All of the thousands of stories used in content writing and copywriting boil down to 7 basic story plots.
Yes, that surprised me, too.
In a 2006 book, British journalist Christopher Booker outlined The Seven Basic Plots, which distills all stories (long or short, ancient or contemporary) to seven classic patterns.
Each plot, he explains, centers on a main character, his setback, and what happens to him.
When you use a pattern, writing formula, or template, you can save time and you can have assurance that you’re following a proven model.
So why not use these 7 story plots to outline your content writing story?
Your story will be stronger for it and it will be easier to make your point. Here’s why.
Like in any other storytelling scenario, a content writing story has a main character. In content writing, that character is a beneficiary of your nonprofit, a satisfied customer, or a target reader.
Think about the stories you write for blog posts, web pages, newsletter articles, and other content writing.
There are 7 variations of this pattern, but don’t you agree that your stories follow this basic framework?
Hence the 7 story plots.
As you gather stories or examples from your work, identify how your main character’s situation follows one of these patterns. Then use the story writing tips for that plot line to highlight the character’s problem, the product/service/answer he uses, and the outcome - that is, the point.
The main character faces an obstacle, but by using your product or service is able to overcome the obstacle.
Think Star Wars or David and Goliath.
The character faces insignificance, irrelevance or invalidation but uses your product, service, or answer to find significance or even exceptionalism.
Think Cinderella or Aladdin.
The character faces a journey to achieve a goal. Your product, service, or answer helps her make progress or helps her once she reaches her destination.
Think The Wizard of Oz or Harry Potter.
The character faces a journey into a different environment and returns wiser. Your product, service, or answer helps her gain experience or grow in the process.
Think Goldilocks or Finding Nemo.
The character faces a series of errors, events, or activities leading to a culminating happy conclusion.
Think Much Ado About Nothing or Tom Sawyer
The character’s flaw or mistake can lead to his undoing.
Think Macbeth or Breaking Bad
The character has an experience that causes her to change her ways, which she does by using your product, service, or answer
Think It’s a Wonderful Life, Beauty and the Beast, A Christmas Carol
Which of the basic story plots will you use for your anecdotal story in your next piece of content writing?
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Content by award-winning content writer and author Kathy Widenhouse, who specializes in writing for nonprofits and faith-based organizations.
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