Storytelling: the perfect blend between technique and emotion

Recently, I stumbled on a blog post written by Jeff Bulas, a major web influencer, getting to the core of what it takes to be a successful digital entrepreneur and achieving your goal as a writer. I was instantly hooked by this article. It is not only informative, it is at the same time a great lesson in storytelling.
Indeed, Bullas bases on his very personal story of fighting with asthma to provide an answer to the article’s main question: how to achieve your goal as a writer without giving up.
You might wonder what asthma has to do with writing. That is where Bullas cleverly crafts a powerful story.

A classic storytelling pattern

Jeff Bullas is embarking us on his life journey in using a classic story pattern.

The hero (the narrator ) is facing an obstacle and is stuck in a conflict.
>He has to find out a way to overcome a major challenge.
>Goes through a learning path.
Learns to turn negative into positive.
Thanks to his perseverance,
>he achieves success.

The narrator’s journey

In the first part of the story, Bullas is the narrator and main protagonist. Let us have a look into his journey:

Narrator journey

The narrator faces a problem:  he suffers from asthma.
>Tension: No solution seems to be working until Jeff decides to take initiatives.
>He takes up the challenge.
Changes his attitude. Focuses on positive. Considers his handicap as a strength. Runs to defeat asthma.
>Suffers a setback what forces him to be creative.
>Goes back on track.
Pushes back the pain thanks to his determination.
>Reaps the fruit of his effort and persistence: he wins races and develops the right state of mind enabling him to achieve success in any situation.

The hero’s journey

In the second part, the narrator, Bullas, steps back and leaves you the stage. Because this is all about you, reader.

YOU, READER, are the true hero of the story!

In the second part, the narrator changes roles. You as reader and target audience are from now on in the spotlight.
Bullas is at the same time the storyteller and a father figure, passing on his experience to you reader, now the main protagonist.
You are from now on in charge of writing your own success story.

As a writer, do you recognise yourself in this journey?

hero's journey

The Problem: You want to write on a regular basis but are lost as to how to proceed.
>Ordeal: you have got to accept the pain that goes with it. Do your daily grind.
And take up the challenge: embed PAIN in your daily life: write every day. Sustain your effort unflinchingly.
The Lesson: Persistence is the key to success.
> Open ending. You have been provided with the right tools, now it is up to you to achieve success.

The Story key moments

Why is it great storytelling? What makes this story so compelling?

A powerful beginning

The narrator manages to stir emotion through strong writing technique.
We expect the story to open with the challenges met by entrepreneurs. Not with a childhood story.

As a child I struggled to breathe.

This twist captures the reader’s attention right away. The opening sentence is a hook.
It creates a surprise effect and takes you towards an unexpected direction. You are eager to know more. That is where Bullas shows he is in full control over us readers.

Proximity to the reader

In the body of the story, the narrator weaves his story basing on two major keywords:
Pain and steps. The problem and the remedy.

By being authentic and exposing his weaknesses and learning curve, Bullas strikes a chord and earns the sympathy of his readers. The narrator manages to create a strong bond with his audience. His own experience resonates with the reader who feels exactly the same now as Bullas did back then: pain. Bullas understands the pain of the reader which is going through the same woes to achieve the very same goal: mastering the art of writing.
There is a mutual understanding of each other’s situation.

The continuity of the story

It is maintained through the recurring step image standing for perseverance and progress. This « step » image is bridging both part one and two of the story allowing the transition to flow naturally.

“That was my first lesson on the power of pain.
One step at a time. Stephen King was asked ‘how do you write these 120,000-word novels and he said ‘one word at a time…’ The path to success was just one step at time “.

The race to defeat asthma compares to the steps you need to take to get there as a writer-entrepreneur.
This stylistic device allows for consistency in the narrative.

An open ending…in your hands!

Now you are empowered and have all the ingredients to make it. The end of the story is blank, waiting for you to mark it with your own golden print. Now you are in the boss seat!

The end is skillfully crafted. In fact, it will be what we decide to make of it. Bullas is prompting us, readers, to take our destiny in our hands and follow his piece of advice to make it.
He cleverly steps back as storyteller to let us take the lead and write our own story, thus taking ownership of our fate as entrepreneurs.
A perfect call to action urging us to do what is needed. It is high time for us to take a step. One at a time.