3 Storytelling Lessons From Breaking Bad
As the final season of Breaking Bad opened, we see Walter White breaking into the shell of what use to be his home. Immediately, my mind started to churn. What happened? Where’s his family? Why is Heisenberg scrawled on the wall?
Instantly, I’m engaged. I’m dying to know how the show ends, but paradoxically I never want the show end.
Then I remember this quote from the first season of Breaking Bad:
“Chemistry: it is the study of change…It is growth, then decay, then transformation.” -Walter White
Storytelling like chemistry is about transformation. A great story fires up the neurons on in our brain that ache to know what happens next and spotlights the flaws, foibles and utter failures fo the characters.
Breaking Bad tells one hell of a good story. Here are 3 storytelling lessons from Breaking Bad and how you can use them to craft an edge-of-their seat, thrill-a-minute story for your business or your next speech.
What’s going to happens next?
TV shows typically have cliff hangers. Remember, who shot J.R. from Dallas? I don’t remember who shot him, but I remember an entire summer where my Mom was dying to know who shot him.
The Breaking Bad writers take the cliff hanger one step further. They start the show with one. They tease us with the beginning of the ending. It’s almost disorienting to see the White household fenced in and abandoned, but it forces the audience to ask “what the heck happened here?” and more importantly “what’s going to happen next?”
“What’s going to happen next” is a powerful question as it engages your brain. You’re compelled to solve the puzzle or at least how the puzzle unravels. If you want to engage your audience in a blog post, the 3 stories your business needs to succeed or even your about me page – get them asking what’s going to happen next.
Look for the transformation
When you first met Walter White, he’s mousey chemistry who was diagnosed with cancer who becomes a scary, power hungry meth cook with a pretty big body count. Not all transformation is good (the show is called Breaking Bad) but in a story there’s needs to be a transformation.
How does working with you change your clients? What transformation have you gone through that you can tell your audience about? How has your business changed and what can people learn?
You learn a lot from other’s transformative stories even if it is what NOT to do in business, life or speaking!
Flaws, foibles and failures are welcomed
3 Storytelling Lessons From Breaking BadMy favorite character on the show is Jessie. Sure, Jessie pedals meth, loves the word “bitch” far too much, and he shot Gail (but let’s face it Walt made him do that), but he is the one character on that show who has a moral compass. He loves deeply. He cares about kids. Despite of what is all going wrong around him, he tries to make things right. He’s flaw and so very human. You can’t help root for him.
At the essence, stories are about our flaws. Stories make us human and help us connect. The stories you tell make you relatable. In a business (especially in online entrepreneurship), your prospective clients learn from your mistakes and mess-ups. They want to know your transformation and how you’ve overcome challenges. Tell that story as it leads to transformation.
Breaking Bad teaches you to tell a great story whether in business or in your next speech – you must engage the brain, show what makes you human and spotlight the transformation that occurred.
I’ll be tuning in tonight to watch Walt and crew go down the dark abyss. How about you?
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