WOM is good storytelling: how to create a narrative
Jill Polack, the director of Chicago’s StoryStudio, visited Zócalo Group the other week for a creative writing workshop, and to remind us how the basics of narrative can help us tell compelling stories on behalf of our clients. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the true foundation of word of mouth is having a good story to tell.
Here are some of the things that stuck with me most from the session:
- “in medias res” – this Latin phrase means “into the middle of things” and it prompts you to begin your narrative in the middle of the moment, instead of building up from the beginning. This about how much more attention-grabbing a story can be when begun from a key moment within the action or even at the conclusion.
- Each action should have a consequence.
- Story elements. When you’re writing a story, remember this menu of elements you can include: emotion, expectations, surprises, tension/conflict, dialogue, POV/voice, characters, plot/events, setting
- Tension. If you’re looking to build tension consider one of these two techniques: action or details. Action is pretty self-explanatory, but in terms of details, just think of how horror movies build tension by slowing down key scenes and focusing on very specific details
- Make the reader ask questions. Your narrative should spark questions. Story elements create questions. Details create an image in a reader’s mind which can lead to more questions. These are hooks to get a reader engaged with your content.
- Dénouement - this French word literally means “the untying of a knot,” but in literary terms, it represents the resolution of a plot at the conclusion of a narrative
Next time you’re thinking of ways to drive word of mouth around a client or brand, think about how you can build a narrative around your campaign.