BtB2 - The Story - Once upon a time

This entry was posted on January 28, 2016 by Richard Warriner.

“So you want to write a great story - we’ve found 8 ‘must have’ story telling ingredients to make amazing stories”

Thankfully there are lots of great story’s already written. Many of these books contain a number of common features that seem to offer near universal appeal to the readers. It’s almost like a story formula that in theory you can follow to create a great story.

And so we had the rather enjoyable task of – well reading plenty of books, watching a few films and some less entertaining desktop research. This approach enabled us to identify 8 classic ingredients of great stories.

Prove yourself please!

So we had our hypothesis and it needed proving. We cross checked our formula (list of classic ingredients) against some of the best known fairy tales as well as some of the classic Disney and Pixar films (films count don’t they?). Great news – we found a really high correlation between our classic ingredients and the ‘top’ books and films.

We then looked at a lot of the personalised books on the market and to our surprise (and if I’m completely honest, it was also to our relief) we found that very few personalised books had many of our key features at all – instead looking to be relying heavily on an assumed novelty value (is this really enough?).

Okay – so what are these key features?

Let’s play a game. Think of some of your favourite films and then cross reference to our list and see how many of the features your film includes?

We think the following key features will ‘help’ to make a great story:shadow-blog

  1. A hero and a villain - Sounds obvious doesn’t it, and it is: this is a key feature!
  2. Danger - Even if it’s only a hint of danger. It helps to build an excitement that keeps you gripped.
  3. A context – Whether it be a crusade, a quest, a place - you need a context to rationalise how your story unfolds
  4. Exciting characters – Again this sounds obvious. The more exciting they are the better the interactions with the hero & villain
  5. Magic – Not everyone’s cup of tea but a touch of the supernatural. The ability to do something that can’t be done by ordinary people in our ordinary worlds resonates with many
  6. Quest / mission – The hero nearly always starts off in a safe place; gets taken from safety and needs to ‘do something’ to get back to safety / live happily ever after
  7. The hero’s friend – To act as a conscience, accompanying the hero and helping to keep them on the right path (the hero will usually falter at some point and be ‘saved’ by their ‘friend’)
  8. Some learning – The hero usually needs to go through some type of development / learning to enable them to be successful

Hopefully these ingredients sounded familiar to you too? Clearly just including the above won’t necessarily make a great story. Great story’s come from great imaginations combined with great writers and we were very lucky. We had an “ace up the sleeve” as I happen to know a hugely talented author – Nicole Warriner, my daughter. Nicole has wanted to be an author since primary school and whilst still at the tender age of 15 is sincerely the best writer I know! This gave me the confidence that Nicole could create something special.

So Nicole’s fun began – creating over 30 versions of the book; many workshops; reviews and the helping hand of a great editor all forming part of her very own epic journey.

So how did we do?

Well we think we nailed it (much to Nicole’s credit). We actually gave her two additional requirements (not always necessary but we felt would be great in our books):

  1. To craft it all in rhyming couplets, and
  2. To make our books interactive

And so our Junior Master Chef, Nicole, managed to use the ‘classic ingredients’, then added a pinch of ‘additional requirements’ and created our very own truly scrumptious gem of a book! We are so excited as we begin our own quest to make magical bedtime experiences for thousands of children all around the world.

You can create and view your very own personalised book on screen. See if you can spot how we built the classic ingredients into each of our books!

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