We all love a good story, don’t we? There is nothing more empowering and engaging than a brilliantly narrated tale. Just imagine a life where we hadn’t heard of Snow White and the seven dwarfs; Harry Potter and his magical exploits; Romeo and Juliet, or Sherlock Holmes. What a sad life it would be!

A good story is like a happy memory, one we want to cling on to and revisit from time to time. It transports us to another world, connects us to the characters, tugs at our emotions, teaches us a lesson or two and leaves us with a mixed bag of emotions at the end.

The Importance Of Plot

This power of storytelling has been well understood by novelists, playwrights and filmmakers since time immemorial. Their stories often follow a basic plot structure: the protagonist’s humdrum life is thrown out of gear by unforeseen challenges, it’s a life of struggle and hardships for the protagonist, and finally, he or she overcomes all this to emerge victorious.

This simple plot structure allows readers to connect and empathize with the protagonist. It’s a testimony to powerful storytelling that even after decades, the audience connects so strongly with the characters, reveling in their victories and despairing in their struggles. Think of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Charles Dickens’ Pip in Great Expectations. Satyajit Ray’s Apu in The Apu Trilogy. Great storytellers and their stories always stand the test of time.

The SCQR Framework

Harappa’s Writing Proficiently course has a framework inspired by the format writers use to craft a compelling story. You can use this framework to structure not only fictional stories, but also written communication at the workplace. The Situation, Complication, Question and Resolution (SCQR) Framework is recommended for structuring your ideas when you are writing a report, making a presentation, or even explaining how you solved a problem.

You can use it to structure your ideas or arguments in this manner:

  1. Situation: Explain the situation by giving the context

  2. Complication: Describe the change in the situation that led to a problem which needs to be solved or a decision that needs to be made

  3. Question: Ask a question about the problem that needs to be solved or the decision which needs to be made

  4. Resolution: Describe how the question was answered or can be answered

The SCQR Framework helps you keep your readers engaged by shifting focus to the important parts of your story and strengthening your arguments.

Why Do We Need Stories?

The need for stories, especially good ones, is universal. Robert McKee, an award-winning writer and director, wrote in his bestselling book, Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting, “Stories fulfill a profound human need to grasp the patterns of living—not merely as an intellectual exercise, but within a very personal, emotional experience.”

Walt Disney, the master storyteller, mined this knowledge of telling great stories that not only entertain but help to understand and reflect on real-world issues. Perhaps that explains why his animations continue to delight audiences.

Today, the corporate world has realized the power of effective storytelling. It makes more sense to convey data and statistics through a story—that of an individual always works best—instead of using a boring, fact-heavy PowerPoint presentation. Give a client a good story, one that follows the SCQR Framework, and see how quickly they buy into your sales pitch!

Stories have the ability to persuade people—from convincing them to buying a particular product to changing their behaviors. Ad filmmakers have been weaving narratives around brands and nudging people to buy their products. Remember Surf Excel’s Daag Acche Hain or Cadbury’s Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye brand campaigns?

As long as there are good stories to tell and sell, this world will be a good place to live in.

Meenakshi Kumar is a consultant at Harappa Education. A former journalist, she is now discovering an entire new world of good habits. 

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