Yeah, everybody says storytelling is effective, tells you to incorporate stories into your copy. “Telling your brand story” has even made it to corporate websites.

It might sound like I disagree—wrong.

Stories *ARE* miraculously effective—else stories wouldn’t be used all over in direct marketing.

But the advice “tell stories” is too simplistic. If you don’t know why a story works the way it does, your story will be incoherent and you’ll lose the reader faster than a BIC lighter.


In this post, I give you a deeper insight into the first part of the hero’s journey and deconstruct it to reveal to you WHY this specific setup has resonated with people for millennia.

The beginning of this article I found is an example of a setup for a good hero’s journey.

While the article is horrible (unless you like judgmental name-calling and complete statistical incompetence), it starts out interesting:

The author is Nigerian, used to live in Gambia, in the US and the UK, before she moved to the US again—a conservative Christian small town.

The author doesn’t feel like they fit in.


This setup is important, because it’s how the hero’s journey starts.

The hero feels uneasy.

It’s how every good story starts:

Bruce Jenner doesn’t feel right in a man’s body.

Elizabeth Keen doesn’t feel right working with Raymond Reddington.

Mike Ross is a brilliant lawyer, stuck with broke stoner friends.

You get the idea.


Now, let’s tear the elements apart.

1. There’s the hero him- or herself.

He or she is there so the audience can project themselves into his or her story. By projecting themselves into the story, they can later feel the result when the hero wins.

2. There’s the environment the hero doesn’t fit into.

This is where the villain is first introduced (it can later be channeled onto one person/monster). Ideally, the audience hates the environment as much as the hero.

3. There’s what’s inside the hero’s head.

These are the values, the principles and the ethics the hero holds. To be captivated, the audience needs to identify with these so they will accept the hero and the solution to his (meaning the audience’s) problem. That way, they can buy the solution in the end.

Save this post and refer to it when you have to write your next story.