How to Increase Emotional Connection in Your Story
In the last post, you read about the six story telling steps. These were created by Hollywood script consultant Michael Hauge. The first two are: Introduction of your hero and the circumstances that person faces.
In this post you’ll pick up ideas about the third and fourth steps:
Desire and Conflict in Your Story
The Desire step involves a goal or outcome that the hero wants to realize. For your story to connect with your listeners, this must be a desire that they also have. For instance, imagine you’re a financial advisor. Your character can be a female client, Susan. Her main goal is to send her daughter to a prestigious college.
Your character might not be aware of her main desire at the beginning of the story. Susan might not be thinking about other financial issues like retirement planning, insurance protection or tax planning. She believes her main goal is to pay those college expenses.
Then the planner conducts a thorough examination of Susan’s financial picture. He informs her that she may have a problem, if she stays on her current path. Her daughter can only go to a prestigious school if Susan is willing to take money from her retirement plan. This creates conflict in the story.
A Relatable Conflict
When she first met with the planner, she may have felt that her retirement wasn’t even a concern. She wanted to know the available options to educate her daughter. The conflict arises because Susan has to re-think her plan. She may have to make major changes.
This is stressful. Does she give more attention to the college planning, or her own retirement? Susan is in a type of distress until these questions are answered.
This emotion is relatable to the listener because everyone has faced financial difficulty. They’ve had to make choices and change plans.
The Key to Creating Emotion in Your Conflict
A key to the conflict step of the story is that it must escalate. If you introduce a problem, but it never gets worse, the story doesn’t have impact. The tension needs to rise until their is resolution of the conflict
The financial planner could describe the increasing stress Susan felt. She struggled with changing her budget and lifestyle. She had to reconsider the type of school her daughter could attend. She had to re-evaluate her retirement dreams. Again, these are relatable experiences.
One of my coaches, Craig Valentine, uses an appropriate metaphor to describe this part of your story. In the movie Titanic, the story became more interesting after the ship struck the iceberg. When the water levels within the ship started rising, the tension increased. The threat to each character became greater as the water rose.
Why You Need Desire and Conflict
The desire and conflict parts of the story are critical. They set up parts five and six — the climax and aftermath. Without creating compelling ‘drama’ the audience will lose interest. They might not care about your character by the time you reach these final two parts.
Create an emotional hook through desire and conflict. You’ll have people on the edge-of-their-seats. They’ll be hungry to hear the conclusion of your story.
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