Nothing can match a good story. I don’t care how bad your results, how shaky your insights or how thin your findings. Spin a tale, capture the attention of those people around you and you will be fine. Don’t worry about being a presenter — be a good storyteller. Take everyone on a journey. So that’s why I love Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling. Take a look:
- You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
- You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be very different.
- Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
- Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
- Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
- What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
- Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
- Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
- When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
- Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
- Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
- Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
- Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
- Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
- If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
- What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
- No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.
- You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
- Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
- Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
- You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
- What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.
Once, there was a buzzword — in fact, there were many buzz words. Ad agencies love buzzwords, because clients love buzzwords. “Participation,” ‘Tipping Point”, “Behavioural Economics,” “Gameification” and, as of late, ”Pintrest.” I just came across “Transmedia.” Developed by Henry Jenkins, “Transmedia” is the idea that story-telling has changed as media has developed. I kind of like this thought. Our understanding of a good narrative has never really changed, but our expectations in how it is delivered has indeed changed drastically. Trans-media story-telling has been evident in many creative campaigns, including The Dark Night “Why so Serious?” game, which is a great example — or even Old Spice. Honestly, what it boils down to is an invitation rather than a recitation. Typically brands like to recite their values and benefits, but this is about allowing consumers to choose their own adventure themselves — even a direction that might not (God Forbid) be in your brand’s equity pyramid. Now, of course, like all buzzwords, this is not a new idea — but it is a way to sell an idea to clients. And then we can all live happily ever after…
I hate sudoku — and sitting next to people on airplanes doing sudoku (or is it “playing”?). Regardless, scientists love using puzzles to study what they call insight thinking, the leaps of understanding that seem to come out of nowhere. And this interests me. There’s a cool piece in the NYT that discusses the appeal of puzzle thinking — and how being in a good mood may help you solve tough issues without over thinking. Love this part: Puzzles are reassuringly soluble; but like any serious problem, they require more than mere intellect to crack…Isn’t that true about so many things?
Do you know your brain doesn’t know what it is doing most of the time? Well, of course not, because we’re talking about your brain, so how could you “know” this? This visual study guide by the Royal Society of Account Planning is very cool. We all have psychological tendencies that cause the human brain to draw incorrect conclusions. And when working as a cultural anthropologist, this is key to remember. It can be very difficult for people to describe their choices — that’s why observation and perceptual reorganization are so important…