I’m a type 1 diabetic. My life consists of data points: checking my blood sugar multiple times per day, counting carbohydrates, accounting for exercise and stress and lack of sleep, regular visits to the endocrinologist, basal and bolus and correction rates, the A1C (a three-month average of blood glucose readings) and other lab work. It’s a lot of data. Overwhelming at times.
The success of the James Bond franchise can be attributed to any number of factors: the actors (No to George Lazenby; yes to everyone else.), the spy toys, Q and M, the cars, and – I have to mention them – the Bond girls (Again, only some of them.). Another factor is the storytelling one. Each Bond movie begins in the middle of the action. No explanation is given for why Bond is in Moscow, Turkey, or some other place. The exact reason for why Bond is chasing some henchman all over the place isn’t immediately revealed; it’s only later that the facts begin to tie together. By then, the viewer has been so submerged in the story that he or she is caught. The viewer has to follow the story to its end, even if the end is known: Bond will save the day in a more or less glorious fashion depending on the director and the direction of the film.
When I first meet with potential clients, I don’t focus on their writing. I focus on their story. I ask questions. I found out what they do. I discover what they would like to do. I ask why they do what they do or why they want to move in a different direction. I ask them how they will communicate what they do and why they do it to their audience. I ask them for, in a word, a vision.
When I say or write the word “story,” most people probably think of a written story. The thought isn’t wrong, but it isn’t necessarily full-bodied, either. A story can take a variety of forms. It can be told visually. It even can be an oral story.
Stories have a rhythm to them. They have their characters, usually the protagonist and the antagonist. They have their devices: repetition, foreshadow, metaphor. They have their climaxes and anti-climaxes. Depending on the type of story, the story might have a moral to it – think Aesop’s Fables – or it might cause a reader to understand a culture, a way of thought, a product, or a service. Yes, stories have a rhythm.