Write short, write sharp, take the hero’s journey.
The best marketing campaigns start with a great story. Whether you are in communications, advertising, brand management, or just looking to improve your career, story telling is an important skill. As marketers, our job is to get our audience to care.
In January, we invited local writer and journalism professor Mary-Kate Mackey to talk about the hero’s journey. The hero’s journey is a model for writing that makes your story feel complete and compelling. Mary-Kate Mackey laid out ten essential steps. While there are a handful of variations on this model, we loved Mackey’s approach.
Mary-Kate Mackey is the author of Write Better Right Now: The Reluctant Writer’s Guide to Confident Communication and Self-Assured Style. She’s written books and articles for Sunset Magazine, Fine Gardening, and Horticulture. After teaching at University of Oregon’s school of journalism, Mackey now gives talks and teaches workshops around the country.
So, here are the ten steps in a hero’s journey according to Mackey:
Step One: The hero confronts a challenge.
Gandalf knocking on Bilbo Baggins’ door is a good example of a hero’s challenge.
Step Two: Turns it down.
The hero doesn’t always reject the challenge. Harry Potter’s relatives keep him from opening his invitation to Hogwarts.
Step Three: Accepts challenge.
Luke Skywalker decides to travel with Obi Wan Kenobi.
Step Four: Gathers allies and mentors.
Effie and Haymitch groom Katniss after she volunteers for the Hunger Games.
Step Five: Learns new skills.
Elle Woods studies law and earns her keep at Harvard. (Mackey used Legally Blonde as an example throughout her talk, much to our delight!)
Step Six: Suffers some defeat.
The six fingered man captures Wesley during his first attempt to save Buttercup.
Step Seven: A dark hour of the soul.
Stitch realizes he is alone and Lilo is taken away.
Step Eight: Takes a leap of faith.
Simba decides to listen to Mufasa’s ghost and return to the pride lands.
Step Nine: Meets challenge and wins.
Ana sacrifices herself to save Elsa, which is revealed to be an act of true love and breaks the spell upon her.
Step ten: Returns home as a teacher/mentor.
Elizabeth Bennett marries Mr. Darcy and models the happy marriage the Bennett daughters had hoped for.
Afterwards, Mackey led us through an interviewing exercise to help apply the model. In addition to honing our skills, we got to get to know our fellow attendees.
We would love you to share your experiences with story telling. Do you agree with Mackey’s model? Join the discussion on Facebook. Also, don’t miss our next event on February 8th! We Just Watch it for the Ads: A Merketer’s Superbowl Review. Register now!