Business Storytelling: How to Edit a Story for Structure

The third draft of your business story is almost three pages long — still too lengthy for the website use originally stated or for a short presentation beyond this. There are certain questions that are helpful when collapsing a story. They help you think strategically, keep you and the story on target, and cut editing time. How would you answer these questions?

  1. What’s the primary purpose for telling the story?

  2. Whose point of view needs to be taken when telling the story?

  3. Of the available problems and challenges, which is the primary one for this story?

    There can be several problems and challenges in a story — the main one helps you construct the plot.

  4. What elements of surprise can be highlighted in the story?

  5. What additional sensory information, figures of speech (metaphors, analogies, and so on), and emotions can be added to keep the story interesting and spark empathy?

  6. How does the story need to begin?

  7. Based on the main problem or challenge, what resolution should there be?

This is also the time to evaluate the structure of the story. Why now and not earlier? You want to ensure all the pieces of a specific structure have been included. This way, you’ll know you’ve hit all the critical points along the way without forcing the story into a structure too soon.

The structure you choose will depend on which structure was provided when you captured the story and whether you can alter that, which ones you like best for it, and the context in which you’re sharing it.

This story follows the CHARQES structure (Challenge, Hindrance, Action, Results Quantified, Evaluation, and Suggested actions). When you overlay that structure onto the third draft, you’ll see that the suggested actions at the end are missing.

The PARLAS (Problem, Action, Result, Learning, Application, and Suggested actions) structure would’ve been just as good. Remember, there is no one right structure to use when sharing business or personal stories.

Now make additional cuts and changes to the third draft based on your answers to those eight questions, organize the content so it follows the CHARQES structure, and add in action steps. If you’re using an image deck, rearrange the cards so all the pieces flow together. Next, find a great opening for the story.

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