Whether you’re reading a book or writing one. Whether you’re watching a movie, a commercial, or viewing a magazine; you are experiencing Story.
I’ve been studying Story for the past 8 years now. How to build them, interpret them, transfer them, capture and retell them, and how to assess their potential emotional impact on an audience. I’m still not very good at any of those things…but I have seen and told a tale or two.
The past couple of weeks I’ve been reading the Old Testament in large chunks. No, it’s not because I’m spiritual. It’s because I’m playing catch-up on all the semester end projects I should have been working on since October.(It’s amazing what procrastination can do for your time in the Bible when you’re in seminary.)
Anyway, reading it in large sections give you a great bird’s-eye view of the major themes and movements. Usually when you read the Bible, you get bogged down in the details. You can’t see the forest for the trees… You can’t see the point for the facts.
In the middle of all this reading, I had an epiphany about Story. From a TV ad to a feature news story, to a travel magazine article, to the “greatest story ever told,” I’m seeing a simple pattern in the little stories that make up Story. It’s kind of a meta script for how good stories are put together in a way that keeps us interested, engages emotions and provokes response.
Others have already seen this pattern, this meta script for assembling good stories I’m sure…but I’m calling it:
Anatomy of Story
1. A hope is held.
2. A problem interferes.
3. The problem deepens.
4. The hope is revived.
5. The hope is realized.
Try putting the stories you come across through this filter. Does it work? Think about it in relation to the story of Christ and Christmas…
Ok…now I have to stop procrastinating and get back to my reading…