A Powerful Storytelling Script For Your Blog

Published by Doctor Spin on September 10, 2014

It’s quite difficult to become an accomplished storyteller. I would know, having spent most my life dreaming of becoming a novelist and working as a public relations officer. There’s just all of these factors coming into play when you’re trying to tell stories that captivates and entertains an audience.

And being able to do this in a corporate context? Well, you can of course take the scenic route and actually learn how to write long- and short stories. But for corporate flacks like you and me, shouldn’t there be an easier way than becoming an accomplished fiction writer?

Here’s what I’ve discovered:

Becoming A Fiction Writer — The Scenic Route

A) You must learn how to write. No matter how you present your final product, writing drama is at the core of what you need in order to get done to get off the ground. Here’s three books that I personally find myself coming back to:

On Writing Well by William Zinsser Becoming A Novelist by John Gardner Elements Of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White

(Before you bash me on my writing here on the blog, please bear in mind that I’m a native writer in Swedish and not in English, ha!)

B) You need to understand the storytelling elements. I while back I put together this horrendously ugly “infographic” simply because I felt that an overview like this was missing (and it’s been shared like 6,000+ times on Tumblr or something like that). Here’s how I structured the storytelling elements in order to get them sorted out (with some examples from Star Wars):

  1. The Contract — Right in the beginning of the first real Star Wars movie, you get to see Star Destroyers in deep space shooting lasers and Darth Vader taking Princess Leia hostage while they literally negotiate the whole dramatic setup before Leia’s taken to her cell.
  2. The Pull — The Empire literally uses a tractor beam, but we’re drawn into the story by two droids, R2-D2 and C3PO. R2-D2 knows something, but can only beep and blip, so C3PO has to ask lots of questions and repeat the answers in order to pull the viewer into the story.
  3. The Incident — After having a fight with his alleged parents, Luke Skywalker runs away from home and gets attacked by Sand People but is then saved by his mysterious uncle, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
  4. The Reveal — R2-D2 shows his message from Princess Leia, thus opening up a whole new world for Luke Skywalker and then Obi-Wan Kenobi explains about the Jedi.
  5. Point of No Return — Luke Skywalker then realizes his life will never be the same as he rushes home to find his family butchered. He decides to follow Obi-Wan Kenobi and the droids on their adventure to save Princess Leia.
  6. Mini-Climax — Luke Skywalker, together with new companions Han Solo and Chewbacca, manages to save Princess Leia, but at the same time Obi-Wan Kenobi is struck down by Darth Vader.
  7. All-is-Lost Moment — As the rebels mobilize to strike against the Death Star, they suffer heavy losses against a superior military force. The all-is-lost moment is condensed into Admiral Ackbar’s legendary line, “It’s a trap!”
  8. News of Hope — With Darth Vader himself in a Tie-fighter and Luke Skywalker as one of the few surviving pilots in his and R2-D2’s X-Wing, Luke gets surprising help from Han Solo, returns with the might of the Millennium Falcon.
  9. Climax — Luke Skywalker completes his character arc for this movie by summoning the spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi and by using the Force, he saves the day, and more importantly, takes his first real step towards fulfilling his destiny to become the last Jedi knight.
  10. The End — They get medals and stuff but more importantly — the team is now assembled and is now ready to face the Empire yet again.

Exercise: Now, try to do this yourself. Classic stories are often the easiest to analyze because of how clean their dramatic builds are. Try finding these components for Lord Of The Rings — or Jaws!

C) Practice, practice, practice. As a teen, I tried my hardest to actually write a novel. At the most I got to a 200+ A4 pages which is enough text to be a novel and that’s great, right? Well, not so much.

With every paragraph I wrote, I quickly became better, not only at expressing myself in text, but I also made style- and tonality improvements. The problem was of course that this made my writing extremely uneven and I had to make constant choices of whether to go back and rewrite from the ground up — or simply start over from scratch.

After a while I was writing prose for the sake of style instead of joy. That was a bad idea and it took me forever to realize this simple rule:

If you enjoy writing it, someone will enjoy reading it. Everything else is just snobbery.

Here’s a few easy-to-use scripts to use to practice storytelling in less than 15 minutes:

D) “The first draft of anything is shit.” Allegedly, Ernest Hemingway said that. If you’re serious about writing, rewriting should be second nature to you. As you mature as a storyteller and you find your voice — AND you manage to actually put a coherent story together, the rewriting process starts.

When it comes to developing drafts, I really like the technique used by author and biographer Neil Strauss:

So the actual writing is just the tip of the iceberg. Becoming the next George Lucas or JK Rowling requires your full dedication. But without going all Rayomond Carver on your corporate blog, how can you simply hack the challenges A-D above and get the benefits of basic storytelling into your corporate blogging efforts?

Here’s how:

An Easy-To-Follow Script For Storytelling In Corporate Blogging

Here I’ve developed an easy-to-follow script for you:

  1. Big Promise — Why should anyone read your post? A big promise ensures your readers to know what to expect from this story. Of course you need to also deliver on your promise, but that should really go without saying.
  2. Despair — You need to explain that you understand the frustration, and that you’ve been there yourself. Why should anyone trust your story otherwise? Most writers rush by this part to get to the solution, but all good stories focus more on the hardships than on anything else.
  3. Discovery — When, how and why did you decide to find a solution to your problem? This is the “point-of-no-return” which is needed to engage the readers into your story. Tell them when, how and why you discovered your solution.
  4. Solution — As for the solution (or should I say resolution?), keep it brief and to the point.
  5. Call-To-Action — And finally, since you’re creating a blog post, you should leave the reader with a clear notion of what to do next. See also Why You Should Include Call-To-Actions In Digital PR.

Yes, those of you who are into advertising and selling might se the resemblance between this script and AIDA, which stands for Attention — Interest — Desire — Action. I don’t think this is a coincidence; we’re sold on stories, too. Speaking of AIDA: Remember Alec Baldwin’s speech in Glengarry Glen Ross? If you haven’t seen that scene, you should!

May the Force be with all of us!

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Originally published at doctorspin.me on September 10, 2014.

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