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    Story Arcs: Stealing Ideas from Storytelling for your Content Marketing







    Stop Hand and octagon

    Before you start reading, enter your name into this box:

    First Name:

    Now this article is all about: [NAME]. Continue reading [NAME]!


    Ok [NAME], let's me and you put on our burglar masks and start stealing some ideas!

    Today we're going to break into the Storytelling vault where they keep all of these things known as "Story Arc's."

    Story Arc's (or archetypes) are used to plot a basic outline of your story.

    For example, this story really sucks:

    Sure that's great in real life, but we are trying to craft a good STORY here.  A really good story has to be lumpy. It cannot be flat and bland.

    So let's add a little lumpiness and suspense to that bland story:

    This is now turning into a story, rather than just a statement.

    One of the things it took me a looonngg time to realize was:

    A character cannot experience great triumph, without first experiencing great setbacks.

    A great triumph comes through overcoming great setbacks.

    A great win is only accomplished by first having a great loss.

    This storytelling advice is also fantastic for applying to selling our OWN products and services.  Adding some flair, some drama, and some imagination always makes selling more fun, relatable, and profitable.

    SO take my hand [NAME] and let's explore some different story archetypes (Story Arcs) together!


    Story Arc Types:

    These are the different types of stories you can tell that resonate through all cultures.  Almost all human stories fall into one of these categories:


    1.) [NAME] Overcomes a Monster:

    Overcome the monster story archetype

    [NAME] must destroy a monster.  Pictured above is [NAME] heroically slaying a super-disgusting and horrifying monster named NevaTron.

    In this story arc, [NAME] must destroy the monster to restore balance to the world.

    "The Monster" can be anything in your story:

    • An evil sister.
    • A competing company.
    • A megalomaniac villain.
    • An illness.
    • A business issue.

    The point of this story is to show how vicious "The Monster" is, and then eventually how to defeat "The Monster."

    Here's an example where "The Monster" is a business problem:

    • [NAME] is a salesman and there's a huge problem with keeping track of hundreds of clients.
    • [NAME] frequently will call the same person twice, or forget to followup.  This makes [NAME] look very un-professional and lose sales.
    • To slay this problem, [NAME] bought a piece of software called SalesForce that keeps track of all these things.
    • Now [NAME] never looks foolish or misses an appointment.
    • Thanks to SalesForce, [NAME] is able to win.

    This story arc can be adapted into a multi-part autoresponder sequence, on a sales page, or in a presentation.



    2.) [NAME] goes from Rags to Riches:

    Rags to riches story archetype

    In this Rags-To-Riches scenario [NAME] suddenly acquires hella power and wealth.  Eventually [NAME] loses it all and learns a very valuable lesson.  On the other side of this, [NAME] comes out a better and wiser person.

    Example Rags to Riches in a business Autoresponder Sequence:

    • Email1: [NAME] starts out as a server at an AppleBee's restaurant.
    • Email2: A wealthy customer leaves [NAME] a tip for $100,000,000. Woo Hoo!!
    • Email3: [NAME] quits the busboy job and starts going crazy!
    • Email4: [NAME] buys a yacht, starts partying, makes new and cooler friends and dumps old lifelong friends who are "too boring" to hang with the newly rich [NAME].
    • Email5: Eventually [NAME] burns through all the money and is broke again.
    • Email6: Despite being a huge asshole to old friends, they forgive [NAME] and accept [NAME] back into their lives.
    • Email7: [NAME] learns a valuable lesson in the power of true  loyalty.

    This story can be adapted to your own story of rags-to-riches-and-back.



    3.) [NAME] goes on a Quest:

    Story Arc goes on a Quest

    [NAME] sets out with a group of friends to find an important object or location, faces many obstacles that get in the way, and then finally gets to the destination.

