S.T.O.R.Y. Framework is a roadmap you can follow to design almost any business story.
You’ve heard, “life is a journey,” or “what goes around comes around.” We naturally talk about careers, our business, or paths through life, as a “journey,” with its obstacles to overcome, treasures to be found, lessons to learn; driving us to seek our purpose and achieve our goals. The same expressions are present in every language and country around the world. This is not a cultural coincidence. It’s embedded in humanity’s subconscious.
Best-seller authors and epic screenwriters have been reverse engineering Joseph Campbell’s “Hero With a Thousand Faces” since it was published, and I’m going to show you how to do the same.
The S.T.O.R.Y. Framework is not a formula – stories are works of art, there is no formula for art. Think of it as a “story map,” because like a good hiking map, it offers GPS waypoints to guide story design.
Let’s begin with an easy to remember acronym and follow it around the circle above.
- Who is your ideal customer/listener/reader?
- What main idea or purpose do you want to communicate?
- What action do you want your audience to take?
Subject: Your Story’s context: When and where does the story take place? Who is the main character, your Hero? Is it you or your customer or your brand even?
Treasure: The Treasure is your main character’s goal they seek to win or find on the journey. Identify his/her true goal and consequences if it is won (or lost).
Obstacles: Who or what Obstacle(s) are standing in the way of the character reaching their goal or Treasure? The forces of opposition, or conflict, come in two distinct types: internal and external conflicts. Both are necessary for a good Story.
Return (a.k.a. Result) What happened to our Hero in the end? What lesson did the main character learn? What did she or he bring back to share after overcoming the obstacles encountered on the journey?
YWhY is the moral of the story, that subtly compels your listener to take an action you desire. Why is the link back to the reason you are telling this story.
When these five essential components are present, your listener knows they are hearing a good Story and instinctively treat it as valuable information to remember and act upon.
Why is the map circular?
Campbell studied every human myth from every corner and culture of the planet back to prehistoric times. He found a common pattern underlies all humanity’s myths, what he termed the “monomyth.” The pattern he documented was a symbolic circular “journey” undertaken by a figurative hero.
The journey begins when the hero is forced to leave the safe orderly world and travel into unknown territory, searching to find something he needs and overcoming obstacles which stand in the way. Once this object of desire is found and taken, our hero must return to where he started, changed or capable of change, in order to share the lessons learned from the journey and restore order and balance. (My apologies to Campbell fans for the brevity of that summation. Hero With a Thousand Faces is a 300+ page deep read but I highly recommend it.)
The details may be different for each of our stories, yet our shared humanity – the common myths, which we unconsciously use to make sense of the Unknown (those everyday obstacles or once in a lifetime events), are the same in all our stories. The S.T.O.R.Y. Framework is based on this truth.
To begin designing your Story … start at its end
The end is where a good business story begins. Just like achieving a business objective or personal goal, a business storyteller needs to spec the purpose of their story before they can start to design it.
This may sound counter-intuitive, so let me give you an illustration: imagine you want to visit a friend who lives 10 km away. You turn the ignition key of your car and pull out into traffic. At this moment you don’t know which traffic lights on your way to your friend’s house will be red or green, or if it will take ten or twenty minutes to get there. But you do know where you are going.
It’s the same for your purpose-driven story. Before defining the story’s elements, you need to know the purpose you wish to impart in the telling – the action you want your reader to take after hearing or reading it. – here are four prompts to get you started:
Finding Your Story’s Purpose
- Who is your ideal listener?
- What will make your listener care?
- What’s at stake for them if nothing changes?
- What do you want your listener to do next?
What I want you to do next:
1. Stop being ignored.
2. Start using good business stories so your messages are heard and acted upon.
3. Right now: contact me and ask for my Story First introductory offer for a free :60 minute consultation.
We’ll go over what story you need to tell and what’s at stake – for you and your audience. Then I’ll give you specific story ideas you can use. If you like my suggestions, run with it. No further obligation. Or I can support you on an hourly, project or total outsource basis.
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