I went to a class last night at General Assembly called ‘How to tell your startup story’. I was interested for our company ExchangeMyPhone but also as a memoirist. What is the perfect storytelling technique? Does that even exist?
Obviously we all have the story of our lives. We have all lived a certain number of years, we have a journey to tell people about.
The tricky part is figuring out which story, of the many stories we have, is worth telling. Specifically which parts are interesting?
According to Jerome from Narativ, the answer to which story is pretty simple. You have to find out which ones are relevant to your end goal and to your audience. And the only way to find that out is by testing them out and practicing over and over again. You have to see what different stories work well with different listeners. Some of your stories may bore people to tears, others may sit them on the edge of their seat desperate to hear what you will say next.
At the crux of the class was the idea that there is no one perfect story, that our stories should change depending on who we are telling them to. We should essentially hang our stories from our figurative belt and draw upon them as needed.
However, although we may have an arsenal of stories at our disposal, the format should remain the same for each one. Each piece should have a beginning, a turning point and an end.
Was storytelling really that simple? It had to be more complicated than that. Surely.
And it was. We got into body language and dialogue and details and relevance. But it all came back to the methodology. What happened? What was the obstacle? How did you find a solution?
It is a handy tool for anyone who has ever experienced writer’s block. Work out where you are heading, why you are telling the story and what your goal is. Then take away all the opinions and conjecture and just tell us what happened. If it is your story, no-one can argue with it. Once you have told us what happened, raise the stakes. The bigger the obstacle, the bigger the tension, and the more of our attention you have. Set up key moments in the story when things shift and move us towards the ending.
With that, I’m back to writing for the afternoon but I’d love to hear your stories.
If you had to write three sentences (a beginning, a turning point and an ending) what would your story look like?