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Practice Makes Practice (2 of 3): Shaping Stories

In Part 1 of our Practice Makes Practices series we outlined a quick and easy way (as long as you practice) to find stories using the With 1 Word® Methodology. 


Today we’ll dive into how to take that awesome story you found and make it “slap” by shaping it.

Without some way to structure our stories it’s easy to wander, talk longer than people are interested, and just leave the story out there without bringing it to conclusion.

No matter if you are  right-brained or left-brained this shaping process, that puts the listener first, can work for you. For you left brained folks, it should speak to you since it’s a formula.  For us right-brained folks it works as it’s all additional.  And the beauty is, since it is addition, these elements can be put in any order.  

Drum roll please here is the formula:


You may be thinking, hey, I’ve seen this before, and you are correct, this formula is many times used for answering interview questions. We thought why not take something that is known and familiar and repurpose it.  You’re welcome. 😀

Now grab that rough version of the awesome story you found playing With 1 Word and let's apply the following:

S = Situation 

  • Where in the world are you?

  • Anchor your listener by giving them a location either geographically or a known location like a school, church, bank, convention center. This will engage their mind’s eye creating a place whereby the listener can see themselves in your story.  

  • What is happening?

  • This setup is necessary to give context to what is about to happen when you get to the action portion of the story.

  • The challenge here is to give enough detail without giving unnecessary information. 

  • Who is there?

  • Bring the characters in your story to life by providing names and descriptions . For example “My Uncle Tony, who is tall and lean like a goal post…” 

A = Action

  • The action is what all other elements are built around. The action is THE moment in time when something happens. Without “action” it’s not really a story (it becomes a description, a laundry list of events, a pontification).  

R = Resolution:

  • This is the outcome as a result of the Action. 

  • Without providing resolution you leave your audience hanging.  If you are putting your audience first that’s not a very nice thing to do.  

M = Message/Meaning or Modification 

  • Message/Meaning:  What separates us from the animals, besides our ability to accessorize, is our ability to add meaning to our experiences. The question you need to ask yourself as you reflect on this story is, what does the experience mean to me today? 

  • Modification: As a result of this experience did you modify your behavior, a thought process, a way of moving through the world, If so then share that with your audience.

  • Here are some ideas for how to tee up your message: 

  • I believe that…

  • What I know to be true is …

  • What I learned…

  • If you are anything like me…

Are you wondering how practice comes into this?  Now that you’ve shaped your story one way, practice shaping it another.  Try out a different meaning, bring in a different character, explain the situation a different way, or shape the story in a different order. 

Great stories have been shaped, shared, reshaped, reshared over and over again, it what gets them to great.

Make sure to come back for the last part of this series where we'll chat about the practice of Sharing.

At Articulated Intelligence we’re happy to be your guide as you mold and shape your story.  Reach out, we’ll help get your stories in shape.  


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