Ira Glass (of This American Life) on storytelling.
A good story is told in two modes:
- The anecdote. One thing following another. Momentum. You feel you’re on a train that has a desgination. It’s raising questions, answering them along the way. Bait the audience. The implication is that any question you raise, you will answer.
- Moment of reflection: here’s why I’m wasting your time with all this.
A good story flips back and forth between the two.
Be ruthless in cutting the boring stuff. Go right to the stuff that grabs your heart.
Be willing to kill the story if it’s not working. Abandon crap.
Screenwriter Andrew Stanton at TED.
- There must be a promise that the story will be worth your time. Something must hook you.
- A well-organized absence of information draws us in. Make the audience put things together. Don’t give them 4, give them 2+2.
- “Drama is anticipation mingled with uncertainty.”
- All well-drawn characters have “an itch they can’t scratch.” What drives them?
- The best stories invoke wonder.
And finally, here’s a pretty good story told by Moran Cerf at the Moth Story GrandSlam.
Gavin McMahon does a good job of explaining why this is such a great story in his blog post “7 lessons presenters can learn from storytellers”. Briefly:
- Start with a perfect hook.
- Make it personal and authentic
- Use a solid structure.
- Tell us about people.
- Make sure you can relate.
- Tipping points and unexpected moments.
- A payoff that works for you.