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33. Have a Clear Point of View

33. Have a Clear Point of View

What idea are you trying to convey?

A story needs to have a point. A concept that is driving it forward, that adds meaning to it and gives you a reason to reflect (think back to the story structure from near the beginning of this romp).

A story also needs to have a point of view as the storyteller you need to take some kind of stand and posit some kind of worldview.

Think back to the story of the Golden Goose.

  • Man finds Goose.
  • Man realizes that the Goose lays golden eggs.
  • Man becomes rich.
  • Man becomes greedy and kills Goose.
  • Man loses that which made him rich because of greed.
  • The moral: don’t be greedy.

Even relatively simple stories like fables can be powerful when they have a clear, incisive point. The storycenter puts it like this, bringing up proverbs, another short-form narrative.

We need to look no further than proverbs to illustrate what we mean by a point of view. ‘A stitch in time saves nine.’ ‘A penny wise and a pound foolish.’ These are the points of stories, what somebody realized is the actual result, versus the desired effect, of a planned action. We may have forgotten the stories, but we remember the point. In novels or theater, another way of expressing the point of the story is the central premise. For example, in King Lear, the point or central premise is ‘blind trust leads to destruction.’ In Macbeth, it is ‘unbridled greed leads to destruction.’ Every part of the dramatic action can be boiled down to serving these points of view, and our connection with the story often succeeds or fails in how we understand the central premise as the operating context for the story’s action. In well-crafted stories, the point may be a little less apparent than the moral of a fairy tale, and it might require some thought, but if the story touched you, chances are you can define some central points or the transformative realizations the author intended.

Especially in advertising, where the point is to convey a strong, persuasive message, make sure that all of your story elements help to bolster your “point.” Take the time to define your goals clearly and make the effort to have your story drive towards them.

Watch this retelling of a classic Aesop Fable and try to discover what the central point is, tell me about it in the comments.

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