Three phases of creating a great story

This month I’ve been collaborating with clients who need to craft their story from scratch, or from a draft that’s not working. Once we get our hands on it, there are 3 phases we go through that get us from scratching our heads to “yes! We got it! That’s the story that works!” 

They are:

  • Expand
  • Contract
  • Refine

Expand- In this phase, we’re looking at a draft, sharing ideas and not killing any of them. We’re asking questions and answering them lots of different ways. It all goes into the outline, it goes on the table so we can see it, arrange it and rearrange it. This is the time when we know it’s going to get too big. That’s ok, we’re in Expansion. And we trust that we will naturally move into the next phase

Contract- This is when we start to recognize that all the possible inventory we can use for the story is present. This is when we start sorting what stays in and what gets tossed.  And it begins to get smaller, more organized, more connected and it comes alive. This is when it gets fun.

Refine- Now we’ve got the shape.  We KNOW what the story is and we can start to refine the examples we’ll draw on, the turns of phrases that work and it takes on not just life but a specific voice. This is where we get to grapple with “do I say this? Or do I say that?” This is where you make it yours in a way that is recognizably you. These are usually courageous choices. Ones we couldn’t have gotten to without first expanding and contracting.  

When you go to write your next story for a crucial communication- let yourself expand before you contract. And let yourself refine only after you’ve put it all on the table and weeded out what works.  When we let ourselves work with this flow, we see more and end up with less but the right things that make your story the most compelling it can be.  

When I let myself expand, contract and THEN refine, 
I trust content to support me

And that is one of the most powerful gifts you can give yourself when you’re heading into a crucial communication. 

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