#short explained

3. Storytelling and storyline

The basic pattern of a story consists of three parts, which can be described in the simplest form as beginning, middle, end. Or perhaps more precisely: initial situation, complication, resolution.

#Building the storyline with the storytelling template.

The Leader Thread

Every story needs:

  1. An occasion or an emotionally gripping initial situation. Context of the story (links below).
  2. A sympathetic main character (hero) with whom viewers can identify. 
    This is complemented by an antagonist (anti-hero, cause of conflict). This does not have to be a person. (center bottom)
  3. An exciting “journey” through conflicts and obstacles. (Climbing the mountain)
  4. A climax in which the conflict is resolved and a perceptible change occurs in the main character or a situation. (Summit and descent from the mountain)
  5. The message that everyone should take away. (Bottom right)


Why do people need stories?

Stories were essential for survival long before there were books. Imagine a Stone Age child leaving the cave for the first time. Everything it knows, it knows from the stories of the elders. These stories warn of dangers or praise deeds that ensure one’s own survival and that of the community. They are the filter with which our Stone Age child looks at the world. 

Stories create even more: They connect. People who internalize similar stories look at the world and its events in a similar way. This strengthens the cohesion and continuity of larger communities, whether they are tribes or entire empires. 

What is storytelling?

Storytelling is a method for passing on knowledge and, above all, values in a memorable form. It’s a method that everyone can learn. Because it is based on recurring, effective patterns. We show and explain these patterns on the following pages. Why do you need them? People love stories and people learn effectively through stories – including your students. Try it out, for example with a story from your own school days. 

Ancient legends, Grimm's fairy tales...

Who needs stories today, where all the facts are available at any time at the click of a mouse?

The cell phone is constantly buzzing, the feed never ends. We are bombarded with more information than ever before. The meaning of this information only emerges in our minds. What is important, what is unimportant? What’s right, what’s wrong? With the help of stories, we are constantly comparing notes. We have this in common with the Stone Age child. Our brain can sort out at lightning speed which information deserves our attention. Saber-toothed tiger? Mammoth? 

Good stories have an impact on us. And shared emotions connect us. Because we can’t get enough of laughing, crying and getting excited together, we share good stories with those we care about. Today, that only costs us one click on social media. 

How do stories work?

A story only works if it is shared. And then it can be very powerful. This is shown by myths like the incubator lie in the Gulf War. It’s not a question of whether stories are true, but how they influence our evaluation. That’s even more true today in the face of deep fakes and conspiracy theories. Whose story is shared the most has the interpretive authority. And in the social media, a story quickly goes viral, reaching hundreds of thousands of people. 

How do you handle that?

All the more important that we learn to reflect and question the narratives in the (social) media. What stories do we share when it comes to climate change or diversity in society? 

Let’s tell our own stories! Because that’s how we help shape society. In the process, we often learn new things ourselves, during the creation of the story and afterwards through the feedback of our audience. 

And what are the archetypes?

  • The Hero’s Journey
  • Defeat the monster
  • From dishwasher to millionaire
  • The Quest
  • The voyage and return
  • The Comedy
  • The Tragedy
  • The rebirth 


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