Lila Rose in this video tells a few short stories of tragedy to make her point about abortion: [Clip 1 - Play from 2:11 - 3:41]

 

 

7. Rebirth

George W. Bush’s story, from something of a partyboy to, through hard work, a leader in business and Texas, set the stage for his presidency.


Learn about how to tell a story by watching our latest webinar here.