Storytelling: How to Craft Captivating Content

November 27, 2017 Sarah O'Brien

Storytelling: How to Craft Captivating Content

Storytelling is an escape of the mind. It offers us the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of another. It’s a vehicle through which influence can be asserted, mountains climbed and dragons slain. Tales of adversity and triumph stay with us, shaping our expectations of the world. We’re David, facing off against the Philistine giant Goliath in the heat of afternoon sun. Armed with little more than a shepherd’s staff, a sling shot and a little bag of stones, we step into the battle arena and confront our foe. Facing our Goliath requires courage and unwavering trust in ourselves.

A master storyteller knows how to hook readers with emotive content. Click To Tweet

We take our little slingshot and wait as the giant lumbers towards us, his mighty sword glistening with the blood of a thousand Israelites. A bead of sweat trickles down our brow, and yet we wait. Just as Goliath swings his sword, we take a stone from our pouch, load up our slingshot and aim. Fire! Thud! Our slingshot has found a chink in the giant’s armour. We grab the giant’s mighty sword, pirouette and bring it crashing down upon his head. Goliath is no more.

David and Goliath as the Archetypal ‘Overcoming the Monster’ Hero’s Journey

David’s triumph against the mighty Goliath resonates because people choose to believe that ultimately, we can overcome our limitations. We champion the underdog because we can see ourselves in him. We will him to succeed against all the odds, because through him, we too can succeed.

Malcom Gladwell’s fascinating book ‘David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants’ expands upon this, taking it to new heights, heights which suggest we’ve all profoundly misunderstood the situation.

For Gladwell, the balance of power needs to be re-examined. David didn’t meet Goliath on the expected terms, laden with heavy armour and a wieldy sword, instead David redefined the terms of the fight, choosing to play to his own strengths. In doing so, another tool in a storyteller’s arsenal is invoked. Hamartia-a fatal flaw leading to a character’s demise.

David’s perceived limitations causes the Philistines to dismiss him. His chances of winning are deemed dim at best. David is cast as the underdog- short in stature but brave of heart. Goliath is his adversary, an obstacle that needs to be overcome. The juxtaposition between our unlikely hero and his fearsome opponent strikes fear into the heart of the reader. What if David doesn’t defeat his foe? What happens if he fails? And so, opposition and danger are seamlessly woven into our tale.

Master Storytelling: Weaponize the Power of Emotion

The woes of the Israelites become real to us, contextualized by our newfound connection to David, our protagonist. The reader becomes invested in the plot and in David’s well-being. Now that the story setting, source of conflict and tension, and plot are established, it’s crucial our story arcs and builds to a climax. In this instance, David and Goliath face-off in the blistering heat of the afternoon sun. Our protagonist carries out a morally significant action-protecting his people from the lumbering giant, Goliath and his Philistine brethren.

Storytelling is an escape of the mind. It offers us the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of another. It’s a vehicle through which influence can be asserted, mountains climbed and dragons slain. Click To Tweet

Upon witnessing the slaying of their kin, the other Philistines turn tail and run for the hills, vowing to never attack the Israelites again. Justice is done and the balance of good and evil has once again been restored. David’s unlikely triumph provides the reader with a sense of cathartic relief. Commonly cited in Aristotle’s Poetics, catharsis is understood to be a release or purging of negative emotions.

Master storytellers weaponize emotion. Think about how you feel when a Machiavellian character is finally exposed as a liar, or when the Seabiscuits of this world win the Grand National after their owners are told they’d never race again. Catharsis makes content memorable. The feelings and emotions familiar story plots evoke, release powerful brain chemicals. For example, stress releases cortisol and empathy releases dopamine. The story of David and Goliath is the archetypal ‘overcoming the monster’ hero’s journey, and it’s one that resonates with people.

Good Storytelling is Good the World Over

If you want to create captivating content your primary goal should be to evoke emotion. A great storyteller knows how to hook readers with emotive content. Bring your readers on a journey with you: place obstacles in front of your characters-contrived or otherwise, obstacles help further character development-give your protagonist or antagonist a fatal flaw, and always give your readers a sense of closure. Catharsis is a powerful weapon and negating to utilize it can destroy an otherwise beautifully crafted story.

We champion the underdog because we can see ourselves in him. We will him to succeed against all the odds, because through him, we too can succeed. Click To Tweet

Good storytelling is good storytelling the world over. It doesn’t matter of you’re creating a business proposal, writing a LinkedIn blog or a job description. Make each and ever word count by creating an emotional hook that will make your content memorable. Ditch the PowerPoint presentations (sorry Microsoft!), create a captivating headline, add a keyword-friendly subhead if you like, use eye-catching images, infographics or videos where relevant and don’t ever be afraid to let your personality shine through. We can all learn a lot from the story of David and his Goliath.

BlueChief is a social media and brand management company that specialises in video production, design and advertising. In need of some digital marketing or social media strategy advice? Contact BlueChief CEO, Shane McCarthy at (086) 466 5014 or email shane@bluechief.ie.

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Sarah O'Brien

Sarah is a digital marketing creative with a passion for storytelling and design. She believes in creating a space for authentic content to flourish and in nurturing the emotional attachment people have to their favourite brands. Sarah understands the psychology behind emotional branding and how brands can best utilize it to cement their status as household names. With a background in Journalism, Sarah has a keen interest in current affairs programming and international politics, particularly where the state of American polity is concerned. Fun Fact: Sarah is obsessed with cryptozoology (Yes, she knows the Loch Ness monster isn’t real!) and in her spare time likes to watch mockumentaries about Nessie and Megalodon.

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