“The purpose of story is to elicit emotion” 

~ Michael Hague, author and Hollywood screenwriting consultant

Stories that have survived for centuries, best-selling movies and books, and viral YouTube/Instagram/TikTok videos each have one common characteristic – they include 5 key elements, or Universal Storytelling Laws, which enable them to stick in the minds and hearts of listeners.

Want your next story to “stick?” 

Include these 5 elements

The Law of Relatable Characters 

The Main Character in your story (Often called the “hero” or “protagonist”) must be relatable to your listener. 

According to Michael Hauge, there are three ways to create this connection:

One, your Main Character must be LIKEABLE. If he is a jerk, people won’t care if he succeeds. They might root against him.

Two, your Main Character is SYMPATHETIC. This individual is enduring some type of undeserved circumstance (health problem, natural disaster, abusive relationship) out of her control.

Three, your Main Character is in JEOPARDY, either physically or emotionally (health risk, financial risk, physical risk).

If your Main Character doesn’t exhibit at least one of these, the listener will not connect with her and lose interest. 

The Law of Inspiring Goals

An inspiring and relatable Goal will create listener interest in your Main Character’s success. 

The keys to this element are to make it specific and give it a deadline.

If a financial planner tells the story of a client who is “hoping to create an investment account so that someday so he and his wife can spend time traveling.” 

How engaged are you?

What if instead, the planner tells you about a client who wants to “invest enough money so that in 5 years he and his wife can celebrate their 40th anniversary in the same church in Italy where their parents and grandparents were married, surrounded by family.” 

Do you experience a different feeling?

Specific goals with a deadline create connection with, and a rooting interest for, your Main Character’s success.

The Law of Conflict  

There once was a beautiful princess.

She met a handsome prince.

They had a whirlwind romance.

They fell in love.

They got married.

They lived happily ever after.

Is this a good story? 

Is it even a story?

Not if you run it through the filter of these 5 Universal Laws. It’s a fairy tale. And there’s a reason children fall asleep at night after hearing it.

There’s no mystery, no conflict, and nothing to resolve. It’s a series of facts. 

The source of emotion in stories is conflict. Without it, no one cares.

We can begin to transform our fairy tale into a story by introducing one sentence…

There once was a beautiful princess.

She met a handsome prince.

They had a whirlwind romance.

They fell in love.

They got married.

They lived happily ever after.

BUT, then there was an abduction.

What just happened in your brain? 

It became curious, didn’t it?

It wants to know:

Who was abducted?

Why was the person abducted?

Who did the abducting?

Was there a rescue attempt?

What were the results of the rescue attempt?

When you create conflict, you engage the brains of your listeners. They’re curious and want to see how the story ends.

The Law of Success  

When you’ve introduced a compelling character, shared a specific goal, and taken the listener through the journey filled with conflict, there must be a payoff. You have to show them the moment of success.

If you leave this out, at the very least you will annoy them. They might even become angry.

Have you ever enjoyed watching a tightly contested sporting event but, for some reason didn’t get to see the end?

Your mind couldn’t rest easy until it knew the outcome, could it?

Or maybe you’ve started reading a book which kept you so interested with curiosity you stayed up half the night reading it.


Because you needed to know if the main character succeeded.

This is why you need to include the moment of success in your story. 

This moment is why a specific goal is vital to your narrative. In the earlier example of the man who wants to take his wife to the church in Italy, the reader knows the goal has been reached the moment she sees the man and his wife in the church surrounded by their family.

Until that specific moment, there will be tension because we won’t know if the character we are rooting for will achieve his goal.

If your listeners have stuck with you from the start of your story until this point, you owe it to them to share the moment of success.

The Law of the New Life 

This is a key element in business stories that most people omit.

Simply showing the moment of success does not provide evidence the Main Character has transformed. 

At their core, all memorable and meaningful stories are about the transformation of the Main Character.

The New Life is evidence your character has experienced a shift in attitude or belief beyond experiencing one moment of success.

One of my signature stories highlights the transformation of my client Patti. When I met her, she was sick to her stomach and losing sleep because she had to give a critical speech for her foundation.

By the end of her story, she has not only succeeded, but she is also an enthusiastic presenter who consistently looks for opportunities to give speeches. She has undergone a radical transformation.

In business stories, this new life should be the same result your prospective clients or customers are also looking for.

Give info and memorable stories can have a significant impact on your business. Employ these five universal laws and you’ll significantly increase your level of impact and influence.

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5 Universal Laws to Ensure Your Stories Engage Listeners Minds ultima modifica: 2021-12-27T08:33:08-05:00 da Michael Davis