Q&A with a Story Guru: Lori Silverman, Part 4

See a photo of Lori, her bio, Part 1 of this Q&A,Part 2, and Part 3.

Q&A with Lori Silverman, Question 4

Q: If you could share just 1 piece of advice or wisdom about story/storytelling/narrative/working with stories with readers, what would it be?

A: We’ve overlooked a critical fundamental concept in the field of story work.

All story is narrative. However, not all narrative is a story. It’s extremely important to be able to distinguish between a story and all other forms of narrative (e.g., case studies, examples, profiles, news reports, etc.). Without this, you may invest money in a story-based initiative that will not provide the level of payback your organization desires. (These distinctions are brought forward in the piece, “Narrative Forms”).

There are specific qualities that are integral to stories: They need to have a plot (a conflict), characters, dialogue (preferably both internal and external), a universal theme (key point that applies to all who hear, experience or read it), drama/intrigue, contrast, and sensory information (the ability to paint a picture in the mind’s eye). To use the word “story” for narrative forms that do not have these elements is misleading — and it causes a huge problem in the field: It waters down the meaning of the word, “story.” The consequence of this is that many organizations do not think they need internal or external “experts” in the field of story work to help them with their story-based initiatives.