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48. Learn To Be Subtle

48. Learn To Be Subtle

“Great stories are subtle. Surprisingly, the fewer details a marketer spells out, the more powerful the story becomes. Talented marketers understand that allowing people to draw their own conclusions is far more effective than announcing the punch line.” –Seth Godin

I said earlier that stories should have definitive endings and I meant it. I also brought up the fact that a definitive ending doesn’t mean that you answer every question. What it means is that you give the audience the tools that they need to seek those answers out and draw conclusions. That’s what Mr. Godin is getting at here. Modern audiences have grown tired of having everything spelled out for them. A story with no sense of ambiguity is great for teaching moral lessons, but it isn’t entertaining.

Learn to balance the desire to help your audience discover your truths and the need to hold back enough elements to give them a reason to keep going. Often it’s better to set out bread crumbs in your story, rather than laying down a four-lane highway.

Take the commercial for the Norweigian candy bar Stratos, for example. Do you understand what happened? I missed it the first time. Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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