Yes! And No.
I talk about stories. A lot. I use stories and their underlying structure as a way to make sense of complex problems. I also use them to envision, plan for, and build products and services that are not only usable, but that people want to use and enjoy using. And for the last couple of years, I’ve been teaching others how to do the same. These are people, like you, who want better tools to do better work so that they can better engage an audience and build things that are, not just engaging, but successful. The thing about all of this teaching and working is that it’s exhausting. And, it’s all one big cliffhanger.
You see, I introduce people to this approach by traveling the world, giving talks, facilitating trainings and workshops, teaching college courses, and working directly with clients and teams. People love what I teach, find value in the approach, and start applying what they learn immediately in their jobs. That makes me happy because I want people to build awesome things and do great work.
But I’m only one person and can only work with so many people at the same time – until I can figure out the whole wormhole, time travel thing.
Books, like the one I am writing – especially in the age of e-publishing – have the ability to do what no human can do (yet!): traverse time and space, be anywhere and everywhere at once, and be accessible to anyone and everyone who can purchase or borrow a book at a store or library. Since I can’t teleport myself all over the world (yet!) to introduce people to this approach, I’m doing the next best thing: writing a book for you take anywhere and everywhere. So that you, too, can build more awesome things.
The other reason I am writing this book is to provide closure where there is otherwise a cliffhanger. After people learn about this story-based approach, they often ask if I can recommend a book on the subject. I searched for that book. I found great books tangentially on the topic. But I couldn’t exactly find what people needed. I want to start saying yes when you ask me for further reading. Because you’re all a bit nerdy and like to read. And that’s awesome. It’s how you get from novice to expert and how you go from creating things that are good to great. So I’m going on a little journey. For you.
I’m reading all the books I can find on the topic for you and am packaging them up into one handy guide. So you can keep being awesome. I’m also talking to tons of people for you – people who use story structure to build awesome interactive things. I want to tell you about what they’re doing so you learn from them and see what works and what doesn’t.
But, wait, another book about stories?
There are wonderful books out there (some published by this very publisher) that talk generally about how to use stories as part of a successful design practice. Or you might have learned about story-based tools, like scenarios or even Agile user stories in a book. They’re all great. But…
I’m not talking about using stories. And I’m not talking about telling stories. All of which, I highly recommend. I’m talking about building products and services as if you are crafting a story.
Brick by brick. Beginning, middle, end, plot points, narrative structure. All of it.
Why? Because story art and craft is one of the best and oldest ways to engage an audience. You’re probably already using it in your work without realizing it. I want you to not only realize it, but start approaching every project (well, most projects) from this perspective. Not just story-first, but structure first. Just like screenwriters do for movies – and just like I learned in film school…for movies. There are a gazillion books on story art and craft…for writers, filmmakers, game designers and artists who dabble in this funny thing called interactive narrative…but they’re not for you. You build websites, software, tools, services, not necessarily art or entertainment.
Story and the storylines that flow through a good story are powerful tools. And powerful tools like this shouldn’t be just for filmmakers, writers, and artists. Designers, product managers, developers, strategists, marketers…no, you’re not storytellers, but, like it or not, you are in the business of making stories happen. Neuroscientists say so. And I believe them. And I’ve seen it work – not just in theory, but in practice. I want to show you how.