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
- In the beginning we learn about the protagonist’s (hero’s) desire to achieve a certain goal.
- Facing powerful antagonistic forces, our hero initially descends into a “hole” with seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?