So, you talk about tropes a lot, Steph

Storytelling for Success

Yep, I do. And I play pretty fast and loose with the term, too. But there’s a method to my madness. Won’t you join me as I saunter down the trope-y garden path?

But before we begin: A warning. Stay on that path. If you stray, you may end up lost in the dark wood, and stumble across a place called TV Tropes. And it will devour all your free time. In a glorious self-referential display, TV Tropes even has a page about how TV Tropes will ruin everything for you. I’m not kidding. That site is a massive time sink (but also excellent and useful for analyzing storytelling). So. Beware, abandon all hope, etc.

Back to tropes. What are they? Strictly speaking, they’re figurative language — similes, metaphors, figures of speech, that sort of thing. But like a lot of terms, the word has mutated over time and now means rhetorical or literary devices, the techniques that are the basic building blocks of storytelling. Like Legos. You can use the same blocks (knights and princesses) to build a spaceship (Star Wars) or a castle (King Arthur). Continue reading

So, what does storytelling require, anyway? Part 3

Storytelling for Success

We’re back again. Together. You and me, ol’ buddy ol’ pal. Here to check out those classical Western storytelling tropes and how they can make your marketing awesome. We’ve already covered the protagonist vs. society and the protagonist vs. antagonist, so today, we’re going to take a look at…

Protagonist vs. Self, ie: Crippling Self-Doubt, Tony Stark’s Default State, Gregor Samsa’s Bad Day, Me Trying Not To Eat A Whole Tin Of Smoked Oysters On Crackers With Hot Sauce Don’t Judge Me They Are Delicious.  Continue reading

So, what does storytelling require, anyway? Part 2

Storytelling for Success

When we last left our intrepid hero on the road to narrative success, I was breaking down the four classic narrative tropes. Not just out of the goodness of my heart, though. Nope. Out of a desire to help make marketing that doesn’t suck. And as luck would have it, there is an incredible of excellent marketing that concentrates on the next trope. So let’s take a look at…

Protagonist vs. Society, ie: The Man Can’t Keep Me Down (Unless We’re Talkin’ Orwell Because In That Case Yikes), Fighting the Good Fight, Plucky Hero Battling Overwhelming Odds, Me vs. An Entire Culture Set Up For Folks Who Are Morning People Where Is My Coffee  Continue reading

So, what does storytelling require, anyway?

Storytelling for Success

I’m so glad you asked! You’re my favorite. Don’t tell the others. It’ll be our little secret.

The short answer is that storytelling is narrative and narrative is driven by conflict. The long answer? Let’s dig into the guts of that.

Traditionally, conflict comes in the form of the big four: Man vs. Man, Man vs. Society, Man vs. Nature, and Man vs. Self. (But since this is 2014, I’m just going to go ahead and use the term Protagonist, or even Protag, because c’mon. There’s also some other X vs. Y ideas, and we’ll delve into those too.) What do each of these categories mean, especially in terms of marketing? We’ll take ’em one by one. Starting, in this post, with…  Continue reading