How to Tap Into Your Audiences Emotions With Your Stories
Last week you read about the first step of Michael Hauge’s process – the Setup in your stories. This process is highlighted in great detail in Michael’s Book ‘Storytelling Made Easy.’
Today, you’ll pick up the second step – the Crisis. This word is sometimes misunderstood. A crisis doesn’t have to be life-threatening. The word often evokes scenes like Indiana Jones running from a boulder or dropped into a pit of snakes. However, these can be moments that each of us has faced. Finacial loss. Threatening weather. An emotional reaction to an uncomfortable situation.
The key to this aspect is that it develops an emotional reaction from your audience. It should create questions in the audience that get them leaning forward, waiting for what happens next.
Create Uncertainty for the Listener
In my story ‘Full Throttle’ I’m driving a real Indianapolis race car on a real race track. And it’s not going well. Many messages flash through my head as I try to drive the car faster. The fear-based messages from my childhood. The admonition of the instructor to “not do anything stupid.’ The intimidation of other cars around my whizzing by at breakneck speeds.
The ‘crisis’ in this event is the moment I realize that I’ve been waiting 41 years for this experience. And I’m blowing my chance to enjoy it as much as possible. Time is running out, and I’m struggling to push past my fears and push down harder on the gas pedal. If I do, I’ll be at risk of an accident. If I don’t, I risk the regret of not fully experiencing the event.
The Impact of Deeper Conflict in Your Stories
There is a deeper meaning for the crisis moment than showing an external struggle. The importance of this scene is to uncover the internal struggle of a character. To put her in a position where she has to make a decision that will change her life in some way.
In Star Wars, Luke’s crisis moment is when he discovers the bodies of his aunt and uncle. Up to that point, he’s afraid to join the Rebellion against the Evil Empire. Now without a family, his crisis moment is re-thinking his decision to join the fight.
How Commercials Tap Into Crisis in Stories
This same experience occurs in commercials and ads. Consider a well-known TV ad from the 1980’s. The tire company Michelin shows a picture of a baby sitting in a tire. Next to that are the words:
‘Michelin. Because so much is riding on your tires.’
What is the ‘crisis’ in this ad?
It’s the question created in the mind of the reader. ‘Do I have the best and safest tires to protect my family?’
This is subtle and brilliant. It uses an emotional image of a baby to invoke a question. It creates a potential crisis that the reader sees in his mind. This motivates him to consider Michelin tires as a solution to his problem.
How Your Stories Can Create a Bond With Audiences
When your main character faces a crisis, you put her in a position that creates empathy with the audience. It makes her human and vulnerable. This is the connection that people often talk about. Without this bond to the character, the audience won’t care and they’ll check-out of your story.
You have set up to your story and put your character in a difficult situation. Now you’re ready for the third step of Michael’s formula.
And you’ll read about that next week.
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