Story Time

As we pass the Hanukkah and Christmas season, stories associated with each are bright in our memory. Hanukkah has relatively minor religious significance in the Jewish faith, but by employing a symbol (menorah) and the miracle of the oil lasting eight nights in the temple, Hanukkah has become the most widely known and celebrated Jewish holiday.

What about Christmas? The star in the east, three wise men on a journey, and a lowly manger all lift the story into more than its component parts. Even small children know and repeat these important cultural narratives.

On a recent BBC program called The Life Scientific, anthropologist Alice Roberts was asked if narrative was important in science. Roberts responded, "Yes, good narrative is about assembling ideas in a way that makes sense. She noted that Charles Darwin read his scholarly paper on evolution in 1858 to the Linnaean Society, but made no impression.

However, when Darwin's book On the Origin of Species appeared the next year, the general readership-- as well as scientists regarded it as a breakthrough in science. Parts of the book were written in a colorful narrative style with stories, unusual in serious scientific books, which broadened his audience, his appeal, and his reputation.

To broaden your audience and make your ideas stick, use universal narrative tools, including a visual symbol imbued with meaning; theme; challenges and overcoming them; a hero battling an antagonist; and a positive outcome. These elements will make your story unforgettable. "I'm dreaming of a..."

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