by Tracy Johnson
Cinderella is a wonderful story, but the beauty is in the way Disney tells it. It’s a combination of imagination, exaggeration and well-constructed details that bring a story to life. Radio personalities can learn many valuable lessons from the story. I call the technique Cinderella Storytelling.
The story is about a young girl who lives with her stepmother and stepsisters. Though she’s treated poorly, she maintains a great attitude. Her fairy godmother rewards her, she becomes a Princess and lives happily ever after. It’s classic rags to riches story.
Now, imagine the story if told by a typical air personality. With limited time, and in the interest of eliminating anything that doesn’t have to be there because that’s what works in PPM, it would probably sound like this:
So there’s this Prince that’s looking to hook up, and the King throws a huge party so he can find a wife. There’s wine and food and dancing and an awesome band, and everyone wants to be there because it is all that.
Then a hot girl shows up and they fall in love. But as the party is rockin’, it gets late, and her ride turns into a pumpkin, and the Prince can’t find the girl. But he does find one of her shoes. Shoes are awesome. I have like 200 pairs. Pumps are my favorite. Anyway, he goes from house to house to find her by having girls try on the shoe.
After awhile, the Prince finds her and makes her his Princess. And they live happily ever after. Happy ending. I love it. How romantic. What’s your story about falling in love? Call us at (phone number).
Notice what happened here? This break is about events, information and facts. It leaves out details and emotional descriptions that add drama to her story.
And that’s the problem with many radio shows. They’re focused on what happened. They miss the emotional connections to how the characters feel. In Cinderella, the magic of the story is in describing the details.
To find the essence of the story, we have to dig beyond the facts.
Everything that happened to Cinderella can add to an emotional bond that connects listeners with the characters in the story. Details are critical, as long as those details build toward story’s destination.
Think about how Disney uses details to tell the story.
Every element contributes to building suspense and anticipation. Colorful details paint a picture that helps us identify with Cinderella. She’s forced to work hard. and is treated unfairly. And she experiences heartbreaking disappointment about missing the party.
Cinderella is a sympathetic figure because of details that cause the audience to cheer for her.Establishing a rapport with Cinderella is a key part of the story’s success. If the audience doesn’t like the main character, it’s hard to get traction. Even if the rest of the story is fundamentally strong, it won’t resonate because there’s no connection to a character.
Once they establish a bond with Cinderella, the audience has a stake in the outcome. We cheer for the underdog and become invested in her story. As she goes through emotional challenges of finding her way to the ball, we feel the and conflict. And Disney uses details to exaggerate the risk. Will she make it to the ball? How will she even meet the Prince? What if her stepmother discovers her?
Without friction, or conflict, there is no story, and Cinderella is filled with conflict. There’s drama between her and her step-family. Then the panic that happens when the clock strikes 12 and the coach turns into a pumpkin.
This is followed by the tension of whether her Prince will find her and whether the glass slipper will fit.
With each twist and turn through the story, conflict increases.
This story is full of exaggeration. The authors go into detail about how hard she has to work at home, and how mean her step sisters are. The pumpkin that turns into a coach,. Mice become coachmen. The elegance of the ball is described in great detail to transport the reader or viewer to the scene.
Turn up the volume on the Three E’s of Entertainment (exaggeration, embellishment and enhancement) to add a sense of importance and helps paint the picture.
Admit it. You feel tension as the Prince seeks the woman who fits the glass slipper, and Cinderella may not be allowed to try it on. The drama builds, with each detail leading to the finale
The Disney version of the story has all the elements of a great story, and every line in the story matters. Every detail paints a picture, and each makes the story more vivid. But it’s equally important to study what has been left out.
Notice that they don’t explain how Cinderella came into her unfortunate situation. In the original story, Cinderella’s real mother died, her father remarried, and he was killed. This left Cinderella a slave to her step-family. But these details aren’t important in getting to the essence of the story. It may be nice background, but it’s not important to the story itself.
The Disney version doesn’t explain how long she had been living with the step-family or how old she was. Those details don’t matter because they don’t contribute to the essence of the story: an unfortunate girl’s dream coming true.
So what’s the point? Why does this matter to your radio show? Three things:
First, realize that you are a storyteller. The essence of a topic is beyond facts. Identify the essence of the story and make it the focal point.
Second, build vivid details into the story, but only those that support the essence.
And third, develop each element of the story to build momentum.
Becoming a great storyteller requires time. Experiment with tactics to use Cinderella Storytelling to become more proficient.
Learn to be a better Storyteller: Click Here.
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