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Andrew Stanton is one of the greatest storytellers in making audiences care. He’s the writer of all three Toy Story films as well as Wall-E, Finding Nemo, and John Carter.

Stanton knows every story comes forth by blood, sweat and tears. He carefully designs stories to draw people in. What’s the one rule that he swears by when writing these stories?

The greatest story commandment is: Make me care.

Let’s focus on how you can use a few film-based storytelling concepts that are geared specifically towards capturing an audience’s affections and making audiences care about your cause.

wall-e-audience-storytelling

Three ways to making audiences care:

1. Caring does not come by chance but by design

When you watch Wall-E stretch out his robot hand to Eva while the 1920s love song is playing in the background, we forget there is no dialogue. We are doing the work to create story.

And Stanton’s point is made: he designed it this way on purpose.

He specifically engineered those moments so we can use our imagination to fill in the details.  Have the same mindset when crafting your impact story.

2. Identify the scratch she can’t itch

Every main character (real or imagined) has a ‘spine’ that drives the person/character’s actions and reactions. Often this “itch” represents the tension of unfulfilled desires and hopes for oneself or others. It’s the “itch” that propels people forward despite difficult circumstances. For example:

    • Perhaps a young woman’s “itch” is to work extra hours to fund her daughter’s education in order to secure her future.
    • Or, for a young man who never had a father, it might be to be a father figure to those who have none.
    • Maybe it’s a teenage girl who struggles with depression and worthlessness who is hell bent to find her unique place in this world to give back to society.

As you collect details from an impact story, listen for themes, listen for the person’s motivation, listen for their ‘spine,’ — and explicitly state it in the narrative.

3. Invoke the common emotional experience

No matter if it’s Nemo, the Godfather, or Sesame Street, what draws us in to movies, TV shows, and animation is when we experience similarities between ourselves and others. Your audience does not need to have gone through the same exact situation to have empathy towards the protagonist in your story.

Simply put, these concepts embody a fraction of the human experience. So, no matter the success of an individual, be sure to make them very human to your readers. Purposefully design and craft your impact story by noting traits of resilience and the reality of the emotional struggle to get to where they are today.

Guaranteed – your supporters will love it! You’ve got this!

Neesha Roberts is a content writer for CauseVox. She focuses on online fundraising, social media, and nonprofit marketing.

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