Last summer, I attended a 6-week storytelling workshop at Google. It started as a fun social experiment and turned into a powerful awakening that got me to write my love story for the first time. Today I want to share the storytelling principles and tips to get you started on your own narrative.
What is storytelling?
Just like writing, storytelling is a vehicle to share your unique human experience with the world.
Each story is a unit of exploration. As you piece each story together, you can develop a greater unit that manifests your inner dialogue and lead you to figure out who you are. Thus, I believe that the best way to change people’s minds is to change the story they tell themselves.
1) Start with your obsessions
Do this experiment: Start noticing what caught your attention and document your joy and curiosity in life. Look out for the disconnections, your unique triggers, and the wild sparks. After a week or so, you would have a repertoire of ideas to play with.
2) Know that story is a circle
Just like a circle, you can start anywhere (for example, the height) as long as you come back to full circle. Don’t default to chronological order.
3) Write down your three sentences
- The first sentence should intrigue the readers by building suspense and include the details to convey as much information as possible.
- The change sentence should signal the story’s one big change. This is often related to your relationship with the challenge that is yet to be overcome.
- The last sentence should end with a period or punctuation. You don’t have to explicitly spell out the connections — it’s totally fine to let the audience interpret and sit with it. That said, you should not end the story with an open question and rely on the audience to make sense of it. Just like improv, good delivery is a definite act.
Once you get these three sentences in place, you are halfway there.
Write your own story
Step 1: Figure out what the story is about.
For example, I wanted to write about how my search for happiness in life.
Step 2: Figure out what happened with the narrative arch.
This is where you use the three-sentence technique. Here are my three sentences:
- First sentence: I believe in optimizing my life.
- Change sentence: That (first date) was the first time I lost track of time.
- Last sentence: I renewed my definition of happiness and began to embrace this beauty of the unknown.
This is to reiterate the fact that Chris has changed me fundamentally. 🤣
I hope this helps! Let me know if you have any story-related questions in the comment below.