I love stories. As a little girl I would lose myself in books. One minute I’d be walking along the railway tracks in the early 20th century with Bobby, Peter and Phil, and the next I’d be sat in a bedroom in Connecticut, as part of the Babysitter’s Club. Or I’d be cycling up hills in Yorkshire rescuing animals and taking them to Animal Ark, followed by a trip to a chocolate factory with Charlie and his granddad.
And this love of stories didn’t fade as I got older. Not only did I start writing my own, but I also found myself working in an industry that is slowly waking up to the transformational power of storytelling.
Humans have been storytelling for thousands of years, however it was often confined to the minds of frustrated, penniless novelists and mothers trying to lull their children to sleep.
Not anymore. Big brands are using it to great effect. Take the current DFS advert. They’re not just telling you about the great sofas they have available, they’re showing you real people in the workshops with the skills and enthusiasm to ensure your sofa will arrive before Christmas.
And newspapers and journalists aren’t just delivering the facts, they’re telling us stories of unaccompanied child refugees making their way across Europe and families torn apart by the war in Syria.
I’m not telling you anything new, but it does take some skill to tell a really good story and to identify what one is in the first place. How confident are we as communicators that we can find the story at the heart of the corporate world?
A wooden fence surrounded the junkyard, separating the scrap metal from the small red cabin with the vast desert stretching out behind it. One of the lower beams, bowed slightly under Avery’s weight, her head resting on her folded arms atop one of the higher beams. Her pale face was flecked with freckles and framed by a blunt fringe, damp with sweat and stuck to her forehead. Two straggly yellow plaits tied with blue ribbon that matched her pinafore dress, sat limply on her shoulders.
Her momma had always kept a box of ribbons under her bed, which Avery liked nothing more than to rummage through, draping herself in the brilliant red, blue, green, yellow and orange silks. Her daddy had often joked that her momma’s ribbon collection would be the envy of souk merchants across the Middle East.
At the time, Avery had thought her daddy was referring to the middle east of America, and begged him to take her, surmising it would be a day’s drive at the most. He’d laughed and told her she might need to find a magic carpet to get to the deserts of North Africa in a day.