Three steps for writing a story that inspires.

Human beings are bad at remembering facts, but good at remembering stories.

Madhav Bahl
9 min readJan 6, 2021

“Those who tell stories rule society.” — Plato

Let me ask you 2 questions —

  1. Do you remember the exact date when Alexander the great was born? Most probably no (even I don’t know it, and I am not going to search it on Google)
  2. Do you remember the story of Alexander the great? Most probably yes!

These questions were to make you realize that human minds are bad at remembering facts and figures but good at remembering stories.

So, should we stop using facts and start telling stories?

Photo by Tachina Lee on Unsplash

Absolutely no!

Both of these forms of delivering content are important and have their own use case.

Let’s take an example, consider a scenario where you (as a potential buyer) of a fitness program are interested about an online course by a famous instructor, so you would (probably) be interested in knowing the stats,

  • How many people got benefit from this program?
  • What were the results?
  • The diet plan and gym membership, is it in your budget?

And so on…

In this scenario, instead of showing you the exact data, if the instructor starts telling you stories, you will probably feel that he is wasting your time, isn’t it?

While facts and figures might be better for making a good impact of your work on your audience, telling stories can help you connect better with your audience. So you will have to decide when to use which!

In this article, I am going to tell you three steps in which you can make your story more motivating, exciting, impressive, and engaging. But, before we go further, let me tell you the 4 things that makes a story, a good story.

4 Things that makes a story worthwhile

Have you noticed a common pattern between all the stories that you remember?

Photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash

Ok, let me remind you, do you remember the life stories of Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Ashoka The Great, Gautama Buddha, and many others…

Try to connect the dots, and see what makes their story so interesting that people (will) remember it even after hundreds of years. Think about the common patterns for a minute, and you can easily find these four general things in all the stories that you remember,

  1. Who they were vs who they are — The character development phase
  2. What have they overcome — The struggles
  3. What’s the legacy they left behind — The ideals and principles
  4. What makes them credible — The impact they had

And the fun fact about storytelling is that you don’t need to be a living legend to write a story for your personal brand, or your product does not have to be an “elixir of immortal life” to make a story about it,

You can write a story right now, irrespective of your circumstances and situations. Let me tell you how.

But I still think that I have done nothing significant…

When I talk about storytelling, a lot of people come to me saying that they haven’t done anything which can create a good story.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

If you are thinking something similar, let me tell you a few things —

  1. Storytelling is not just limited to life journey and portraying what have you accomplished, it’s also about sharing ideas. Great stories can be made out of great ideas.
  2. If you are building a brand, either for yourself (personal brand) or for your company/product, the above 4 points will also change accordingly, and you can craft a story from small incidents from your life, or through some testimonials.
  3. Breakthrough changes often produce good stories, but storytelling isn’t limited to huge events, you can form a story out of every little lesson that life/work teaches you.

So, no matter who you are or what you do, storytelling is for you!

BE CLEAR with what you want to convey

People relate more when you clearly convey a point to them, which probably helps them achieve something or solve some problem.

Photo by Sergey Shmidt on Unsplash

So before jumping on to “How to write a good story”, be clear on what is the information you want to convey, for example -

  1. Your journey from an average high-school student to being a university topper?
  2. A cool productivity app that you built?
  3. A project idea that you have?

And so on…

But how to find something worth sharing?

Remember, people generally read things that are

  1. Informative,
  2. Helpful
  3. Growth related
  4. Challenging
  5. Funny

Ask yourself a few questions -

  1. How can you help your readers?
  2. How can you help reduce something that worries your network/audience?
  3. Can you teach them a skill?
  4. Can you tell something entertaining, or funny?
  5. How can you solve some problem which they might be facing?
  6. Can you inspire/motivate them?
  7. How can you help them achieve a goal?

There will be multiple answers to these questions, and each answer would be a potential idea for your next story.

Now that you have the idea on what to write the story, here are the 3 step process that can help you create a story worth remembering!

1. The character development

“Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.” — Allen Ginsberg

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

By giving a hint of past vs future, or giving a hint of what problem has been solved at the start, a story can become exciting and can leave the readers/viewers curious about this change.

If you follow any digital marketer or any video content creator, you can (most of the time) find one similarity, they give a hint of what’s going to come in the video.

