Pip Decks

Story Hooks

From Episode 14 of the weekly Storyteller Tactics episodes

Each week we release a new story and two Storyteller Tactics cards from the deck, launching on Kickstarter later this year.

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What is the Story Hooks tactic?

Got a good story? Great, but why is nobody listening?

You might have the best story in the world, but it's no use if you can't get people to listen, to click on the link or open the email. You need a hook: something that makes us want to find out more. Shall I let you into the secret?

Tip: use this tactic once you've got a good idea of the story you're telling.

How to use Story Hooks

I looked through 1,000+ TED talks to see how they use titles to hook their audience's attention. I spotted some themes: I call them TED's QUIRKS. How many could you use to hook us into your project story?

Recap the main elements of your project. Now ask people to take turns applying each hook to an aspect of your project.

  • Questions: What happens when you ask a question at the start of a story? People stick around to hear the answer.

    Story hook: can you turn your project into a Big Question?

  • Useful: Nothing says "this is worth reading" more than a helpful "How..." Likewise, habits, rules and life hacks.

    Story hook: show your reader immediate usefulness.

  • Ironies: If something ain't what it should be, we pay attention. TED's top talk "Schools kill creativity" reeks of irony.

    Story hook: tell us the opposite of what we expect.

  • Relatable: Writing about You, We and Us makes your reader feel more involved. "Is this you in this video?" is a guaranteed attention hook (and classic phishing con)

    Story hook: make it sound personal.

  • Knowledge: Your expertise, made simple.

    Story hook: use words like shows, reveals and explains, as they all suggest new info is coming. "Secrets" are even better, they suggest insider knowledge.

  • Superlatives: Biggest, fastest, newest all inspire wonder; while smallest, slowest, oldest provoke curiosity.

    Story hook: connect to something bigger, better or more exciting.


🤔 Confused? Enlightened?

Let us know! We are still developing Storyteller Tactics. Drop us an email with your feedback. We reply to every single one.

- Charles & Steve.

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