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Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Some experts have identified five key elements in effective storytelling.

Whether it's a novel, a movie script, part of a sales presentation or a public-speaking engagement, all well-told stories share specific elements that help make them compelling to the target audience. While numerous details must come together in effective storytelling, experts suggest there are five key elements of storytelling.
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How to Tell Stories
Keys to Storytelling

In their book "The Elements of Persuasion: Use Storytelling to Pitch Better, Sell Faster and Win More Business," authors Richard Maxwell and Robert Dickman outline five elements of storytelling. According to the authors, a story is "a fact wrapped in an emotion that compels us to take an action that transforms our world." With this definition in mind, they identify five key elements: passion, protagonist, antagonist, awareness and transformation. The first element, passion, involves ensuring that the readers/listeners form enough of an emotional connection to the story that they care about what happens.
Anagonist and Protagonist

Every well-told story must have a hero, or protagonist, who overcomes the antagonist that opposes him. This is true in almost every work of fiction, whether it's a novel or a movie. The protagonist of "Star Wars," for example, is Luke Skywalker; Darth Vader serves as antagonist. An antagonist need not be a villain, however, or even a character; depending on the story, an antagonist could be a social situation such as lack of education or poverty that must be overcome in order for the protagonist to achieve his goals.
Awareness and Transformation

The final two elements are awareness and transformation. At a pivotal point in the story, the protagonist needs to experience an epiphany, what Oprah Winfrey calls an "aha moment." This revelatory experience will be a turning point in the story, causing the protagonist to undergo a fundamental change or take decisive action that changes the course of the plot. This will ultimately result in transformation that will cause the protagonist's situation to be significantly different than it was at the beginning of the story.
Another View

In her online article "The Elements of Good Storytelling," Kimberly Appelcline outlines five different elements of effective storytelling: setting, character, plot, back story and detail. According to Appelcline, these five elements are necessary in any good story, and are the "five main tools of the storyteller's trade." Each of these five elements is comprised of several steps the storyteller must take. For example, the plot should begin with a set-up of the story, followed by a build-up of plot details and conclude with a pay-off in which the storyline is resolved.

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