7 Clues to a Great Story (from Andrew Stanton’s TED talk)
- Know your punchline, your ending. Everything in your story is leading to one resolution.
- The number one rule of a good story is to make your audience care. All of these rules help to accomplish this.
- Make a promise. Promise the reader (or listener, or viewer, or whatever) that the story will be worth their time. This will propel you from the start to the end of the story.
- Hide the fact that your reader will have to do some of the work themselves. “Absence of information draws us in.” You will have to choose the order of events and what to include/exclude, but your audience connects to the story when they have to figure things out for themselves.
- It’s alright to nod to a grand design. In Lawrence of Arabia, Stanton points out a scene that directly asks the protagonist, “who are you?”. This is the theme of the whole film. Have a theme.
- If it possible, allow your audience to surrender to wonder. This is the secret sauce of the best stories.
- Focus on your personal strengths as you tell your story. Use what you know.