5 basic rules of storytelling

Did you know that there are very 5 basic rules of storytelling, among all the tips&tricks, articles and advices you can find? Read carefully and pay attention, cause you’re about to learn some magic 🙂

 

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All jokes aside, there are over 11 million search results on “Rules of storytelling” and it gets very confusing when you have to decide what to believe in and which advice to take. And if you don’t know where and how to start, I can almost promise you that this article can be very useful for your future storytelling and public speaking as well.

I recently had an opportunity to listen and learn from a very interesting guy who works for Automattic and knows quite a bit about presenting your story in a way that people will love, cherish and learn from.  His name is Luca Sartoni (be sure to check out his blog) and, as I told him too, I found his lecture about public speaking and storytelling very useful and informative, if only I found out about it the day before – when I had my own share of public speaking, I would have been much better 🙂

Anyway, I have had quite a number of lecturers and public speaking about numerous subjects, but I still have an issue with jitters, stage fright – call it what you like. I always fear that I would say something wrong or that I will forget my key points, or that no one will ask any questions.. You know what it’s like. And, after hearing Luca’s talk and those very basic, straight forward rules – it all made sense – right there and then. His explanations and examples made it clear to us how to make every story that we tell more appealing, more meaningful and more compelling. So, it was only natural for me to tell this story to you so that you too can benefit from it, as I did.

 

So, what are these 5 basic rules of storytelling?

 

Before I answer you on that question, let me ask you something that Luca himself have asked us: what is the best movie of all times?
….

Star Wars.

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And why?

Simply, Star Wars is the very example of storytelling itself and it has all of that 5 basic rules, which are:

 

1. Introduction that sets the stage
2. The bad guy
3. Solution
4. A hero
5. Call to action

 

Whatever you do, whatever your story and/or lecture is, these are the 5 basic rules and steps of every storytelling. By saying “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” and the opening crawl, Star Wars gave us the big picture of where the story is going to happen. Otherwise, it would be a very strange story and a movie about some disturbed family members and robots, right? By stating those first lines, our brain was able to comprehend everything that came in later. And, in my today’s story, that first rule is – can you guess where? The beginning of third paragraph.

The element of a bad guy. The bad guy is more important than a good guy. Why? Because, the only way to engage people is to show them pain, something that the people are fighting against – in Star Wars, the ultimate bad guy is, yes, Darth Vader; and in my article – jitters and stage frights.

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A solution – where you tell them that there is a way to avoid the pain, to solve the puzzle, beat the bad guy. We all know how it went in the movie; the solution here is sharing with you what I have learned from Luca’s lecture.

A hero in this article would be these 5 steps, there rules that can make of you great lecturer and storyteller, right?

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And, finally, call to action is the point where you need to tell the people exactly what to do after – and where I tell you to share this post, so that as many of people can see it and learn from it, just as you and I did.

 

Long story short: whether you are writing an article, blog post, or preparing a presentation, tell people what is their problem, show them the pain, then take it away and you will become a hero. And in the end, tell them what to do, guide them, because they will want to know that.

 

There are, of course, quite a lot of examples with these set of rules in it, many stories, movies, even cartoons are made by these guidelines. Can you think of any? Share your thoughts and do share this article.

 

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Luca held this lecture when he was in Belgrade, on the WordCamp Belgrade 2016 conference, where he was one of the key speakers. More about him and his work you can find here.

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Ivana Ćirković

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