Did you know there’s a basic structure you can use for just about any piece of writing? Many screenplay writers know this tried-and-true outline intimately (since movies are generally three acts and work quite effectively within these constraints). It’s called the Hero’s Journey (or Heroine’s Journey) and it consists of these parts:
- A hero is called to go on an adventure to solve some kind of problem. (Every good story has some kind of conflict driving the plot forward.)
- She may be reluctant to accept the call but eventually realizes that if she doesn’t solve the problem, her life will spiral out of control.
- A mentor helps her prepare for the adventure.
- After facing a series of challenges, the story reaches its climax. Will the hero overcome the problem or not?
- The hero emerges victorious and returns home transformed.
- [Source: The Writing Cooperative]
Here’s a more detailed look:
Take a moment and think of one of your favorite movies and you’ll see this structure as plain as day. Whether its The Wizard of Oz or Star Wars, a hero or heroine undergoes the same process of reluctance, commitment to a cause and finally, transformation.
Why does this structure work so well? Because as humans, we’re hardwired to embrace stories. This basic and ancient form of communication helps us learn, heal and grow.
So how to apply the Hero’s Journey to your marketing plan? Let’s take a jeweler I’ve worked with for years. Sure, we share all sorts of info via social media about his amazing custom designs. But its the personal story-based content that truly resonates and connects with the hearts of his followers.
Here, I’ll make one up for you:
Janice and Frank were childhood sweethearts but when they entered adulthood, life had other plans them. Janice moved to Paris to study language and Frank stayed in New York to become one of Brooklyn’s top chefs.
While visiting New York and dining in a popular restaurant, Janice asked to meet the chef (since it was the best meal she had ever eaten) and lo and behold, Frank appeared before her eyes. Even though 20 years had passed, the flame between them burned as strong as ever.
Later that year, under the Eiffel Tower, Frank proposed and Janice cried out an enthusiastic yes. The inscription on the ring read: “Regret for wasted time is more wasted time.”
INSERT HAPPY COUPLE WITH CUSTOM MADE RING HERE.
Eh…it’s not a fine literary work or anything (I told you I made it up on the spot), but it proves a point. Stories connect while information well, just informs.
If I had simply written a detailed description of the ring and how it was constructed, it wouldn’t be nearly as effective (though in some cases, that may be exactly what you want to relay).
Ultimately, people connect with human emotion and story. The next blog piece you write, use the Hero’s Journey approach. Heck, use it when writing emails, social media posts or telling stories to your drunken friends at a party.
Get into the habit of mastering storytelling and you just made your marketing that much more multi-layered and successful.