No Conflict, No Story

 In Blog

by Randy Lane

“Without conflict, you don’t have a story. You have a reality show. A story begins with conflict.”  Writer Jeff Goins’ blog has several salient points on storytelling that apply to both your show and your life.

We strongly recommend that you start stories on-air by answering the question, “What’s at risk or what’s at stake?” If you can’t answer that question, you don’t have a story that will engage the audience and you don’t have a hook headline. Hook headlines are crucial to immediately engage listeners, and they always contain conflict. For example: “Tell me if this makes me a bad parent?”

Without conflict you may have an interesting observation but you don’t have a story that will stick with people or touch them emotionally. As Goins points out, “It all comes down to a moment. When Harry Potter finds out he’s a wizard. When Katniss steps in to die for her sister. That’s when a story really begins – when things start to get uncomfortable. Screenwriters call this catalytic moment an ‘inciting incident’.”

Inner conflicts or dilemmas almost always make us feel uncomfortable, yet bringing these types of personal stories to your show builds character depth. Chris Ebbott, PD Virgin/Toronto, echoed this point recently to the Virgin Breakfast Show, “If something in your life makes you feel uncomfortable then that’s probably something you want to talk about on the show.”

Every great radio show, TV show, movie, book, and comedy incorporates conflict. Most of the entertainment arises out of the conflict. So mine your personal life for stories that contain conflict and use hook headlines to engage people immediately. Your show will improve… and your friends won’t nod off during a story at your next dinner party.

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