Monday, March 29, 2010

Made to Stick

In their book, Made to Stick, brothers Chip and Dan Heath reveal why some ideas stick and others die--and they follow their own advice as writers of the book! If you want your message/ideas to stick, make sure they embrace six concepts:
• Simple
• Unexpected
• Concrete
• Credible
• Emotional
• Stories

I know the Heath Brothers would give "Headed for Trouble" (last post) their Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval! And I give Made to Stick my seal of approval, too.

My other favorite story in the book, The World's Shortest Stories, is called IN THE GARDEN and was submitted by Hope A. Torres. She wrote this long before the book Made to Stick was written, but she knew what makes a good story. Here's IN THE GARDEN:

Standing there in the garden, she saw him running toward her.
"Tina! My Flower! The love of my life!"
He'd said it at last.
"Oh Tom!"
"Tina, my flower!"
"Oh, Tom! I love you, too!"
Tom reached her, knelt down, and quickly pushed her aside.
"My flower" You were standing on my prize-winning rose!"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Headed For Trouble

This story, one of the winners of the first Fifty-Five Fiction contest in 1987, has to be one of my all-time favorites. It meets the criteria of MY FIVE-UNS:

• Unboring
• Unexpected
• Understandable
• Uncomplicated
• Unforgettable

See if you agree.

The scantily clad hitchhiker knew she was in trouble the moment she stepped into the car.
The driver gazed disapprovingly at her costume. "Looking for some fun?"
"No…I'm just going to the beach."
"Think so? Well, I've got other plans for you, sweetie, and they don't include beaches.
"Guess I'm grounded, huh, Mom?"

Dick Skeen, "Headed for Trouble," in The World's Shortest Stories, ed. Steve Moss (Philadelphia: Running Press Book Publishers, 1998) p. 105

Friday, March 19, 2010

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time…

For eons, these four words have been a signal that a journey into the mysteries and possibilities of the universe is just around the corner. Those words constitute a promise that something powerful is about to happen, and it almost always does.

Something else wonderful happens, too -- something equally as powerful as the story: a bond is forged between the storyteller and listener/reader that lasts a lifetime.

This is all for children, right? I've never thought so.

Adults yearn for compelling and engaging stories. Instead, as we age, the stories we hear in the course of education and instruction, work and play, get drier, more complicated and less engaging.

Great stories are just for leisure and recreation, right? I've never thought so.

In my world, learning at all ages would be enhanced through stories. For when a great story grabs our attention, we learn more quickly, we form opinions more easily, we become more philanthropic, we're better consumers, and we're in a better mood. And like children, we adults form bonds with the great story tellers whether we're learning about a citywide transportation project or reading about the GNP.

I am called to be The Story Whisperer, someone who will help others look for, find, love and share their stories in compelling and engaging ways. I love my own stories--why shouldn't you love yours, too?

I hope you'll join me as I begin my role as The Story Whisperer. I'll share tips and POWs (pearls of wisdom) so that we can all become better storytellers. My blog will be entertaining, educational and full of my own humorlosopher self. Stay tuned! mgs