    Example Autoresponder Sequence story:

    • Email 1: [NAME] makes tshirts for fun.  [NAME] is all excited to launch their tshirt store.
    • Email 2: [NAME] launches the tshirt store, and zero orders come in :-( .
    • Email 3: [NAME] is very depressed about this and begins to doubt their abilities.  [NAME] isn't sure if they are cut out for the business world, and almost gives up.
    • Email 3: Then [NAME] learns about this method of building a group on Facebook.
    • Email 4: [NAME]'s Facebook group starts to grow, and everyday [NAME] is making 2 tshirt sales.  It's not much, but it's a start!  This gives encouragement to [NAME].
    • Email 5: After 6 months of this, [NAME] is selling 40 tshirts a day making [NAME] over $7,000/mo!
    • Email 6: [NAME] is so happy to finally have "made it" in the business world, and [NAME] wants to help others do the same by giving away the templates, strategies, and exact scripts [NAME] used to accomplish this.



    4.) [NAME] Experiences A Comedy of Errors:

    Comedy Story Arc

    Light and humorous character with a happy or cheerful ending; a dramatic work in which the central motif is the triumph over adverse circumstance, resulting in a successful or happy conclusion.[3] Booker makes sure to stress that comedy is more than humor. It refers to a pattern where the conflict becomes more and more confusing, but is at last made plain in a single clarifying event. Most romances fall into this category.

    People love openness and also humor.  A "Comedy of Errors" story arc will allow you to showcase your silly mistakes from the past, and how you've rectified them.

    Example Comedy of Errors Autoresponder Sequence:

    • Email 1: "Hi, my name is [NAME] and I failed 3 times before I had 1 big success. Here's the story...."
    • Email 2: "My first business was selling bracelets online.  I un-originally called is [NAME]'s Bracelet Shop and posted it online.  I sold about $3,400 worth of bracelets in one year.  The problem was: I made no profit!
    • Email 3: "My 2nd business was an eBay store where I sold vintage clothing.  It was called [NAME]'s Discount Vintage Shop, and I would buy vintage clothes from garage sales and sell it online.  I just posted the pictures up and hoped for the best.  That business made some extra side cash (maybe $500/mo, but I was spending sooooo much time buying the clothes and driving around town.  I wish I had learned copywriting before then to better sell the clothes."
    • Email 4: "My 3rd business was a specialty auto-parts store than only sold parts for old Volkswagen Beetle's.  It consistently made me around $3,000/mo, and I ran it full time until it's slow death (eventually competition made it harder to keep earning more money)."
    • Email 5: "My next business (and most successful business) was kind of an accident.  With all these websites I was building I got pretty good at Wordpress themes.  I started to custom-build my own themes, and eventually people started asking if they could buy my themes.  I created a new website called [NAME]'s Custom Wordpress Theme Shop and started selling just 3 themes.  In my first month I made $8,000.  By the 6th month I was making $35,000 selling themes!"
    • Email 6: "In this email I want to show you the very first sales page I made for my little Wordpress theme business."

    This kind of story is educational for people, but also pokes fun at how many times you've failed, which lets people know it's OK to fail a few times in search of the perfect business!



    5.) [NAME] Experiences a Tragedy:

    Tragedy Story Arc

    Example "Tragedy" Story for selling (this is a true story):

    I got robbed a few years ago, and the robbers stole all my computers (including the boxes they came in).  This made me more pissed off than I could ever imaging.

    I experienced great pain and anguish from being robbed. It made me paranoid to walk into my own home. It made me stay up at night thinking of violent ways I'd exact revenge on the motherf**ker that robbed me. These were not feelings I expected to have from being robbed. So when I wrote that piece of copy, it almost flowed out of me effortlessly.

    I wrote about this experience for an AppSumo deal about Project Prey which is a software (I now have on all my computers) that tracks the devices location.

    One of the reasons why so many famous writers have historically been alcoholics, deviants, drug addicts, or deeply flawed people....is because that pain and suffering provides a wealth interesting stories.  When someone goes through setbacks followed by triumphs followed by setbacks.....their life is essentially carving out a perfect "Tragedy" story.

