Everyone loves a good story, it’s human nature. If it stirs our emotions in any way, so that we feel love, empathy, hate, anger or joy, it can influence the way we live our lives and the stories we go on to tell others. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, sci-fi or adventure, a story has to believable on an emotional level for people to connect.
There are three key plot techniques that run through all forms of storytelling, all of which can be applied to the stories you tell on your website, blog or social media. Just remember that the medium is the message, so your story has to be packaged up in a way that’s appropriate for the channel and the audience you’re trying to reach.
Tip 1 – The Challenge Plot
The underdog always wins. This story format speaks to our inner cave person about the need to survive. It’s about triumph over adversity, or something big against something small. Think David and Goliath, George and the Dragon or the Tortoise and the Hare.
The idea of triumph over adversity is as old as time and particularly pertinent in a global pandemic. If you’ve had to overcome the odds to keep your business on track, tell that story and people will be able to relate.
It’s easier said than done, especially when it can be so personal or raw but you don’t have to reveal all the details. A simple hint that things may be difficult right now or that you’ve had to close, keeps your customers informed and they’ll be ready to support you when things return to normal.
Practice makes perfect, so start by revealing snippets of your story and see how people react. You might even find that a problem shared is a problem halved, as people are often willing to help and support in a crisis.
Tip 2 – The Connection Plot
This is when two characters meet from opposing sectors of society, who shouldn’t really get on but surprisingly, they find a connection. Think Lady and the Tramp, When Harry Met Sally or the tragic Romeo and Juliet.
Romantic comedy relies on this plot technique time and again. In Love Actually, the prime minister, played by Hugh Grant, falls for his foul mouthed east-end secretary, Martine McCutcheon. They’re two people from very different backgrounds, yet they come together and actually fall in love.
Social structures are imposed on us and create a sense of difference, whether it’s our race, class, affluence or gender. When these barriers that divide us are broken down and erased, we find we’re only human after all and there’s far more that unites us than sets us apart.
To tell this story, you first need to show how the two characters are very different and then show how they are in fact very similar. It could be an unlikely partnership or two opposing sides to an argument that finds common ground.
Tip 3 – The Creativity Plot
Stories that show how a seemingly impossible situation can be overcome with a new way of doing things can make people reassess their beliefs.
Films like Mission Impossible or the Da Vinci Code for example, take this concept to the extreme. There are various creative ways in which a business or a brand can adopt this technique.
Life hacks are hugely popular and make for shareable posts on social media. If you can show a simple solution to an everyday problem, it adds value to your content by providing your audience with useful information. Think Marie Kondo’s de-cluttering solutions or Jamie Oliver’s family meals for a fiver. They provide easy-to-follow guidance on how to improve our cluttered lives or increasingly stretched finances with simple solutions.
If you’ve got something new that solves an everyday problem, tell that story. Focus on the problem first and then show it can be solved with your product or service.
Be mindful of the things that happen in your life that others will find interesting, inspiring and meaningful. By knowing these three plot types you can be on the lookout for these experiences and tell these stories in a way that people can relate.
Everyone has at least one story to tell. What’s yours?