Most of the things we hear and see during the day are noises that just come and go. Most people fail to get our attention because they suck at storytelling. In the book, Building a storybrand, the author Donald Miller says that story is the greatest weapon we have to combat noise because it organizes information in such a way that people are compelled to listen. This is a book written for business owners but it actually gives a very nice framework for storytelling. Miller is a former screenwriter and has deconstructed some great movies like star wars and lord of the rings to uncover principles that we can use to make our messages into great stories that will stick. He discovered that every story has the following framework.
A character who wants something, but he has a problem that is struggling with, and then he meets a guide, the guide gives him a plan, and calls him to action, that helps him avoid failure, and end in success.
Countless movies and novels and TV shows follow this framework. Let’s see it for ourselves.
The first step is the character that wants something. At the beginning of the star wars, Luke wants to avenge the murder of his aunt and uncle. At the beginning of The Bourne Identity, Jason Bourne desperately wants to know who he is. In every great story, we know exactly what the hero wants. Because otherwise, we cannot engage in the story. Once we know what he wants, we pay attention, we wanna know how he will get what he wants.
But there is a challenge that hero has to face. Stories usually have a villain. In every great movie, there is always something that stands in the way of what the hero wants. Facing these challenges is what makes those stories great. Just think how exciting harry potter would be without the threat of Baltimore. Or how entertaining Star Wars would be without Darth Vader. So far the hero wants something but there is a challenge standing in his way and the hero doesn’t know how to overcome that challenge.
That’s the time when a guide steps into a hero’s life. The guide usually has some experience and can help the hero get what he wants. In Star Wars, it’s Obi-Wan Kenobi that acts as a mentor for Luke Skywalker.
Then the guide gives the hero a plan. In Star Wars, Obi-Wan Kenobi tells Luke Skywalker that he should become a Jedi.
And calls him to action. “Use the Force, Luke” is what Obi-Wan Kenobi wants him to do.
That action helps him to avoid failure. If harry potter or Luke Skywalker don’t overcome the external and internal forces in their story, the world or galaxy will be enslaved by an evil force. Harry Potter and Star Wars are great stories because heroes in these stories face dire consequences if they don’t succeed.
And finally, the hero succeeds and achieves what he was looking for.
Miller says that every great movie pulls an audience in and holds the attention by ensuring the audience always knows the answer to three questions. We call them three essential story questions. If you clarify your message such that the answer to these three questions is clear, then your message will feel like a story that cuts through the noise and captures people’s attention.
Story Question #1: What does the hero want?
Luke wanted to avenge his aunt’s murder. Jason Bourne wanted to know who he is.
Story Question #2: Who or what is opposing the hero from getting what he wants?
Harry Potter had to face Baltimore. Luke Skywalker had to face Darth Vader.
Story Question #3: What’s at stake?
If Harry Potter or Luke Skywalker fail, they will face dire consequences.
These are proven story frameworks and you can use these tips to make sure that your message will grab the attention of people and build a connection with people.