Improve Your Storytelling with the Word “But”

8 years, 1 month ago - March 08, 2013
Telling a story is the most powerful way to activate our brains. If you want to become a better storyteller, UCLA Film School Howard Suber says you should keep in mind the word "but" and the theme that "things are not what they seem."

In an interview with Barking Up The Wrong Tree's Eric Barker, Suber says all great stories have the word "but":

Which is to say inexperienced or poor storytellers structure their material with the words "and" or "then." So "They did this, and then they did that, and then they did this, and then they did that," which produces an episodic structure that doesn't build on anything, and there's no relationship between what came before and what came after.

Focusing on "but" rather than "and" when telling a story leads you to add a surprise or twist:

So Michael Corleone is a cold-blooded murderer, but he does it for his family. Rick Blaine sticks his neck out for nobody, as he tells you three times, but then he does, and sacrifices the only thing he's ever really loved for the cause. [...] It's precisely the fact that things are not what they seem that makes a story interesting.

 

Text by Lifehacker

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