Using Story Structure in your content

Published by Algorithmic Global on

Hero of the story

Everyone wants to be the hero in their own story. Facedown the enemy, rise from the ashes and succeed against all odds.

Guess what? You, fellow writer/blogger/marketer, are the hero of this tale.

The deadline looms. Your subject matter has been chosen. But for some reason, the words won’t come.

Sound familiar?

You want to write quality content that resonates, that people will read, share and engage with.

But that pesky blank page. It stares back at you, stark white as an untouched field of snow. Be careful: Metaphors won’t save you! This post needs to get written.

What do you do?

TELL A STORY. It’s easy, once you know the steps.

There are seven steps (I didn’t come up with this. This is courtesy of John Truby, as described in his book The Anatomy of Story):

  1. Problem/Need
  2. Desire
  3. Opponent
  4. Plan
  5. Battle
  6. Self-Revelation
  7. New Equilibrium

This story structure is everywhere, once you know where to look. Looking at Disney’s “Coco”:

  • Problem: Miguel isn’t allowed to play music
  • Desire: Miguel wants to be a guitar player
  • Opponent: His family’s expectations. Music is disallowed after the grandfather ran away to be a musician.
  • Plan: Enter into and win a music contest. (this step becomes magnified and made more important once he enters into the land of the dead)
  • Battle (x2): First, Miguel has to fight to get his grandfather’s blessing. Then, after the plot twist, he wants to clear his grandfather’s name
  • Self-Revelation: His family realizes they were wrong about music
  • New Equilibrium: Miguel’s family house is now full of music 

Let me run through this with you, based on this post. It’s going to get meta, so bear with me.

  • Problem: you don’t know what to write
  • Desire: you want to create quality content
  • Opponent: the blank page
  • Plan: tell a story!

As for the rest, let’s see if you can tell for yourself which sections align with steps 5-8.

When it comes to figuring out how to create the content that belongs in each step of the story structure, you need to determine who the story is for. For example, in this post, I was talking to fellow writers. Maybe if this was a personal blog I would have chosen to use myself as the “hero” of the story.

It helps if you think of one particular person when coming up with the content that belongs in each of the seven steps. It could be a client, friend, colleague… fill in the steps using them as the hero. Even if you don’t write the post to them specifically it will help you come up with the steps you need to hit along the way. 

Try out this method the next time you’re stuck staring at a blank page! In future posts, I’ll go through each section piece by piece and elaborate on different ways to attack each one.

(For those who are curious: the battle is choosing the right audience, the self-revelation is that you already have someone in mind, the new equilibrium is that you now have a new way to approach the blank page)

Categories: Copywriting

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How to provide value for your readers - Algorithmic Global · May 1, 2020 at 10:09 am

[…] If you have no idea what I’m talking about, take a moment to check out this article on using story structure to create your […]

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