We all love a good story. If it stirs our emotions so that we feel love, empathy, hate, anger or joy, they inspire us to take action in our own lives or to influence others. Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, sci-fi or adventure, it has to be believable on some level for people to connect.
There are three key plot techniques that run through all forms of storytelling and can be applied to your own 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 to the channel and your audience.
The following storytelling plots can help you tell your own story or someone else’s in a way that others can relate.
Tip 1 – The Challenge Plot
Everyone loves the underdog. This story format is as old as time as it speaks to our inner caveperson about the need to survive. It’s about triumph over adversity, or something big against something small. Think David and Goliath or George and the Dragon.
It can be as simple as overcoming the odds like the hare and the tortoise. This idea of triumph over adversity was the angle behind an article about Katz Cowley, the illustrator of the global success that is The Wonky Donkey. Read the article in Manor Magazine here: http://bit.ly/WonkyDonkeyFeature
Wonky rises above the fact that he’s a ‘stinky-dinky, winky, wonky donkey’, becoming the hero of his own story, which is lovingly brought to life by Katz’ illustrations. It’s been a triumph too for Katz to see her work being embraced by hearts and minds in her home country at last and being recognised as the co-creator of the book.
Tip 2 – The Connection Plot
This is when two characters meet from supposedly opposing sectors of society, who shouldn’t get on but surprisingly, find a connection. An iconic example is Disney’s Lady and the Tramp.
Romantic comedy relies on this plot technique time and again. In Love Actually, the prime minister (Hugh Grant) falls for his foul mouthed east-end secretary (Martine McCutcheon). They are two people from very different backgrounds yet they come together and actually fall in love.
When societal structures imposed on us such as race, class, affluence or gender differences 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.
It could be an unlikely partnership or two opposing sides to an argument that finds common ground.
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.
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.
In film, Mission Impossible or Da Vinci Code are examples of this concept taken to the extreme.
Life hacks are hugely popular and shareable on social media that show simple solutions to everyday problems. From Marie Kondo’s de-cluttering solutions to Jamie Oliver’s family meals for a fiver, they provide easy-to-follow guidance on how to improve our lives with their simple solutions.
If you’ve got something new that solves an everyday problem, you’ve got your 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.
Remember everyone has at least one story to tell. What’s yours?