04 June 13:05

How To Tell Stories Everyone Will Love

Ever wonder why storytelling seems so hard, but when you hear a good story, it stays with you?
It turns out there’s a science to it.
By Mediaplanet Creative Team

Good stories light up the neural pathways in our brains. They literally excite us. And they even give us a hit of a powerful hormone called oxytocin. (The same one that’s released when we fall in love, ride a rollercoaster, or get lots of likes on Facebook.)

The result is that stories connect, they captivate, and they’re easy to remember.

It’s why they’ve been a fundamental part of being human since humans started developing language 100,000 years ago.

Our stone age ancestors couldn’t write, but they could tell a story. And everyone in a Neolithic clan who heard what happened after one of their group ate some certain berries would never forget it.

So how can you write stories that your audience will never forget?

The secret sauce is in getting the right mix of these four elements.

1. Make your story relatable

What makes stories great? Well, reliability for one thing.

Take this story idea, for example: an orphan boy finds out he has magical powers and is the chosen to lead a group of underdogs in the fight against evil.

It might not sound relatable at first. But to anyone who’s ever felt under-appreciated or who lives under the thumb of someone whom they’d love to triumph over, it’s sure to connect. And of course it did, since you probably recognize it as the plot of “Harry Potter” and a ton of other great books and movies.

2. Make it novel, but not too novel

Sure, you want your story to be as relatable as possible, but that doesn’t mean it should be boring — or the same thing we’ve seen over and over.

Our brains also light up every time we see something new. It’s a holdover from the stone age, when anything new could be life-threatening. So make sure to include some plot twists or unusual settings to light up your audience’s brains.

But then again, if your story is too original, it could be confusing or overwhelming. Be too novel and your audience will lose interest and shut down.

So where’s the sweet spot? The place where relatability and novelty come together in one compelling mix.


3.  Give it some tension

You don’t have a story without tension. You, know, the “will she or won’t she” that carries a great story along…

Aristotle said that the job of storyteller is to be to create a gap between “what should be” and “what is.”

What you want to do is string your audience along by setting them up to expect one thing (the “what should be”) and then to give them something else (“what is”). Do this a few times before finally landing on “what should be” and you’ll have your audience sitting on the edge of their chairs until the end.

4. Make it simple

Content marketers tend to think writing needs to sound smart,  flowery, or maybe even convoluted to be good. But when you look at authors who are loved by millions, they often write at an elementary school level. Stephen King, Ernest Hemingway, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling… anyone can understand their stories and come under their spell.

This is perhaps the easiest fix you can make to your stories. Stop trying to sound smart and instead try to connect with your audience. Remember, all that jargon you learned researching effective content marketing techniques means nothing to most people. Cut the jargon and make your writing easy to understand and you’ll also cut down the barrier to entry.

With a relatable story, a twist of originality or two and a bit of tension tension — all written as simply as you can — your audience members will easily connect with your story… and your brand.

Watch this video for more:

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