There’s a big problem with promotion — If you sell too much, nobody will like you.

That’s where storytelling comes in, leveraging its power, you can

  • Create a brand
  • Raise an issue
  • Reach a wider audience
  • (Not to mention), tell a story
  • Create engaging content

And, when you have the power to do the above-mentioned things, you would rarely need promotional posts, your story will automatically promote

  • The brand you are creating,
  • The product your are selling, or
  • The service you are offering.

How to do it?

Simple, by having an answer to these 3 questions-

  • Do you have something exciting (from the main content) to show as a preview? Probably something that can leave the viewers curious…
  • Is there a noticeable difference between the people who use your product/service or follow your brand, vs. those who don’t?
  • Lastly, the evergreen question — Who you were before vs who you are now — Leverage your growth or the growth of your users to create a story.

If you have a positive answer to even one of these 3 questions, trust me, you have a good start to your story!

2. The fight

The more the storm, the more the strength.

Photo by Attentie Attentie on Unsplash

The second phase of any story can include all the things that happened to the main character of the story which helped him grow. I call it “The phase of relatable moments”.

A good story is always relatable

“Audience retention” is a big challenge for any content creator or digital marketer.

If the initial few moments of any content or story seems something that the viewer is going through, he/she will decide to watch the content further, but, people often leave the content in between if they don’t find it

  • Relatable
  • Helpful
  • Solving the problem mentioned in the title/description

Therefore, mentioning the experiences that the audience can relate to, makes the story much more engaging.

How to do it?

Here are some tips that you can use while writing “the phase of relatable moments”

  • Share your experiences.
  • Share about the difficult times that you/your target audience had to go through before they found out that product/service/brand.
  • Connect with the audience who might be going through a similar phase by mentioning difference scenarios.
  • Mention some case studies.
  • Start talking about “that breakthrough moment”.

Remember, the intent is to help people who might be going through a similar phase to come out of it by telling how your product/your service/you solved that problem.

3. The conclusion and how can it help others

Help them solve a problem, or
Help them understand a difficult concept, or
Help them achieve a (common) goal.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

The difference between a good story and a clickbait content is the solution offered.

You can go on creating thousands of blogs or videos on —

  • How to be a billionare in 5 months
  • How to become a web developer in 5 days
  • How to become an android developer in 5 seconds

And so on…

Sure, you will get tons of views, but the audience retention will be zero if you don’t offer a concrete advise with actionable steps.

And the worst part is, people who know that the content is usually vague won’t come again (even if you offer some good solution the next time).

We have to remember that people consume our content due to very few reasons which majorly revolve around

  • Achieving a goal they aspire
  • Solving a problem they are going through
  • Understanding a topic they can’t understand themselves
  • Improving their lives
  • Or, simply for entertainment

So, remember to add those “aha” moments in your story where the readers/viewers can get some real value.

How to do so?

Here are some tips for the conclusion phase of your story

  • Try to add those “aha” moments.
  • Mention what you learnt from your struggle phase.
  • Mention how you/your product/your service solved the problem.
  • Mention how you/your product/your service are good enough to help others who might be going through same situation.
  • Try to add some real solutions or actionable steps which can help the readers/viewers.

Voila! There you have the recipe for the perfect story.

Hope you enjoyed this article and got some knowledge about branding through storytelling.

But, theory alone isn’t enough, this deserves an example, isn’t it?

Although you can pick up almost any advertisement and you can find how they leverage these 3 steps while putting in their own unique style.

Here’s an amazing one by Google (do watch this if you understand Hindi) —

The best thing about this video is how they promote the search engine in a subtle manner many times in between the video, and give the solution to your problems without explicitly stating how.

Next time when you see an ad, remember and try to relate the 3 steps I told you in this blog.

That’s it, I hope you enjoyed this article. I publish weekly newsletters on self-help, productivity, and personal growth, do subscribe to it to hear from me every week.

Thanks for reading till the end, I hope you liked the article. Do let me know how you implemented these techniques and if they helped you write your own unique brand story, I would love to hear your experiences.

Feel free to reach out to me anytime if you want to discuss something :D

I would be more than happy if you send your feedback, suggestions.
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Madhav Bahl

✨ Tech, Fitness and Lifestyle - Helping software professionals stay fit and grow in career ✨