Universal Stories

Universal Stories

What is the Universal Stories story tactic?

Build your story on solid foundations. Use elements that everyone will recognise.

Humans are wonderfully diverse, but we have more in common than sets us apart. Every society, anywhere in the world and at any point in history, shares certain basic habits and ways of thinking. These universal traits come up time and again in the stories we tell. They are reliable building blocks for your story too.

Tip: try this tactic alongside Good & Evil.

How to use the Universal Stories story tactic

Can you tell a story about people involved in your project, based on any of these common traits?

  1. Free Will: we see ourselves and other people as free-willed individuals, making deliberate choices. (see Trust Me, I'm an Expert)

  2. Conflict and Cooperation: everyone is capable of both. We can choose either. (see Three Great Conflicts)

  3. Inconsistencies: we all have gaps between what we do, say and think. (see also Abstractions)

  4. Fear and Bravery: we all understand that fears can be overcome. (see The Dragon & the City)

  5. Right and Wrong: we all understand the difference. We expect fairness and judgement from our peers. (see Rules, Cheats & Rebels)

  6. Rites of Passage: all cultures have childhood, adolescent and adult phases of life. Perhaps you are helping your user or customer grow up in some way? (see Happy Ever Afters)

Credit: D.Brown, Human Universals.

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