3 Storytelling Frameworks I Am Using To Transform My Content Writing

And how you can incorporate them into your next piece

Photo by Mike Erskine on Unsplash

Hope, inspiration, nostalgia, regret. Stories can transport you to a moment long lost in time or the one that is yet to come.

Stories have the power to change and transform. They are the drivers of emotions, cultural sensitivity, and knowledge.

They inspire (The little prince), they can move you to tears (Disney’s Up) and they can keep you entertained for days (Harry Potter Marathon)

Sure, they entertain and educate, but most importantly, they comfort us. We watch and re-watch movies, and read and re-read books even though we already know the plot, the reveal, and the conclusion.

Why? Because good stories are powerful.

While AI can take over your content creation, it can’t possibly replicate the human experience.

Recently, Coursera listed storytelling as the top fastest-growing human skill in 2023. Although often overlooked, storytelling will likely continue to top the charts as the most sought-after skill in the future as well.

Think about it, while AI can take over your content creation, it can’t possibly replicate the human experience. Your unique perspective and cultural interaction will stay unique and novel regardless of whether you are retelling the mundane day-to-day event or imagining a Sci-fi thriller.

So how exactly do you incorporate them into your content?

Storytelling 101: Behind the Scenes of Good Content

With my recently renewed interest in the art of storytelling, I have been looking at content with an eye of an analyst and have come to the conclusion that your ability to weave something mundane and ordinary into a story is what makes your content unique and readable.

In simple terms, any story can be broken down into 3 elements. The hook, the emotion, and finally the CTA.

Tony Robbins, the world’s leading life and business strategist and personal and professional development coach has this section on his home page.

Reference: https://www.tonyrobbins.com/

The main message is emotion and change driven. Only when you land on his about page are you faced with some figures, and boy, there are many of them.

Even though statistics give authority to the claim, leading with a story makes the most impact with instant emotional connection.

Let’s break down the message.

The formula for this kind of story-driven messaging is simple:

  1. Hook. Start with a question, a challenge, or a goal. Something the reader wants or can see themselves achieving.
  2. Engage. Share the struggle or build a narrative around the solution.
  3. Call to Action. The final takeaway.

The formula (hook → engage → CTA) allows readers to go from ‘what is’ to ‘what could be.’

Your ability to weave something mundane and ordinary into a story is what makes your content unique and readable.

3 Storytelling Frameworks In Action

There are many storytelling frameworks you can use, however, these 3 are my favorite and most often used.

1. The Hero’s Journey

You might be familiar with this one.

One of the most common storytelling techniques is the hero’s journey where the hero sets out to achieve a goal → faces some challenges → overcomes them → and then finally achieves the goal.

This story structure works well because people like familiarity and stories that follow the familiar hero’s journey follow the familiar narrative structure.

Think, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Alchemist, and The Hunger Games.

All these classical pieces of literature follow the hero’s journey.

Made by the author (canva.com)

A great story crafts a narrative that follows a similar arc — and ends with a resolution (or solution).

Framework in Action

  • The Departure: Start with the need/desire for the change (life before the journey)
  • The Initiation: Demonstrate how making the leap will change their life (overcoming challenges)
  • The Return: Help them visualize how the change with improve their life (the reward)

When we are telling a story, we are essentially speaking our truth.

You can do it with statistics or you can choose to tell a story. I suggest going with a story.

How to Use This

  • Your personal story

Use this framework to tell the before and after story. How it all started, what led you to it, how you overcame the struggle, and where you are now.

  • Your Brand’s or client’s story

Use the hero’s journey to showcase the idea, the struggles, and the end result (solution).

2. Simon Sinek‘s Golden Circle

Simon Sinek, the author of Start with Why has popularized this concept of the Golden circle.

According to Sinek, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” He proposes that the problem with the stories most people tell is that they start with the “what” they do, rather than “why” they do it.

This approach leaves little room for storytelling and emotions because when you open the stage with what you do, there is no emotional connection, but when you start the conversation with why you do it, the connection is human, immediate, and emotional.

One of the best examples of this is the branding behind industry giants like Nike, Apple, and even tesla.

  • Apple leads the conversation with “Think different” rather than just selling computers.
  • Tesla does it with their mission to accelerate the world’s transition towards sustainable electric vehicles.
  • Spotify’s mission is to “unlock the potential of human creativity” as opposed to being the world’s biggest music streaming service.
Made by the Author (canva.com)

Framework in Action

  • The why: Begin telling the story with “why” you do what you do
  • The how: The methods and the processes you are using to achieve what
  • The what: And lastly, tell what you do.

How to Use This

  • Your personal story

Use the Golden circle framework to tell your personal story of how you came to the decision of following a certain career path.

  • Your brand or client’s story

This framework is most often utilized while writing a story-driven About us page. Start with the big idea, the process, and the end result (solution).

  • Your newsletter and emails

Email and newsletters offer you the opportunity to have a one-on-one conversation with your audience. Let emotions and stories take the front-wheel to drive connection.

3. The Pixar Fairytail Technique

Who knows how to tell stories better than Pixar?

Studio Ghibli is a strong rival but when it comes to simple storytelling, Pixar takes the cake.

Pixar has the story framework down that allows them to tell stories in a classically simple manner, yet somehow, they tug at every heartstring known to man.

The Pixar fairytale technique also known as story spine, goes like this:

  • Once upon a time…
  • Everyday…
  • Until one day…
  • Because of that,… X happened
  • Because of that,… Y happened
  • Because of that,… Z happened
  • This happened a few more times.
  • Until finally…
  • And every day after that.

Some things that set this framework apart are the character’s or protagonists’ emotional arc along with their journey to their final goal.

The protagonist is transformed emotionally and the story showcases their journey toward this transformation.

See this framework in action in Linkedin posts, and twitter threads. Keep a lookout for any post that begins with, “once upon a time… 5 years ago,..”

Made by the author (canva.com)

Framework in Action

  • Once upon a time… x years ago
  • every day… this is what life looked like…
  • and because of that… you felt an emotion (dissatisfied, curious, envious, etc.)
  • but then, one day… a trigger event happens (decision to change, a catalyst, etc.)
  • because of that,… you make a change, a solution appears, or you take an action.
  • because of that,… this is what life looks like
  • and, now finally, …
  • happily ever after.

How to Use This

  • Testimonials

Similar to Hero’s journey, Pixar’s storytelling technique works well for telling a story where a person achieved personal or professional success. Use this technique to showcase the positive results of coaching, or a course.

  • Case studies

Use this framework when telling a personal or business transformation story.

  • Your personal story

Pixar storytelling framework works well when telling your personal transformation story of triumph, overcoming a hurdle, or simple transformation into a better self.

Linkedin is filled with content that follows this framework. Keep a lookout for any post that begins with, Once upon a time… 5 years ago,.. and you will see it in action.

It works because it simply does.

Storytelling is the Future of Content Creation

Stories are not about going from one point to the other, they are about the journey we undertake along with the characters and some journeys you want to undertake again and again.

In the arms of a good story, you can envision yourself achieving anything, and overcoming any barrier because anything is possible.

Storytelling is the future of content. Use these story frameworks in your blog, marketing content, LinkedIn posts, and Twitter posts to make it dynamic, engaging, and most importantly, interesting.

3 Storytelling Frameworks I am Using to Transform my Content Writing was originally published in The Writing Cooperative on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Author: Nimra Khalid