Did you know that you have the power to make your loved ones and enemies listen and hang onto your every word?
We all do.
It may take some practice but it is so worth the effort to learn how to tell a story others will connect with. The good news is every time you have the opportunity to interact with someone, you can practice.
Think about it.
That pesky strategy meeting with the boss? A prime opportunity to practice the golden story structure I will share with you. Even a call to your internet service provider who’ve been dropping the ball so your internet drops like dead flies — that’s a golden opportunity.
In the next three minutes of reading, I will break down the secrets of timeless classics like “The Wizard of Oz”, “The Matrix” and “Star Wars”.
I promise it will pay dividends in how much further you will go in your relationships. It’s all in applying the age old power of the classic hero’s journey structure to your communications.
The skinny on Hero’s Journey is that it’s the way our brains process and store information. Beginning with creation myths across all cultures, Holy Books, Hollywood movies, and even the biographies of famous entrepreneurs and business people, this structure forms the bare bones.
Because expert story tellers tell it that way to connect with their audience. It was first identified by Joseph Campbell, a religious academic (who stayed well within the dogma of religion and academics), whose books inspired the Star Wars series.
Though Robert McKee, another authority on story, (who’s steered clear of both religion and academia as they are hierarchies) vehemently denies that the Hero’s Journey is at the base of everything we identify with and internalise, I see strong evidence from having analysed a few films and biographies that one can wrap all stories around this framework (you have to get more creative with some than others).
Let’s look at the part of the Hero’s Journey.
- Ordinary World — This is where Dorothy, Neo and Luke start off. Dorothy is a bored farm girl whose dog is threatened by the witchlike neighbour. Neo is a bored programmer sitting in his lifesucking cubicle and Luke, a bored farm boy who senses there’s something wrong with the world.
- Call to Adventure — Dorothy doesn’t really receive a call, the poor girl. She flees with her dog and the hurricane snatches her and dumps her into a technicolour fantasy. Neo receives a very literal phone call while he’s working away after his run in with the White Rabbit tattoo girl and Luke finds Princess Leia’s message which literally calls him to adventure.
- Refusal of the Call — Dorothy is whisked away qand left with no choice, meanwhile Neo refuses the call and all hell breaks loose in his office and Luke’s family is killed by Storm Troopers. The lesson? Never refuse a call. It’s an invitation for bad stuff to happen.
- Meeting the Mentor — Dorothy meets Glinda, that duplicitious so-called good witch who puts her on the Yellow Brick Road (when in fact she had the magical Ruby Slippers all along to return home). Luke meets Obi Wan Kenobi and Neo meets Morpheus on a stormy evening.
- Crossing the Threshold — Dorothy begins her journey on the Yellow Brick Road. Neo leaves the Matrix and Luke leaves the farm.
- Tests, Allies, Enemies — Dorothy meets the Scarecrow, Lion and Tin man. Neo meets Trinity and others on the spacecraft Nebuchadnezzar. Luke meets Han Solo and Chewbacca.
- Innermost Cave — Dorothy hits a low in the opium fields, indulging in heroin (?). Neo meets the Oracle who tells him he might not be the one and Luke is stuck in the collapsing trash room.
- Ordeal — Dorothy and her friends are attacked by the Flying Monkeys in the scary forest of the Evil Witch. Neo goes back into the Matrix to save Morpheus, is able to dodge bullets like there’s no tomorrow and kills all the guards. Luke is attacked by Storm Troopers.
- Reward (Seizing the Sword) — Dorothy kills the witch by splashing water on her and seizes her broom. Neo rescues Morpheus but Cypher betrays him and has to fight Agent Smith with no back-up. Luke saves the Princess.
- The Road Back — Dorothy and her friends reveal the Wizard of Oz to be a con man, who regardless gives them everything they’re looking for and arranges a balloon to fly them back home. Neo is killed by Agent Smith. Luke is face to face with Darth Vader who reveals the big secret and cuts off Luke’s arm hurling him to death.
- Resurrection — Dorothy’s balloon crashes but Glinda reveals her Ruby Shoes are magic and can take her back home. Neo is given the kiss of true love by Trinity and is literally resurrected. Luke survives and destroys the Death Star.
- Return with the Elixir — Dorothy wakes up in her farm and now she’s got a better outlook on her life and a new appreciation for everyone around her. Neo is back in The Matrix, a master of it. Luke returns home a hero.
Now that you’ve got the building blocks of a good story, think of ways you can use it to get others to take action which will make them feel like heroes. You can offer them a call to adventure to appeal to their adventurous spirit or show them what will happen if they don’t act.
Go ahead, give it a go.
I can’t wait to hear your story and how you’re using it to involve stakeholders, friends, family and anyone in a position to make things better for you and for themselves.
You can e-mail me, Eda@writepublishgrow.com if you’d like a pair of eyes on it.
A word of warning: There might be a temptation to use it for selfish motives. However, know that it won’t work when it’s not coming from a place of wanting to connect with your audience.