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Story Telling

12 Aug 2021 · v1.0.0 · Prof. Dr. Ulrich Anders


Story telling is a significant skill. It enables you to market your ideas, companies, products or convictions. The more digital and complex the world becomes, the more story telling becomes important to transport content, to share believes or to generate buy-in.

There is no one way to story-telling and there is no right or wrong. But there certainly are stories which are interesting and which are boring.

What a story is

»The anatomy of story« from John Truby is a classic and recommended read. He defines story as: »A speaker tells a listener what someone did to get what he wanted and why.« So story telling is about desire. It tracks »what a person wants, what he'll do to get it, and what costs he'll have to pay along the way.«

Truby goes on: »Good story telling lets the audience relive events in the present so they can understand the forces, choices, and emotions that led the character to do what he did.« And all the time the hero has to struggle. »Any character who goes after a desire and is impeded is forced to struggle (otherwise the story is over). An that struggle makes him change.«

Finally, in good story telling, the author always puts a little mystory element into it: »The author tells the audience certain information about a made-up character and he withholds certain information. This forces the audience to figure out who the character is and what he is doing.«

The anatomy of story

According to John Truby every story consists of the following elements, independent of whether or not they have been devised by the author:

  1. Premise
  2. Story structure
  3. Character
  4. Theme (moral argument)
  5. Story world
  6. Symbol Web
  7. Plot
  8. Scene weave
  9. Scene construction and symphonic dialogue

Some resources to learn more about story telling

If you want to get to know more about story telling, these resources may help to get a clearer picture:

Musings on story telling

»If we take a risk and show that we are human and vulnerable then that's where the best stories lie.«
— Andrea Gibbs

»Know your audience.«
— Matt Chan

"Hook'em early.«
— Garr Reynolds

»Hold them [the audience] still for just a moment in life and have them wonder.«
— Andrew Stanton

»Make a promise. This story leads somewhere that is worth your time.«
— Andrew Stanton

»Make the audience put things together. Don't give them 4, give them 2 + 2.«
— Andrew Stanton

»You don't believe the message, if you don't believe the messenger.«
— Dr. Veit Etzold

»Overcoming bad things makes us happier than if these bad things would have never happened.«
— Dr. Veit Etzold

»We impose stories. They help experience reality in a way that makes sense, that we can process, and that help us cope. Stories are how we live our lifes.«
— Nick Morgan

»You are not telling the story to change what happened. You're telling the story to change you.«
— Donald Davis

»A story is a mystery box.«
— J.J. Abrams

»A story is the catalyst for imagination."
— J.J. Abrams

© Prof. Dr. Ulrich

Last change: 2024-07-05|14:47


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