Storytelling Rules

Have you written your story, yet?

Do you know how? Do you know where to begin? Do you ever wish that someone would just tell you what to say or give you a format to follow?

If you don’t even know how to start, let me introduce you to a few of Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling. These rule were tweeted some time ago by Emma Coats, one of Pixar’s Story Artists.

One rule in particular is helpful as we explore ways to tell our story. Rule #4:

“Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.”

An example of using this to tell our God story would be:
Once I was living a destructive lifestyle. Every day I did the same sinful thing. One day someone told me the story of how they overcame the very same issue. Because of that I started to ask them questions about God. Because of that I began to go to church (or attend a Bible study). Until finally I accepted Jesus as my Savior (or God’s help to change). Praise God!

Getting started on writing out your God story is as easy as that. Can you see how your story could fit into the Pixar format? Of course this will be the bare bones version, an outline of sorts. Once you have that in place, you can add the details that make the story uniquely yours.

Some of Pixar’s other storytelling rules might also be helpful. Here are just a few:

Rule #5: “Simplify. Focus…Hop over detours.”

Rule #8: “Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect.”

Rule #14: “Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.”

There are many ways to tell your story. If you don’t know where to begin, this is a simple format to get started. Why don’t you spend some time this week thinking about your experiences with God and see if they fit into Pixar’s pattern of storytelling? You might be surprised by how many stories of God’s work in your life will fit into this format.

Anyone want to share their Pixar Rule #4 story lines? Don’t worry. You’ll be given the opportunity to share more details in a few weeks.

I’ll start:
There was a time when I was over-committed at church. Every time someone needed help, I was there. One day I burned out. Because of that, I began to struggle with questions about God. Because of that, I began to struggle with depression. Until finally, I shared with a friend who prayed for me. Then I gradually found healing, answers, and strength through the power of God. (To see the expanded version go to Trisha’s Story.)

Regardless of whether or not you are ready to share your story, I’d love to here your answer to Rule #14: “Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of?”

One caution: Remember to use “transparency with modesty” whenever you are deciding which details to share. While the person you are sharing with needs enough details to be able to understand your story, there is still the danger of “too much information.”

 

First post in series: Tell Your Story
Previous post in series: How to Tell Your Story
Next post in series: Get Up. Take Your Mat. Go Home.

 

To see Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling: https://www.aerogrammestudio.com/2013/03/07/pixars-22-rules-of-storytelling/

How to Tell Your Story

Try and sing in the night, Christian, for that is one of the best arguments in the entire world in favor of your religion … I tell you, we may preach fifty thousand sermons to prove the gospel, but we will not prove it half as well as you will by singing in the night.
— Charles Spurgeon

When you let God into your life–no matter if He has cured a sickness in your body, saved you from yourself, encouraged you in the depths of despair, uplifted your face to see His grace, taught you more than you already knew, or delivered you from a situation where there was no escape–He wants you to tell your stories.

Seeing the change in you might make someone ask about the cause. Hearing your story might cause someone to think about Jesus. Reading your story might help someone understand how God can help them. Perhaps they might even attend a worship service or turn to God in prayer when they are made aware of your story.

A simply told Christian testimony can change the world. We have many historical examples (the Apostle Paul, for one), so why not add yours?

Where do you begin? Just write what God helps you recall and let the thoughts flow. Here are some examples that might get you started:

  • I was hopeless, but then …
  • I didn’t care who I hurt or which bridges I burned, but then …
  • I was strung out on drugs, heading for the grave, but then …

We all want to know how and why someone changed. But often, testimonies skip over the “but then.” We go from “I was lost” immediately to “I am found. I have peace. I’m assured of heaven.” Share what you have felt, done, and reacted to on the journey; these are the details others find very interesting.

Still need some help?

  • Read a testimony in the Bible to give you courage, for example: Silas the Missionary in Acts 15-18, 2 Corinthians 1:19, 1 Thessalonians 1:1, and 1 Peter 5:12.
  • Pray for the Spirit’s help.
  • Remember words that describe your life before you met Christ.
  • Most importantly, remember it’s all about Christ.

You didn’t save yourself, heal yourself, or become more like Jesus on your own effort. You can do this as your love letter back to God.

(As we explore how to Tell Your Story, each contributor will share a part of their God story with us. Here is Cindy’s Story.)

 

Today’s question:
What are you finding the most difficult part of writing your story?

 

Previous (first) post in series: Tell Your Story
Next post in series: Storytelling Rules

Tell Your Story

The entire Bible is the story of what God has done for us. The story of our need and of His mercy. The story of our salvation and the promise of a future hope. The truly amazing story of God.

If God uses the Bible to show himself to us, maybe we should consider using our stories to show Him to others.

I’ve asked some dear friends to help me explore the idea that our stories are what cause people to see Jesus and to wonder about Him. My friends and I will take turns for the next several weeks sharing stories from the Bible of people who met Jesus and sharing portions of our own stories.

Before we complete our series, Tell Your Story, we will help you discover how to tell your own story and give you an opportunity to share at least a part of it with us.

As you join us on this journey, begin to think about your personal God Story. I’m not talking about the story of your personal salvation moment, although that is certainly part of your story and may be what God wants you to tell. I’m talking about the parts of your life story that will show others what God has done for you. Maybe God helped you walk through a difficult time or illness. Maybe God provided for a particular need in an amazing way. The possibilities are just as many as there are people.

If you have walked with God for any length of time, you probably have many stories of God’s presence and work in your life. Which one does He want you to focus on during the next 6 weeks? Which one is He asking you to share during this process?

Every person has a story to tell. Our stories help people understand truths about God. Let’s share some stories!

 

Storytelling is not something we do. Storytelling is who we are, and there’s a storyteller in each of us. Your story can change the world. Let it out.

The Storyteller’s Secret, Carmine Gallo*

 

Next post in series: How to Tell Your Story

*Gallo, Carmine. The Storyteller’s Secret. St. Martin’s Press, New York. 2016,  229