What’s the Angle?

What's Your StoryPhoto credit: Courtesy of Steven Spielberg and Warner Bros. Animation

Pinky: “Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?”
The Brain: “The same thing we do every night,
Pinky—try to take over the world!”

How many knew those lines as soon as you saw the world’s most famous lab rats?

C’mon. Don’t be shy, raise your hands high.

We know those three lines, so well because their story, in a nutshell, is our story.  Many wish we could take over the world; even if we have to do it from our ‘laboratory cages’.

It’s a classic story where determination wins.

But I have a confession.

I’ve never seen one episode of “Pinky and The Brain.” Nope, not one but that doesn’t stop me from knowing their story. Not only do I know their story,  but I also spread it like I’m a loyal fan.

Pinky and The Brain’s story is empowering. Even if we know they may not succeed, we hope they will.

Having a story with an angle compelling enough “to take over the world” should be the goal of every writer.  Well, that’s if they want to get millions of potential readers chatting about their work.

Think about every genuine bestseller; what do they all have in common? They all have a ‘shareable’ story, with an interesting angle; such as this:

“Gurrrrrl, did you hear about that book that suggests Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene?”
What? Who? The prostitute?!
“Um-hmm. I hear the book is based on facts too.”
“So there’s proof?”
“Do you know what’s going to happen to The Church if this gets out? ”
“Lawd, hah mercy.”
“Well, I’m reading it right now. I’ll let you know what’s up.”
~ The DaVinci Code

Or what about this one? I know you all got the e-mail message there was a book teaching our children about devil-worshiping. It warned everyone NOT to let our children read this new book about wizardry. ~Harry Potter

And a personal favorite -a “something new” angle.

“Only in America can a  skinny black man with a funny name, raised by white single mother become a US Senator.”
“Only in America can a skinny black man with a funny name and an African father run for president and win.”
~President Barack Obama 44th US President.

Do you get it? We enjoy a good story.  We’ll buy books, we’ll elect a president, and we’ll even buy an overpriced computer if there’s a good story angle attached.

Have you heard this one?

“He stole the original computer design from his partner. And get this, today, they’re college-dropout billionaires.”

Have you figured out what all these stories have in common?   These concepts shake up the status quo.

Any narrative should have the same goal. It should somehow break the mold. In journalism, “man bites dog” will get coverage; “dog rescues family” will go viral.

A good story needs a plot that rattles a few cages. That is if its goal is to “try to take over the world.”

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