    The rule of thumb to follow about your character in a "Tragedy" story:

    • The audience can learn from [NAME].
    • The audience can identify with [NAME].
    • The audience is rooting for [NAME] to win.
    • The audience has a strong reason to follow [NAME]'s story.
    • Even through [NAME] may be flawed, [NAME] learns to overcome those flaws.

    This is why almost every major popular movie through history starts with an orphan (or someone cast aside by society).

    Some of the biggest and most iconic movie characters revolve around orphans:

    • Titanic.
    • Pinocchio.
    • Avatar.
    • Annie.
    • Batman.
    • Superman.
    • Spiderman.
    • Harry Potter.
    • Frozen.
    • The Wizard of Oz.
    • The Jungle Book.
    • James Bond.

    Losing family is the ULTIMATE human loss, and so anyone in this circumstance usually has a lot of obstacles to overcome.....and all good stories need obstacles.



    Example Story Arc's:

    I'm too greedy to just write about story arcs for the sake of good story telling. No, I want to make money.

    So how do we apply telling a damn good story, with selling a damn good product?

    As I'm writing this I'm sitting across from my buddy NomadicMatt (owner of one of the largest travel blogs online), and this is his actual story about how he went from boring desk job to a successful nomadic travel blogger (hahah....I just randomly started snapping a picture of him and he looked up at me with this disdainful look :-P ):

    A lot of people can relate to the boredom with their job, and a strong desire to see the world before they die. So this story of how he quit his job to travel is very relatable to a large audience.

    Here's my own story arc:

    This story let's people know some background about me, and WHY I chose this path. If someone is interested in an entrepreneurial path, this story arc lets them know I might be someone to follow.


    Here's another example about my buddy Pat Flynn:

    A lot of people can relate to that desire to not take dramatic leaps in their current life because they are happy, but still want to make income on the side.

    While his story isn't all that dramatic, it's extremely relatable to a huge portion of the population.


    Thanks for reading [NAME]!

    Hey [NAME], download this entire post for your own files:



    Neville Signature


    P.S. Hey [NAME], what's a story arc you tell in your marketing? How do you position yourself (or your product)? Let me know, and I'll personally leave feedback on every single comment :)

    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    At 25-years-old, I naively believed that the red flags would magically disappear after the wedding. Well, they didn't. In fact, my situation grew worse by the day. I realized that I exchanged vows not with a man, but a monster. Harsh verbal assaults replaced "Good Morning", and violent outbursts were exchanged for "I love you". I didn't know what to do. After 5 years of silent suffering, staring at my 6-month-old daughter gave me the courage to say "no more". My mother, oblivious to my horrible relationship, gave me a book that changed my life. Just one small, yet profound line, "Are you happy?" No. I wasn't happy at all. I could no longer stomach the turmoil, I had to take back control.

    And that's exactly what I did. Divorce was the first step to liberating myself. Sadly, my daughter was used as a pawn in his twisted plan to continue terrorizing me.

    Now, everything I do is outcome of my wish to help protect women and children from having to endure my situation. I took my love for fashion and design and decided to use the troubles of my life as inspiration to bring awareness for victimized families dealing with abuse, separation, and limited opportunities.

    H2D is the product of one woman's determination to seize hold of the "happily ever after" so often told in fables and fairy tales.

    Throughout my life, I have overcome my fair share of trials. Now, I want to spread my regained confidence with the world. Led by my love for my daughter, I have decided to do what ever I can, to try and make something good out of this bad experience and support suffering children.

    I want my struggle, my story, my strength to serve as the starting point for more women to stand up and say enough is enough. It is my goal to inspire you to have the courage to love yourself more than anyone else, and separate from anyone who can't love you even better. When you're not feeling your best, you can surely look it.

