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What Drama Musicals Can Teach Us About Great Blog Writing

This guest post is by Achim “Chef Keem” Thiemermann of MusicalWorkshop.org.

As the US webmaster and social media manager of Europe’s most successful musical librettist and lyricist, Dr. Michael Kunze, I am intimately familiar with his unique brand of storytelling: the drama musical. To this day, Michael’s combined works (original musicals and foreign-language adaptions) have sold 33 million tickets for a whopping $1,012,000,000! He must be doing something right. Right?

Just a few weeks ago I started thinking about the similarities between blogging and writing a musical play: in both instances we are striving to elicit emotion from our audiences, which in turn shall motivate them to take some kind of action.

Whether they are theater goers or blog visitors, it is the art of telling a good story that makes all the difference in their response to our pitch.

Michael Kunze has some intriguing insights on storytelling:

“I am a storyteller by profession, although I started out as a songwriter. When I had stories to tell that would not fit into the tiny format of a song, I became a dramatist for the musical stage. By studying the elements of successful musicals, I soon found out that they all were based on the same kind of structure.”

“And I discovered something surprising … the story is primarily told through its structure. Quite a blow for someone who believes in the power of words and sentences!”

“Over the years I’ve developed a very distinct structure for my drama musicals. So far I’ve written five original shows, and each one has become an international success. Altogether, they have reached more than 15 million people. I have no doubt that I owe this success to the fact that my musicals are better structured than most.”

Let’s take a closer look at Michael’s method of telling a good story.

The basic structure of a drama musical

  1. In the beginning we learn about the protagonist’s (hero’s) desire to achieve a certain goal.
  2. Facing powerful antagonistic forces, our hero initially descends into a “hole” with seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
  3. To recover from all kinds of setbacks, and to continue on the path to fulfillment, he must overcome one or more of his character flaws.
  4. As the story unfolds, the protagonist encounters a number of dramatic turns and surprising twists, which further illustrate his or her different stages of progress.
  5. After a key experience toward the end of the story, our protagonist has learned his lessons and thus become a better person. He is now ready to complete his journey.

So, what if you applied the principles of successful musical dramas to your writing?

You are the protagonist in your blog posts!

In writing as protagonists and describing your experiences with products, travel tips, online tools, recipes, personal growth issues, or whatever topic you’re blogging about—your stories must fascinate the readers through an emotional ride from a troubled beginning to a satisfactory ending.

Help your audience identify with you—the hero of your story. Ask these questions:

  • Which obstacles had originally kept you from achieving your desired end results? Was it shyness, ignorance, pride, indecisiveness, procrastination, or lack of self-esteem?
  • What did you have to do to remedy your situation? Stand up against nay-sayers (including yourself)? Put in some extra work through research and courses? Let go of old habits? Push through your “dip”?
  • What were some of the milestones signifying your continuing progress? What motivated you to keep going in the face of adversity? Which insights confirmed that you were on the right path?
  • What major personal break-through did you experience in the end? What did you learn about yourself that took you to the desired level of success?
  • Now that you have achieved your goals, how can your readers benefit from your efforts? How can you solve their problems or make their lives better and easier? What is your extraordinary gift to your audience?

Why story structure is important

Michael’s additional words of advice:

“Most of us tend to write as we talk—unstructured. But blogging is not so different from other forms of writing. To grab the reader’s interest give him a story. A story with a beginning, a middle, and an end.”

“Even better: A story with one or two surprising twists that keep the reader curious and wanting to know the ending. And, make sure that you know the ending before you start writing.”

Actually quite simple, isn’t it? Do you use storytelling structure in your blog posts?

Achim “Chef Keem” Thiemermann manages MusicalWorkshop.org, Michael Kunze’s English-language website. He is also a co-founder of the new revenue-sharing writers’ platform called Wizzley.com.

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Comments

  1. Jen says:

    This is a great post! I do follow this structure with some deviation at points. I really resonate with knowing the end before you start and also avoiding blogging like you talk. I often start my posts as I talk, and then edit out the stuff that’s random or seemed significant but, after reading it, it’s actually a distraction. That process can be painful if I thought the random bit was funny, interesting, etc. I’ve learned that it makes no sense to try and force the piece that I’m holding on to if it isn’t engaging or has the potential to be confusing to the reader. In that way, blogging, like any other writing, becomes a spiritual practice – perhaps a practice worth blogging about and fitting considering the structure provided above!

  2. This is a really interesting take on blogging, but it also is going to resonate with a lot of people very well. I personally look at a lot of things from a musical perspective as I am a drummer myself. Great post man

  3. I enjoy it when people pull from seemingly unrelated disciplines to explain or give an example. I have always enjoyed theater, musicals especially and in my family my husb and his three boys are all musicians, one also majoring in drama, so plenty to relate to this idea.

    I do feel though that even if you’re not writing like you talk per se’, your voice should always shine through even if using a particular format or formula. In that regard, blogging is different than theater. In theater, movies and other arts. you don’t want to necessarily hear the writer though you may be able to identify it is his or her work. In blogging though, you want readers to relate to you, get to know you as an expert etc. Having a good balance between following a familiar pattern yet still communicating as yourself is where the sweet spot is.

