I love this model: the story spine which combines the art of business storytelling with a practical approach for business. I have written about it many times and have used it for years. I learned this model in improv theater – yes, the stage! The stage is where great storytelling happens that takes us on an emotional journey that we care about. It’s just one approach to getting started, and, as you get more experienced and comfortable with the main pieces, you can adapt, extend, add on to this model.
It’s a great, simple way to think through narrative structure for any story. The ‘once upon time’ approach is a universal method that we all recognize and it models not only how great stories move through different elements; it works because that’s how our human brains think. In stories!
It’s called the 7-Step Story Spine created by Kenn Adams. Why I love it is because it helps people think through a structure that advances the story: what happens next, then what happens…until ultimately this happens (some changing event/product/service/issue) and there is a big change for your customer: it’s the ‘because of this, because of this….then that” part of the spine:
The Story Spine
Once upon a time…
But, one day..
Because of that…
Because of that…(you can repeat this as many times as you need…less however is more as it is easier to remember!)
And, ever since then….(something has changed for your customer…what is it?!)
One thing about the story spine is that is just that – a spine. You still have to flesh out specifics and add the emotional undercurrent for your story to be powerful. However, it is a great tool for getting started and when I am dealing with customers who aren’t sure where to start, it’s helps to ensure we think through the big pieces of narrative structure. You can apply it a few ways: I have a part I and part II of an article I wrote a few years ago that will walk you through this.
I also talked about this on my podcast recently and I explain each step.
As you get more comfortable with storytelling, you don’t need to use this model or the exact wording of each step. It’s only there as a guide. Yet, it’s a great place to start. Have fun!
Have you used the story spine? Let me know how. Got another model that works for you? I’d love to hear about it. Share in the comments below. To your storytelling success!
Header image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kodomut/
Very powerful, recently I discovered how telling a story from a personal view can count too much for SEO or how we call it in spanish “Posicionamiento Web”, I started writing my personal story about a personal project and after 1 day or two, people started commenting about and sharing it !, so yes, thanks, this confirms my believes about be more “personal” on some histories, thanks, great post.
Hey Kathy I love what your work on this. So glad I found you. I just finished listening to the aforementioned podcast and reading the other blog posts you referenced.
I have contacted you via FB and LI as per Kelli Law’s recommendation . . . she was kind to point me in your direction.
In my work with people I emphasize the move from the “technical” to the “personal” and can testify to the power of dealing at the human implication level which is the function of “Because of that . . . ”
I was just reminded of this truth recently when I reviewed a video advert produced by a wordsmith company which was illustrating the power of words . . . perhaps you saw it. The video shows a man on the street sitting on a blanket with a sign that says, “I’m blind, please help”. A few people give some small amounts of change here and there. But then a woman takes his sign, turns it around, and on the blank backside writes, “It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it”. The new sign results in a significant increases in benevolent activity.
The real power at play is not necessarily the words . . . but the shift from the technical “blindness” to the human impact, not being able to see a beautiful day. It really is a splendid illustration https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hzgzim5m7oU.
In addition, I talk about the Narrative Circle which consists of three phases . . . Comfort > Chaos > Correction. I like to present it as a circle because it visually demonstrates that once we get back to a state of “comfort” it’s only a matter of time until there is another sort of “chaos”. The inherent cyclical aspect is actually quite native to being a “storied species”.
I am looking forward to learning from you . . . thanks for producing such meaningful quality content and sharing it so readily!