    Little girls around the world are lulled to sleep with bedtime stories of princesses, princes, and the famous "happily ever after" ending. In a sad reality, very few girls grow up to live the life they hear about in fairy tales. I know because I was one of them. When the curtain finally falls, you see the entire production for what it really is. You can admit you've always known it was just a show.

    Link to comment
    Guest Neville


    Awesome you're recognizing it now Doug.

    I don't ALWAYS think an autoresponder needs a story arc, but at some point it's a great tactic.

    For example, my own autoresponder is:

    Emails 1 - 7: Story arc about how to write and then it sells the KopywritingKourse.

    Emails 8 - 12: Story arc about automating a lot of my emails.

    Emails 12 - Whatever: Random good information.

    So you don't necessarily need the ENTIRE thing to be a story, but maybe some of it :)

    Link to comment
    Guest Neville


    Glad you liked my little Jquery hack Aaron!

    I thought it was a fun way to better tell some of these stories :)

    Link to comment
    Guest Neville


    Bahahah.....great comment [NAME]....I mean...."Daren" :-P
    Link to comment
    Guest Neville


    Cool Leigh....how did it do? Did the story resonate with people?
    Link to comment
    Guest Neville


    Awesome Marian, and glad you liked the quote from the book!
    Link to comment
    Guest Neville


    Bahahah.....thanks for the votes Alan, you can be my 2nd Judge :)
    Link to comment
    Guest Neville


    Hey Wilson, cool little story arc!

    I would apply some cool names to different parts of the story.

    Like the part where you had a good job but didn't like it, you can call that: "The Comfortable Chasm" or something more dramatic.

    Thanks for sharing!!

    Link to comment
    Guest Neville


    Hey Simon, this was just a story arc outline, not the whole story. And maybe Wilson doesn't have anything to sell yet?

    I remember when I started blogging, most blogs existed just because people enjoyed sharing, there was no business motive to sell anything.

    Link to comment
    Guest Neville


    Hey Swadhin, great job on the story arc!

    It looks like in a short period of time you've built a cool business, I'm sure that story resonates with A LOT of people.

    Possibly a shirt-worthy comment :)

    Link to comment
    Guest Neville


    Glad you enjoyed and learned Rohi! Writing is DEFINITELY mostly about the practice. Nothing can substitute for that.
    Link to comment
    Guest Neville


    Oh that's a unique story Joel! Hope it works out well for you!
    Link to comment
    Guest Neville


    Thanks for sharing Brandon. Cool that you took the chance and got what you wanted!
    Link to comment
    Guest Neville


    Hey Richard, I've DEFINITELY seen the Hero's Journey.......originally wrote a piece on it, but thought it was too similar to some of the others.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Link to comment
    Guest Neville


    Hey Mia, glad to have opened your eyes to that! Anything that makes you unique or have a unique perspective can make you more valuable.....so it's a shame to NOT show that story.

    Glad this helped you Mia!

    Link to comment
    Guest Neville


    Hey Evan,

    1.) Maybe a shirt-worthy comment :)

    2.) I used a little Jquery to pull that trick off.

    Link to comment
    Guest Neville


    I love when comments help people, good job Evan. Glad you got something out of it Renita!
    Link to comment
    Guest Neville


    Hahah, quite the journey Mindy!

    Did you work at InfusionSoft? I still use them for all my email!

    Link to comment
    Guest Neville


    Bahahhaa, I mean.....I just made a full post about "Zakaria" just for you :-P
    Link to comment
    Guest Neville


    Interesting. Hope it works out and that you're out of bankruptcy now!
    Link to comment
    Guest Neville


    Bahhaha, that's GREAT! That was what I was going for!

    It doesn't matter yet if you don't have a story, because you don't ONLY have to market through stories. If you create useful tools, their usefulness will help sell them (although a great story line would probably help sell them better).

    Cheers Dimas, this post WAS all about you :)

    Link to comment

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