It's fair to say that storytelling is important. I think it's also fair to say that it's one thing to recognize the importance of telling a good story, another thing to figure out what makes for a good story, and yet another to figure out how to tell one. Some of my students are natural storytellers who figure out the secret fairly easily, but others struggle with it.
A few nights ago, I forwarded a couple of Charlie's blog posts to my trial team members, who are working on opening statements and closing arguments in preparation for an upcoming competition. I got a couple of emails in response, essentially stating, "Well, this is great, Professor, and I agree with it, but where do I go from here? I want to put a good story together, but how should I do it?"
I didn't answer the emails for a day or two, but at two a.m. a night or two later, I found part of my answer while watching an episode of Breaking Bad on Netflix. (By the way, Breaking Bad may be the best television series I've ever watched. I watched four seasons' worth of shows in about two weeks over the holiday break. I couldn't stop!) Season Three, Episode 12, Half Measures, has an absolutely outstanding story in it. A character named Mike--a security man, "fix it guy," and assassin for a drug king-pin--tells the story to Walter White, the protagonist of Breaking Bad. I watched the story a couple of times, and I realized it could be used as a great teaching tool to help students see a good story, figure out why it was such a great story, and identify principles they could integrate into their own storytelling.
So, here are a couple of Youtube clips with the story. The first is of the actual episode itself, and the second is a fan animation with the soundtrack. I included the fan animation because I liked it.
(here's the link to the clip in case you are getting this blog post via email: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3u-6UFLubI)
(here's the link to the second clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUuHdACg83E)
I gave the students an email assignment, a copy of which is excerpted below, and waited for their responses. Their responses were quite insightful. They rewrote their openings and closings in light of the principles they gathered from watching the clips and reading the blog posts I sent them. I think seeing and listening to a good story helped them pull together what Charlie and the author of the Psychology Today article were talking about.
Here is a copy of the email I sent them: