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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

Guest Neville


Awesome Trev, hope the About Page story is working well for you!
Link to comment
Guest Ann Vertel


Hi Wilson,

Great story! There are so many great endings/lessons you can pull out of that piece where you were let go, retooled, and came back strong. Things like persistence, resilience, redemption, and vision. - Ann

Link to comment

Salam and hi!

I could totally relate to Nomadic Matt. It's just that I'm still stuck here. Don't get me wrong. I love my job. I love teaching, I love being around kids. BUT deep in my heart, I'm aching and yearning to travel around the world. To see the other side of the world that I have never seen. Although the Internet could give you access to that, at your finger tips, BUT it's not the same, reading other people's story or watching videos/pictures, with experiencing the experience yourself, right?

That's not my point by the way.

I found your blog from a storyteller 'guru' i followed on Facebook. I am a newbie in copywriting and business alike. Hence, I REALLY want to improve my copywriting. Because I know people don't fall into hard selling method. Sometimes, I feel that I don't have the talent to write, I don't have the character to influence people, to make people to read more, and eventually become my customer. Heck, I felt that that's not me sometimes, after writing a post. I'm shy, really. ?

My first impression reading your blog was 'WOW'. I could feel your positive vibes, I LOVE every single information in it. And I felt that my visit to your blog is appreciated. My presence in your blog is VALUED. I just LOVE the feeling. And I know I HAVE to learn to write the exact same way like you. People can relate to your story, follow you and buy whatever you are selling. Nahh, I still have a lot to learn and practice. It's going to be a slooww process but I hope that I can be like you and pofff become a magical storyteller/copywriter. It's not magic. I know. Thank you, thank you and thank you. Wish me luck in copywriting.

P/s : I don't have a story arc. To be honest, I don't have any idea. I'm simply writing my thoughts here. How do you turn yourself into a copywriter seriously? Okay this is too long already. Thank you for reading.

Link to comment

Hey great article, fascinating topic and i loved the fill-in-the-blank hack! Which got me to thinking...

We all love stories that star US ... so does it make sense to try to make the story arc about the reader/customer more than about yourself? (I think this is the approach taken in the book "The Story Wars") Or are you telling your own story in a way that they can identify with and see themselves in, so in a way it really IS about them? Or do you think both ways are valid?

Link to comment
Guest Tim McLaren


Great stuff! I wonder if it is easier to write compelling story arc bios for other people than it is for ourselves? Finding the right humble/arrogant balance is hard.
Link to comment
Guest Neville


Hmmm....can't see the video. Maybe post the results in text later!
Link to comment
Guest Neville


I actually think it's totally true: It's SO much easier to write it for other people. I find it really easy to write for others during consults than I do for my own products.
Link to comment
Guest Neville


Thanks Lisa! Customers can get good information about stories about THEM, but also stories about yourself if they can "see themselves" in your story.

That's why autobiographies are popular, because you can see inside the mind of a person and learn lessons from it. Both ways work!

Link to comment
Guest Neville


Hey Neesa, thanks for the kind words! You can maybe first start your journey on becoming a copywriter here:


....and also devour all my free articles:


....and if you really want to accelerate the process, join the paid KopywritingKourse:


However you need to START WRITING SOMEWHERE first. I always encourage people to setup a little Blogger.com blog and just start writing.

But for now, read all my free resources and they will lead you down a serendipitous path :)

Link to comment
Guest Alex Wiethaus


Now you made me curious. Do you want to tell us how this query hack works? I searched already the whole interweb but cannot find any clue :-(.
Link to comment
Guest Dilip Sharma


Definately going to bookmark your site mate :) Will love to see these types of post in future
Link to comment
Guest 21 Remarkable List Building Strategies To Get More Subscribers – Cody Lister


[…] of creating standard pre-launch content that walks people through your story arc in a 3-part video series, Bryan used a different […]
Link to comment
Guest Advait


Thanks for Valuable Information.  Story 1(the monster) and Story 3(quest) These type of stories looks quite similar!
Link to comment
Guest 16 ways to find viral blog content ideas


[…] found storytelling to be a very effective way to add an element of surprise.You can use any of these story arcs from Neville Medhora to create a fictitious story about your content theme.As you can see, the […]
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