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Elements of a Great Story

Everyone loves a great story, but did you know that there's a simple forumla for telling a great story? It's true! The elements of a timeless, successful story are:

  1. The story should begin "Once upon a time…"
  2. The story should involve a bear or bears
  3. The story should end "…lived happily ever after"

The first and third elements are familiar to everyone. The second is perhaps less obvious, but makes sense when you think about it. Great stories are about bears! Goldilocks leaps to mind, and … and … gosh, wasn't Goldilocks a great story?

The shortest great story is therefore simply:

Once upon a time, there was a bear, who lived happily ever after.

Brilliant, isn't it?

The three elements are easily adapted to any storytelling setting. Here's an example of applying the elements to your story about why you were late for work.

Original version:

I was late because there was a terrible traffic accident. Someone probably died.

That is grim and not at all pleasing. No one wants to tell or hear a story like that! Now here's the same story with the Three Elements applied:

Once upon a time, I was driving to work this morning. I was late because there was a terrible traffic accident. Someone probably died, but I lived happily ever after.

P.S., there was a bear.

Much better! This conveys the same information but with a playful, easy-going tone that makes everyone a little happier. That's the kind of story that people love to tell and hear.


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