5 Elements that Will Improve Your StoryTelling Overnight

Storytelling isn't just a talent, it's a craft. There are rules to follow if you want to become a master. Here are 5 elements that when used correctly, will take your storytelling to a whole new level.

  1. Origin

  2. Intention

  3. Conflict

  4. Transformation

  5. Message that matters


Providing an origin for your story helps the listener or reader instantly connect with you. When you strip away all of the layers and get to the rawest part of your humanity, that is what people will connect with.

The extent in which people will resonate with your story is based on how vulnerable the origin is.

If you want to uncover a more powerful origin, ask yourself: What can I strip away in order to get to a deeper, more raw place of my humanity? That is where your origin lies.

2. Intention

What are the stakes of your story? The more life and death they are, the more your audience will be stuck in their chair needing to know how the story ends.

For Alex Banayan, the intention of his story told in The Third Door really isn't focused on a kid interviewing Bill Gates, but rather a kid who is lost, who has turned his back on his family's sacrifices, and is searching for his own answers.

If you want better intention in your story, ask yourself: How can I raise the stakes to make this more life and death?

3. Conflict

If intention is what glues the viewer to their seats, conflict is what brings them to the edge of their seat. Origin and intention set the story up, while conflict is the meat of the story.

The more well laid out your intention is, the better your conflicts will stick. And let's be real, conflicts are what make any story intriguing.

Remember: the transformation of a character directly relies on the quality of the conflicts.

4. Transformation

A story doesn't feel complete until you have a full transformation. Transformations typically cause the most important thing at the beginning of the story to become the least important, and vice versa.

When you want a more meaningful transformation, ask yourself: How can I make the transformation more stark?

5. Message that matters

The stories that prevail are the ones that have a message that matter to us. If the message touches our heart and speaks to our soul, then we will carry it with us and share it with the people we love. Find a message that matters to your audience.

If you want to have a more meaningful message in your story, ask yourself: How can I make the message larger than the story and matter to the listener?

"At the end of the day, storytelling is the single most important skill you can cultivate. The stories you tell yourself not only shape your understanding of where you come from, but they also determine where you are going next." - Alex Banayan

Bonus Insights

Incorporate these three concepts from Aristotle’s Poetics into your stories and you are bound to have engaged readers wanting more.

1. Include fear and pity

  • While reading, your audience needs to think "Oh no! How is he going to get himself out of this?"

  • There needs to be some sense of fear in your story. The main character has to be in danger at some point so that the reader wants to find out more.

2. Make it actual and probable

  • The reader needs to feel like the story is something that naturally could have happened. Even with plot twists, there has to be some connection.

  • If something happened in real life that really seems unlikely, acknowledge that as the storyteller so that the reader can trust you moving forward.

3. Prioritize plot over spectacle

  • The 3 most important elements of a story, in this order are: plot, characters, spectacle

  • You can think of these three elements like cake, frosting, and sprinkles. They are all important, but each have different roles.

How do you present conflicts without making yourself seem like a victim?

Conflicts should lead to an ultimate destination of transformation so that there is a message that matters and it doesn't just sound like you are complaining.

If you cried every day during the experience you are writing about, only bring it up in the book one or two times. You can say what challenges you experienced, but you don't need to share how you felt about each one.

Drop the bomb and then move on. If it's dark, your audience will know how you feel. Give the reader space to feel their own emotion.

This post is in relation to Alex Banayan's Third Door Mentor Sessions.

Topic for Wednesday 6/24: Public Speaking

You can find posts on past mentor sessions, as well as sign up to get weekly recaps here.

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