The Importance of Story


I haven’t finished reading The Story Factor yet, but the tales within have haunted my mind for several years.  No, not ghost stories, but stories that elevate the reading experience into the art of persuasion and learning.

Book cover, The Story Factor

The Story Factor, by Annette Simmons

It was in The Story Factor that I first heard the Jewish Teaching Story about how when Truth goes running around bare and cold, people reject her.  But when Truth is taken in by the kindly Parable and dressed up in Story, she is welcomed by all. What an emotional image for me!

I bought this book originally for improving my skills in marketing. I think I stumbled across it on a business bookshelf in my local bookstore.  It was such an unusual title, nestled in amongst things like “151 Quick Ideas to Get New Customers,” “Marketing on a Shoestring,” and “Marketing Warfare,” that I thought maybe it was on the shelf by mistake. There it sat with no real graphics shouting out in multiple colors amongst all sorts of eye-catching layouts; a quiet book in dark burgundy that stood out for all its shyness on the shelf.

But inside there are tales of business success and ways to make a point without beating someone over the head with it. Here Ms. Simmons shows how story is a two-way street, with both the teller and the listener engaged to make a better ending than either one alone will do:

“Story doesn’t grab power. Story creates power,” says Simmons. “You do not need a position of formal leadership when you know the power of story.  Like the sword of Excalibur, story conjures a magical power that does not need formal authority to work.”

Now, Simmons is a verbal story teller, but I believe there is much to learn when it comes to writing stories as well.  She doesn’t go into the formal “story arch” or “character development,” but just shows us the power that storytelling brings to business and personal relationships.  If we apply her logic in our own writing I believe we will find gold.

Title: The Story Factor – Secrets of Influence from the Art of Storytelling
Author: Annette Simmons
Pages: 254
Publisher: Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group, New York

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