We can’t be emotionally invested in a story if we don’t care.
In 2013, Sam Berns, a student at Foxboro High School in Massachusetts, gave a TEDx talk that has been viewed more than 20 million times.
The title of his talk was ‘My philosophy for a happy life.’
At first this seems a strange proposition. After all, what can a 17 year old school kid really offer us in terms of his wisdom and life experience?
But Sam was different from his classmates.
He suffered from progeria which is a rare genetic condition that causes rapid ageing. The majority of children with this illness don’t tend to live much beyond the age of thirteen.
What makes Sam’s story so compelling is that he immediately makes you care. Here is someone facing life with a very difficult illness. One that places huge limitations on the quality and length of his life.
And yet, unlike many healthy people, he’s chosen to live a life of purpose and to disregard as best he can the impact the illness has on his enjoyment of life.
Stories like Sam’s are so powerful because the move us emotionally.
The writer and director Andrew Stanton who joined Pixar in 1990 famous said, “The greatest story commandment is: Make me care.”
When crafting your story make sure you don’t lose sight of this.
What is it about your story that’s going to make people care?
If you can’t hook them early on with a reason to invest their time then they will soon switch their mind over to any number of other things vying for their attention.