The Three Rules of Storytelling
Purpose, truth, action.
When writers really want to emphasize something, they put it in a one sentence paragraph. If they suspect even that is not emphasis enough, then they go to Plan B: break things up into still more melodramatic, one-word paragraphs.
All good storytelling coheres around those three ideas. They are the three criteria, taken together, by which we judge the workability and ultimate success of our story. With those three principles in your pocket, you can summon your best story to live. You are virtually guaranteed to keep your story vital, moving, productive, fulfilling.
Let us review them:
What is my ultimate purpose? What am I living for? What principle, what goal, what end? For my whole life, and every single day? Why do I do what I do? For what? What is the thing that would get me to be fully engaged, and to be sure and at peace that it is the right decision, the necessary one, the only one? What is the thing I am driving toward – or should be – with every action I take? Have I articulated to myself my deepest values and beliefs, which are the bedrock of who I am and which must be inextricably tied to my purpose (and vice versa)? Who do I want to be at the end? What legacy do I want to leave? What epitath about myself could ‘I live with’? When all is said is done, how do I want to be remembered? What is non- negotiable in my life? What do I believe must happen for me to have lived a successful life? Is my story taking me where I want to go? Is it “on – purpose”? Consistently? And why am I telling this story? What is the real motive? Is my purpose noble or ignoble?
Is the story I am telling true? Does it conform to known facts? Is it grounded in objective reality as fully as possible; that is, does it coincide with some generally agreed-upon portrayal of the world? Or is it true only if I’m living in a dreamland? Is it a lie I tell myself when I think, ‘This is the way the world is’ – my own, probably biased evaluation of things, one that is dubiously defensible, and which I repeat to myself because it provides false comfort for the way my life has turned out? Do I sidestep the parts of my story that are obviously untrue because they are just too painful to confront? Is my story I still believe when I really dig down, when I listen to my most candid, private voice, when I do my best to shut out other influences and hear instead what I genuinely think and feel? Which is the truer statement: My story is honest and authentic or My story is made up? Is my story closer to a documentary or a work of fantasy? What myths am I perpetuating that could potentially steal my fate in areas of my life that really matter?
A good story is premised on action … is it mine? With my purpose firmly in mind, along with a confidence about what is really true, what actions will I now take to make things better, so that my ultimate purpose and my day-to-day life are better aligned? What habits do I need to eliminate? What new ones do I need to breed? Is more of my life spent participating or observing? Are my actions filled with hope – hope that I will succeed, hope that the change I seek is realistically within my grasp? Or is my ‘action-taking’ really more accurately portrayed as ‘going through the motions’? Do I believe to my core that, in the end, my willingness to follow through with action will determine the success of my life? Do I believe that if I act with commitment and consistency I will end up where I want to be, where I have always felt I am capable of being? Does the story I tell myself move me to action? Does it inspire hope and determination in me? Am I confident that I can make any necessary course correction, no matter what stage of life I am in, no matter how many times I may have failed at it in the past? Do I proceed in the belief that I will never surrender in this effort because my happiness and success as a human being is what is at stake?
One must hold one’s story up as if against a three – part checklist: your story must have purpose (can you name it?), your story must be true (is it?), your story must lead to hope-filled action (does it?).
When a hero achieves a breakthrough, it is always – always – because he or she has come to a fundamental understanding of the interlocked nature of all three rules of storytelling. It is nog good enough to satisfy one or even two of the three rules and content yourself that your story has now improved; it will not leave you 33% better off or 67% better off. More likely, you may have fulfilled one or even two of the three rules but because all three rules are not followed, your story remains dysfunctional.
While one needs to understand deeply each of the three rules of storytelling, not all rules are created equally. Truth and action probably give people more trouble than purpose. For example, what about those people who have purpose nailed…. but not action? This is probably the most common of the permutations, and in some ways the most tragic. In this group you find the novelists who have yet to set pen to paper, lovers who are single and celibate, entrepreneurs who don’t know the first thing about how to attract customers.
What Can I Expect?
Here’s an outline of the THE POWER OF YOUR STORY journey.
- The Power of Your Story
- What is your Story?
- Your Hero’s Journey
- How Faithful Are You as Storyteller?
- Is this Really Your Story?
- The Private Voice
YOUR NEW STORY
- A Quest is Never Forgettable
- They Lived Happily Ever After?
- The Three Rules of Storytelling
- The Four Story Scenario’s
- They Lived Happily Ever After!
- Do You Have the Resources to Live Your Best Story?
- Indoctrinate Yourself
- The Story Effect
- Your New Story
- The Premise of your Story. The Purpose of your Life and Art
- The words on your tombstone
- You ultimate mission, out loud
- Questioning the Premise
- Lining up
- Flawed Alignment, Tragic Ending
TURNING STORY INTO ACTION
- Turning your story into action
- Story Ritualizing
- The Storyteller and the art of story
- The Power of Your Story
- Storyboarding your creative process
- They Created and Lived Happily Ever After
About Peter de Kuster
Peter de Kuster is the founder of The Heroine’s Journey & Hero’s Journey project, a storytelling firm which helps creative professionals to create careers and lives based on whatever story is most integral to their lives and careers (values, traits, skills and experiences). Peter’s approach combines in-depth storytelling and marketing expertise, and for over 20 years clients have found it effective with a wide range of creative business issues.
Peter is writer of the series The Heroine’s Journey and Hero’s Journey books, he has an MBA in Marketing, MBA in Financial Economics and graduated at university in Sociology and Communication Sciences.
IS THE HERO’S JOURNEY FOR YOU?
- You are a creative professional who is interested in developing yourself and your creative business.
- You are aware that there are no quick fixes. Learning is a journey that works when you are fully committed to it. A guide like Peter de Kuster can bring awareness and help you navigate, but in the end it’s you who is in charge of your growth.
- You want to learn more about how to tell yourself a more powerful story, learn about blind spots, and get feedback.
- You are curious and want to engage in an interactive learning journey with Peter de Kuster.
- You are motivated to work in-between journeys on yourself (e.g. working on questions that will help you develop new storytelling, mindsets, skills, and behaviors).
WHAT’S YOUR QUEST-ION?
The Hero’s Journey is all about your development. To make the most out of your journey with Peter, we ask you to prepare topics to work on with him. These topics can serve as a starting point for further in-depth exploration.
Three Day Journey in Rome for EUR 2,950 (excl. VAT)
BOOK THE HERO’S JOURNEY
Who can sign up for The Hero’s Journey?
Creative professionals who wish to improve their storytelling, mindset(s) and develop their leadership skills.
What language do we speak in the journey?
Can I bring my own topics?
Yes, you get to choose your own topic.
Are journeys confidential?
Yes. Peter will not share anything that is discussed in the journey.
Where will the journeys take place?
Sessions will take place travelling with Peter a world city like Paris, Rome, Florence, Barcelona, Amsterdam, London, Antwerp, Venice, New York, Berlin, Madrid.
How do I sign up?
Send Peter an email to email@example.com
How do I pay?
After you booked The Hero’s Journey by sending an email to Peter you will receive an email with info how to pay.
How do I book and reschedule a journey?
Once we’ve received your payment, our Program Coordinator will book your journey. She will also support you with rescheduling journeys if needed.
What is your cancellation policy?
Individual journeys can be postponed up to one week before the journey.