Creative storytelling – why we’re afraid of those unexplained noises at night

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“Some of these things are true and some of them lies. But they are all good stories.” ― Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall

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With the passing of Halloween it has got us thinking a lot about ghost stories. How powerful is that image of a ghost or demon that lingers in the back of our minds? Put there in our youth by stories read under the blanket with a flashlight or around a shadowy camp fire.

 

As humans we are drawn to stories and the emotions they contain. This is because we are social creatures and we want to be able to relate to others. Good stories surprise us, they make us think, they make us feel. We cheer for the hero and have empathy  for characters.

We are scared of the ghosts. They stick in our minds and make us think.

That’s why at the c word we spend a lot of time telling folk “that it is all about the narrative”. Getting the content and construct right is paramount to any good story. There’s a difference between Casper and the Flying Dutchman.

Storytelling may seem like an old fashioned tool – because it is. However, creative  storytelling is being used more frequently by corporates, brands and individuals in order to be distinctive and competitive. Coming up with a compelling story is no easy task.

How often do we struggle with that question “so what do you do?”. That 30 second elevator pitch is so important. It needs to be clear, concise and creative. You need to provide something memorable and leave the audience wanting more.

The same can be said for corporate storytelling. While data is important, a story can help us remember ideas and concepts in a way that numbers and graphs cannot. Stories make ideas stick. When telling a longer story the adage “less is more” applies (especially in horror stories).

So where to begin? A story using Freytag’s Pyramid — a dramatic structure that can be traced back to Aristotle – can be incredibly effective. It was used in five acts by Shakespeare and in Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein”.

Even science tells us about the importance of emotion and the story. Stories provoke a strong neurological response according to Paul Zak’s great piece for the Harvard Business Review.

Life happens in the narrative we tell one another. Make sure you have a powerful one to share (hopefully it’s not too scary) but is one, that fires the imagination, is vivid and memorable.

Cheers from the c word

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