Stories are an intrinsic part of humanity; they have not only been with us throughout our history but may also be the very reason for our existence. The theory that our evolution into Homo Sapiens was based upon our ability to tell stories was coined by Yuval Noah Harari in ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’. Many believe that our ability to create and believe in stories is what set us apart from Homo Habilis and all the other iterations of humankind at the time.
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Initially, stories were used to record information to be passed down to younger generations as far back as 45,500 years ago, the oldest recorded cave painting found in Indonesia. Yet as we evolved into Homo Sapiens, so did our capability of telling tales, we were able to both store and manipulate information to infuse our beliefs into the facts, which created far more compelling stories. This was both the birth of the creative process as well as the beginning of societal evolution.
You may be wondering what ancient cave paintings have to do with the stories you want to tell today. Our interest in stories has shifted towards focusing upon infusing facts into beliefs but keep in mind that the facts are still crucial, the factual basis for any story is the bedrock upon which it is built. The first step to bringing an idea to life is extensive research, everyone has different views, make sure your story brings your views to light while including other perspectives but make sure to back this information up.
After identifying your audience, thorough research into varying views is imperative to truly understand both what they love and what they hate. The next step is to form a rationale, which works as an overall observation that has a high level of insight behind it, based on this research. The final step is tying together all of your research and your rationale with your idea into a finalised product that not only moves your audience but also has global scalability.
While your short term goal is to appeal to your audience, in the long term, you need them to remember you. You cannot simply appease them by reinforcing their views, you need to challenge your audience to question their belief systems, provoking introspection and growth. We have selectively strong memories for emotionally arousing events, forgetting the vast majority of the duller aspects of life. Our nature, combined with the abundance of information in the world, further stresses the urgency to be remembered in the content creation business.
In a world of constant change, timing is everything. Sometimes you will find that you have all the ingredients, the research, the rationale and the idea fully fleshed out but the story is still not effective due to the timing. Using existing trends to connect better with your audience is an effective, yet risky, method depending on the trend. There are a variety of trends; fads, micro-trends, macro trends and megatrends. Trends tend to come and go with the tide, with the exception of the rare few that stick around for decades. Using a recent trend can be an effective method in reaching your audience as long as your story is told before it fizzles out, yet while these types of stories may reach audiences today, but they will be forgotten by the audiences of the future.
While time changes our society, our love for stories remains eternal. Stories have been and always will be told through a plethora of methods, from campfire stories in caves to social media posts. These tips are helpful for all types of stories, from every medium and apply to every type of storyteller. Whether your storytelling extends solely to social media posts or whether you are an accomplished vocational storyteller, structuring your storytelling in this manner will prove to be emphatically beneficial in both conveying your views, as well as truly provoking the audience into reassessing their own.