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One Sentence Story

When Leo Tolstoy felt the urge to talk about life and war, it took him 6 years, several drafts, and over 560,000 words to complete War and Peace.
But telling stories doesn’t have to be hard (or take as long as an elementary school education.)
We already tell stories everyday … but when we sit down to write, it’s easy to freeze up.
Too many expectations. Maybe recurring nightmares from high school English.
(Bit of irony: I didn’t take English the required four years in high school. I only took 1.25 years of curriculum-approved study… and filled up the other 2.75 years with made-up projects.)
Simple is best.
Here’s all you need:
One day, something happened.
That’s about it. Tell me something that happened.
Don’t have to be funny. Or clever.
It helps if you put it in the most basic story structure:
1) A Goal
2) An Obstacle (conflict)
3) A Result — success or failure
But even if you don’t — even if you just relate what happened to you or someone else — you’ll trigger the story switch in your reader’s head, and have a better chance at winning their attention.
And you can do it in just one sentence:
Say you just want to introduce some content, and you don’t have time to go hunting for a story to wrap around your information.
Here’s a how a story pro does it:
Ree Drumond, aka the Pioneer Woman, tells stories like she breathes — easily and all the time.
Check out the one-sentence story she uses to kick off a recipe post (pure content):
“I made Raspberry Fool on a recent episode of my cooking show, and it reminded me that I had never posted it here or put it in one of my cookbooks—both of which I’m going to remedy tout de suite! “
Yep, it can be that simple. (see the entire post here.)
There’s even a little conflict (forgetting to post the recipe) and a result: she’s posting the recipe now.
Nothing more to it.

Reverse Engineering Comedy Stories

In today’s Story Sells article on Copy Chief,

One cool thing  that didn’t make it into the blog post …
… is that we learned how to write sketches by “reverse engineering”  4 different Sketch Comedy templates:
The first thing we did in the class after warming up (which I relate in embarrassing detail in my blog post) …
Was to learn these 4 formulas by watching examples from sketch comedy shows like Saturday Night LiveKey & Peele, and that great off-beat Canadian troupe, Kids In The Hall.
Here are the 4 templates along with links to the examples we learned from:
1. “Easy made Hard” (Here’s an example from SNL)
2. “Fish Out Of Water” (This one from Key & Peele)
3. “Unexpected Reaction” (Portlandia does it here)
4. “Clash of Context” (How Kids In The Hall Weird it up)
This reinforced two lessons:
First – Immerse yourself in examples for inspiration and guidance.
In other words, read books and watch movies.
So the next time you’re stretched on your couch in front of the toob or a good book, and someone gives you a hard time – just tell them it’s “research.”
And Second – It’s way easier to get started in any creative endeavor with a template.
(Heck of a lot easier than staring at a blank cursor.)
As for a Template, that’s why I included the 6-part story formula in Your Magnetic Sales Story.
Have you written yours out yet?


If so, let me know how it went by responding to this email.

To be continued,



Marketing + Stories == Fun and Profit

I’m Scott McKinstry, and welcome to marketingwithstory, a place where you can learn to harness the power of story for your biz.

While you’re here, feel free to:

1) Get Your Free Copy of Your Magnetic Sales Story, a step-by-step guide to using the power of story to connect and convert more prospects into loyal customers

2) Read my blog “Story Sells” on, where I muse about the intersection of storytelling and words for selling.

3) Contact me if you need help infusing the power of story into your marketing.

In the headline above I proposed the following equation:

Marketing + Stories == Fun & Proft

Let me briefly explain (you can read my longer explanation here.)

Continue reading Marketing + Stories == Fun and Profit