How and Why Solution-Oriented Storytelling Works

At an Esalen Institute conference in Big Sur, mythologists like Joseph Campbell and Robert Johnson were trying to come up with a clear, simple definition of “myth”. After several days, they still hadn’t come up with an answer, so they asked Robert Johnson’s young son what he thought a myth was and he said:

Myths are a lie on the outside but the truth on the inside.

“The truth on the inside” of your stories is your universal theme.

Telling Solution-oriented stories with universal themes inspires your target audience to take action, to participate in “the things that matter.”

How do you do this?

1) You need to have a positive vision of the future like Malala Yousafzai and Martin Luther King, and

2) You need to know how solution-oriented stories function (see below)



Structure is based on the order in which the audience learns and feels things.

You are on a parallel emotional journey of discovery with your characters and your audience.

Your quest is to discover the “story beneath the story” that wants to be told.

Transformational storytelling begins with an inner shift of perception.

Create meaning through contrast and opposition.

Judgment freezes reality and creative flow.

Engage the audience with the present time story before revealing too much back-story and socio-political context.

Dilemma is at the creative core of your stories.

Narratives function through core triangles of characters.

Relationships reveal vulnerability, raise the stakes, and provide a wide range of emotional experiences for the audience.

Locations reflect the emotional states of the characters in your story and the audience while watching the film.

Express your universal theme through genres, the most popular form of storytelling in the world


Next: the universal truths about telling compelling stories are the universal truths about living a meaningful life.