  4. Kevin Cullis says:

    I learned as I was writing my first book a friend suggested that I write some “case studies” in my book. Gret idea, until my wife heard about it and gave me her familiar “You’ve got to be kidding me?” look. I then realized that most people could care less about “case studies,” but they DO like good stories. You get some much more out of a story than a case study and it’s much more fun to write and read, engaging.

    Thanks for the great story.

    Kevin

    • Kevin, very interesting insight on the case study and your wife is right – nobody wants to read case studies yet so many article writers do them. LOL! I read an article writer using a case study and I guess my eyes glazed over I quickly scanned the page so I could get to the funny part or to the point which sometimes is: What are you selling? LOL!

  5. Although i have no ideas about how drama musicals works but the points you mentioned are important in a blog. I see people are comparing blogs to other things a lot these days:D some time ago i read a post comparing eminem with a blog and now this. Great thinking man..

  6. John says:

    It’s really a beautiful post, which is useful for everyone

  7. On my current website Pizza Spotz, I rarely tell a story myself. Mostly all I have are pizza lists. Hopefully, in the near future, I’ll have a lot of user generated content which will consist of lists and reviews. I guess reviews can count as stories. An introduction to the pizzeria, the story of how the pizza arrived, what happened when it was eaten, the grossness of a dead cockroach covered in cheese : ) and so on. But even with pizzeria reviews, there isn’t much of a story. Knowing blog readers love stories as much as any fan of musical drams, I decided to add interviews to my website. Eventually, I hope to have a new interview with pizzeria owners every week. Still working on my first one though. I think finding out how someone got to where they are at now, especially if they are successful, makes a great read.

    Thanks for your thoughts on adding structure to our posts.

  8. Admittedly, my fledgling blog has only a few examples to show, but I’ve certainly approached them from this perspective. An insurmountable problem, obstacles and challenges to show “character growth”, and a valuable takeaway in the form of immediately useable strategies. Great writing is all about the stories we tell, no matter what niche you’re in.

    You’ve really hit the nail on the head with this one, I’m adding it to my “favorites”.
    Thanks for the great story.

    -Douglas

  9. Hi Achim,

    Everybody loves a good story, especially an emotionally-moving story we can connect to.

    I use structure in some of my posts. Maybe I don’t delve into an entire story, because my style is short and punchy, but most of my posts recount some real world lesson I learned something from.

    Be human. Tell your audience, your faults, and how you release on self-defeating tendencies. Show your readers how you overcame obstacles, inspiring them to do the same. Many of my biggest victories came after I learned how to defeat obstacles from a fellow blogger, or business associate.

    By this person showing me the way, I learned the way. The generous lesson shared with me formed an instant bond. The bond motivates me to share my fellow blogger’s content, to spread their word, to continue to support these folks no matter what, because they helped me, and I believe in them.

    All of this, because the blogger opened up, shared something about themselves and taught me how to overcome a seemingly impossible situation. We connect to those who are real, to those who share freely and craft a neat little story with their posts.

    Thanks for sharing the way cool analogy Achim.

    Ryan

  10. Guy Hogan says:

    This all makes perfect sense. I have an MFA in fiction writing and I can see how what you say is true. Now, I will try to be more aware of the musical drama technique and to use its structure in my blogging. Thank you.

  11. Wonderful post. I would definitely say the key word is structure that resonates with the writer to bring about their best possible talent that emotionally connects with their reader in the content.

    Whether you are planning your time (Stephen Guise wrote a guest blog piece on here last week about organizing your time) or writing your content, structure is the map for the reader.

    Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert was such a success based in part what I believe was how the book was structured. It made sense whether the story was being told via written word or audio based upon the principles of the chakra, etc.

    As a blogger it’s also easier to have a structure in place, especially if you have a lot of notes with regards to your topic and you need to quickly get your content out. I’m going to spend some time refining my structure. With such a busy schedule and household, a little bit more structure couldn’t hurt.

  12. Thank you all for your thoughtful comments. I’m actually learning a lot more about my topic from reading your personal “takes” and additional thoughts. My special thanks to Jen, Cheryl, Kevin, Douglas, and Ryan for your inspiring contributions. Of course, I appreciate every single comment. It’s just that those five really hit home right away. (Deep bow)

  13. Hello Achiem, thanks for your Post,

    To be honest I don’t usually go to Drama Musicals, although after a little research I discovered that in 2008 I actually have been to one :) ( you can read about it on my Music Blog at: http://hpshappymusic.blogspot.com/2008/01/tarzan-great-music-great-performance.html )

    Thanks for writing about this, because I do think that it definitely is an interesting approach, and since I acually have done a Script Writing Course some years ago, it definitely is something to take a closer look at, since I could use improvement for what facinating my readers is concerned. Although recently on several of my Blogs I now finally begin to get a little actual readers, and you can see them ‘Pop-up’ in my Recent Comments widget.

    Feel free to let – Your Name - Pop-up there also.

    All the Best,
    To your Happy - Home Business - Inspiration,
    HP