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Seven things that make a great story

This post from Tom Albrighton draws on academic research into political storytelling, and other sources, to argue that the most effective commercial stories share seven closely related characteristics: drama, familiarity, simplicity, immersion, relatability, agency and trust in the teller.

  1. Drama. Stories need dramatic development and emotional dynamics. Taking out the ‘bad bits’ damages trust.

  2. Familiarity. The more familiar a story feels, the more powerful it is.

  3. Simplicity. Simple stories are strong stories. Take out everything that doesn’t serve the narrative.

  4. Immersion. The more readers put themselves into a story, the more likely they are to change their opinions.

  5. Relatability. The more people identify with a story, the more likely they are to be persuaded.

  6. Agency. Stories are most persuasive when readers work out their meaning for themselves.

  7. Trust in the teller. Our feelings about a storyteller influence our reaction to their story.

Storytelling has become one of the most popular techniques of marketing communication. It’s an effective way to engage audiences, convey information, and influence people without using overt persuasion. This graphic shows characteristics of great stories, as found by academic researchers and professional writers.

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