A story is a promise to your reader, to your audience.
Whatever it is, something must happen so the reader can be changed forever from that reading.
And, your audience is drawn to the implicit promise.
When it isn’t forthcoming, they turn away, possibly never to return.
Ultimately, all forms of entertainment are like that.
Fleeting at times.
Yet, the audience is still eager for more. They want to be entertained. Uplifted. Satisfied.
There is an unspoken promise that demands to be fulfilled. They want to raise their level of understanding. Even if they don’t know that.
Lenny Bruce brought comedy to new heights…even when he was jailed over and over again. He used his platform and voice to discuss politics, social issues and became the voice of the average person. He gave thought to what life was about. The audience came to hear him speak his truth. And, to be entertained.
It might be something they learn about themselves,
It might be something they need to understand about a past experience,
It might be a way to take them out of their own lives and into new thoughts.
The comedian George Carlin was a master at doing that. He’d present a social issue using all sorts of defining words and then reframe them into a story for the audience. The punchline carried with it an understanding of deeper meaning.
Whether a comedy act or a book, it comes with an “a-ha” moment that opens the window of truth for an audience so they can take control of their future selves.
A good story though, will act as a way to let go or reframe old outworn ideas and experiences in ways that are thought-provoking and empathetic.
The sense of, “If they can do it…so can I…” takes on a life of its own for the reader.
It becomes a possibility. An opportunity for change.
Within the individual, “Yes,” moment.
Along with the planning.
Before the actual work and accomplishment and success.
Even before the “a-ha” moment of understanding that is the necessary link between promise and fulfillment.
Whatever it is, for them it matters.
They can hear their own story, feel their own need, know their own reasons for reading.
Whatever those reasons are, the writer can’t go back on the original promise to the person who has invested the time and effort.
That reader wants results. An honest-to-goodness solution. A reason why. An understanding of sorts.
They really want a way to move forward with courage, empathy and especially something that sparks their imagination to new heights of wonder and awe.
People want to identify. They want to become that which they might not yet be.
They want and need inspiration.
An origin or journey story is inspiring. It takes the person from one place to a higher level of understanding and possibility — a way to identify and say, “Yes, that is me too.”
A legacy story is a herald to the past for future family generations — giving them an understanding of who came before them that opens a window for inspiration and imagination.
“This is who we are. This is where I came from,” is now part of the family heritage for many. It is a guide and a map to the future.
The reader will hear their own voice, their own struggles and will put themselves in that storyline. That story morphs into their story, and with that, readers want positive results.
Above all, a good story begins with a promise and ends with a possibility for the audience.