Because no-one remembers a faceless brand.
Use this 8-step Play to write short stories, introductions for long-form content, email and landing page copy as well as social media captions (think: LinkedIn and Instagram posts).
You can also use it to tell a brand founder’s story and your personal brand’s story.
A piece of paper (or fresh Google doc).
The Story Spine is template-based so you can work on your own or collaborate with another team member.
For video-powered content, you’ll want to work with your team to share ideas and review details when you flesh out the story that you lay out in the template.
First, here’s the template that you’ll need to fill in:
Once upon a time _______. Every day _______. But one day_____ because of that ______ because of that _____ because of that _____ until finally ______. And ever since then __________.
For example look at Nesha Woolery’s story.
Let’s break this template into eight steps that make up the Story Spine Play:
This is where you set the stage. Introduce the main character and their circumstances.
Struggling to set your story in a time and place? Think about answering the first questions that a viewer/reader may have.
You don’t have to necessarily use the words “once upon a time.” And you don’t have to share every detail right away – just share enough to give your audience context and a sense of whose story it is.
For example in 2016, after eight flop job interviews, I sat in a corner in my room – almost losing hope but hanging on as best as I could.
This is where you talk about your hero’s daily routine, drawing people into their everyday life. It involves setting deeper context, familiarizing your audience with the protagonist’s personality.
Now, think of something that upsets your hero’s daily life – something that stops them in their tracks – upsetting their normal day-to-day.
This is, essentially, a trigger event that will change things – for good or for bad depending on the story you want to tell.
For example: Some trigger incidents that your audience can relate with:
Now, work out the next step. Ask yourself: what will the hero do as a reaction to the catalyst event you chalked out in the step before.
Share the step that will follow the step above. Remember, no-one gets it right in one go – it always takes a minimum of 2-3 attempts to get things back on track.
For example: Backlinko’s story.
It starts by sharing the struggle and old normal packed into one line. Then comes the action step or one ‘because of that’ step. Finally, the story shares the new normal.
It’s not necessary you add another step here. But if you have one in mind, write it down.
In this step, share the climax – the result that happens as a result of the steps the hero takes above.
Tie everything together by sharing the new normal. This could be a happy ending or a sad one. If you have a moral or takeaway, you can share that too.
The Story Spine Play gives your story a plot or a strong outline. It’s only when you have a strong structure that you can work out the details.