Super quick tip today on how to make your stories punchy and engaging.
I learned it a few years ago watching the South Park documentary “6 days to air”.
After spending a few days figuring out what the next episode would be, Matt or Trey (I always forget who is who) went back to his office to write the script.
That’s when he dropped this gem which has been super helpful to me:
“When telling a story, replace the word “and” with “but” or “therefore”. It makes your writing better.”
If you tell a story like this: “So X happened and then Y happened and then Z happened” it gets boring. It’s too flat.
But if you say “So x happened, but then Y happened, therefore Z happened” it’s much more interesting.
Because now the story dynamic and alive. Things are playing off each other and moving the story forward in an exciting way.
Great example of how not to do this is the movie Neighbors. I saw it last year and was bored out of my mind. Halfway through I realized it was because the scenes didn’t build off each other. It was just “and then this quirky/annoying thing happened to them. Followed by this thing. And then this thing”.
This popped into my head because 20 minutes ago I was writing a script for a launch. As I was reading it I felt myself getting bored. Then I realized it was because I was just piling stuff on.
The story was just a series of things that happened. No conflict (which is what the word “but” introduces) and no showing how the events combined to create something new (which is what “therefore” does).
It was even making the sections where I talk about the benefits of the product boring. Because I was saying “You’ll get this benefit and that benefit and this other one.”
But it’s much more interesting to show how they build off each other. “You’ll get a bigger list and therefore more profit.”
Keep this in mind the next time you write a story and see what happens. Replace “and’s” with “but’s” and “therefore’s”.
Should lead to more engaging copy that moves the reader along.