Structure of stories: Every great story will follow a predictable pattern. The five elements to any great story.

5 Crucial Elements To Any Good Story

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Recently, we were able to hear from Matthew Luhn, a former member of Pixar Studio and a key cartoonist for the Toy Story Movie. He was speaking in Tulsa, Oklahoma as part of the Seeds Conference.

He focused on teaching the timeless elements to any great story. What stood out to us was how simple – even predictable – they were.

Structure of stories: Every great story will follow a predictable pattern. The five elements to any great story.

Exposition This is the character development phase of any story. In Star Wars terms, this is our first glimpse into the dull life of Luke Skywalker on the farm with his Aunt and Uncle. The hero is often brought into the story at this point.

Inciting Incident There’s often a point in a great story where an event happens that changes everything for the hero – some directors, script writers and actors will even tell you that it happens on the 12th minute exactly in any film. This could be a disaster, a breakup, a spider bite (Spider-Man), or as with Luke Skywalker, the death of an Aunt and Uncle at the hands of the Imperial Army.

Progressive Complications Unfolding from the inciting incident, an element to any great story is the increasing confusion or challenge that brings the hero’s abilities, superpowers, integrity, endurance, etc. into question. Is it possible to become a Jedi and defeat Darth Vader and the power of the Death Star? The odds seemed stacked against our hero.

Climax The sum total of the conflict finally occurs. The tension, the grapple, the struggle, whatever it may be, comes into full fruition and our hero emerges as a changed person. The hero’s journey reaches its sum total.

Resolution “…and they lived happily ever after.” Now, with the recipe finished, the proverbial cookies are ready to come out of the oven, peace will rule the galaxy, and the story ends in a redemptive way.

Predictable? Yes, we know. But, this is the basic structure of every enduring story. Learning to use it in your business will help you grow your engagement with fans. How?

Any brand fanatic can tell a story supporting why they became, or remain, a fanatic. A personal example of this for me is the Air Jordan Basketball Shoe. When I first saw the commercial of Michael Jordan flying through the air with the sound of an airplane taking off in the background, I needed those shoes. Here’s how the story was unfolding in my head…

Exposition I am a normal kid who can’t dunk the ball, or jump over my bed, or do anything cool.

Inciting Incident The bully at my school said I was a dork.

Progressive Complications The more I play basketball, the more I realize, I am very much a dork, and still can’t dunk the ball.

Climax I purchase a pair of Air Jordan’s and perform a roundhouse -360-dunk over the bully at school.

Resolution I become popular and the bully stops calling me a dork.

The truth is Nike did a brilliant job creating brand fanatics. Using Michael Jordan’s stellar basketball image, they were able to create loyalty with their brand. The story propelled them. Michael Jordan’s jumping ability might not come to those who where the shoe, but the story makes you feel a part of Jordan’s greatness.

How can your brand portray the same feelings among potential fans? Create storyboards for the things you do best. Organize your marketing and customer service agendas around the things that make your brand interesting. Then, create the story for users to engage.

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