On Storytelling

Storytelling is an art that has evolved over thousands of years. Main characters have ups and downs to shape a story. Vivid images are painted in words. 

The human brain processes images 60x faster than words. the brain releases dopamine when there are emotional stories. Neural coupling activates our brain to give our own meaning to stories. Knowing this, you need quality content and a compelling story!

Timeline of Storytelling

The origin of storytelling goes back to prehistoric times. Cavemen told each other stories orally, and through sign language or rock drawings, for mystical rituals or before hunting. In ancient Egypt, storytelling was used for communications, entertainment, and religious purposes. The Greeks used their stories to explain natural occurrences in the form of myths. Home, the greatest of ancient Greek poets, created the Iliad and Odyssey, two epic poems that lie at the beginning of Western literature. 

In Asia, there's a long tradition of shadow plays using paper puppets dating back to 100 B.C. In the Middle Ages, troubadours provided the illiterate population and court with stories often accompanied by some music. They traveled from land to land, gathering news and learning the most celebrated stories from various regions. 

In the early 1500s, the printing press was invented, which changed storytelling profoundly. With this new invention, books were easy to reproduce and information became accessible to the masses. 

Although many people couldn't read during the Renaissance period, Shakespeare's legendary plays were a perfect solution for both the literate and illiterate. The eloquent words were understandable for people who could read and the body language and humorous sketches for those who couldn't. 

The Industrial Revolution brought us some storytelling machines that changed the way we make and perceive stories forever. With movies and radio, people could actually see or hear the story, which made it easier to process. After World War II came the golden age of television. Now people could enjoy watching stories at home. This was also a great opportunity for brands to tell their stories through commercials. Unfortunately, air time was very expensive and only a limited number of brands could tell stories on screen. 

Storytelling changed drastically with the introduction of the Internet. From this point on, everybody could tell their stories in different ways, using blog posts, YouTube videos or Websites. Creating content on the Inter is not only an effective way to reach people all over the world, it's also much cheaper than television. With the Internet everywhere and smartphones and tablets being an important part of our life, characters got the chance to step out of our books. This is when we saw characters appear in all kinds of media, from books to movie theaters, in video games or on social media all over the web.

Alternate Reality Games blur the borders between reality and fiction. A story can be told now by using a different medium for each part. In this way, you can read the beginning of a story on a poster, see a second part on YouTube and discuss the end on Facebook. You can even continue the adventures of your protagonist in a video game to make the experience more complete. 

Mobile devices are also a technique for storytelling. With Augmented Reality Storytelling, you can integrate the story in your real life or become a character yourself with Location Based Games, for instance walking through a city. Every place will give you more information about the game and the story behind it. 

The future of storytelling holds great promise for us to break down the borders between fiction and reality where we can become real characters interacting with our favorite superheroes.

In 2015, 100,500 digital words are consumed by the average U.S. citizens every day. To grab people's attention now you have to keep things short and sweet. You need great titles to grab attention. 92% of consumers want brands to make ads feel like a story. You must deliver content that is linear and expresses clear narrative.

  • Man in a Hole - main character gets into trouble then gets out of it again and ends up better off for the experience.
  • Boy Meets Girl - main character comes across something wonderful, gets it, loses it, then gets it back forever. 
  • From Bad to Worse - main character starts off poorly then gets continually worse with no hope for improvement.  
  • Which Way is Up? - the story has a lifelike ambiguity that keeps us from knowing if new developments are good or bad. 
  • Creation Story - in many cultures creation stories, humankind receives incremental gifts from a deity. First major staples like the Earth and the Sky, then smaller things like sparrows and cell phones. 
  • Old Testament - humankind receives incremental gifts from a deity, but is suddenly ousted from good standing in a tale of enormous proportions. 
  • New Testament - humankind receives incremental gifts from a deity, but is suddenly ousted from good standing, but then receives off the charts bliss. 
  • Cinderella - it was the similarity between the shapes of Cinderella and the New Testament that transformed storytelling in 1947.  
We need to also understand the science of storytelling to see why telling stories is so important. 

Story Structure

Structure of your story is extremely important. You need denouement and falling action.

TV Storytelling

Sit-coms have the fat guy with the hot wife, broken / forgot / misunderstood something, cunning plan, hi-jinx and Awww moment.

Reality shows might have a cranky British judge reviewing the cocky bottom 5% of society, sob stories, surprisingly talented ugly person, over-reactions and the launch of an unremarkable career.

Sports have a lot of shouting, commercials, a bit of the game, an overflow of analysis, more commercials and more shouting.

News has relevant info, a crazy story, gossip, dog story, and awkward banter.

Period dramas always seem to have British people, dinners, weddings, big hats, horses, tea, someone gets a letter, and there is an 8 month hiatus to wait until next season to hear what's in the letter.


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