Writing a Great Story by Focusing on a Single Climactic Scene

2010 Echo Conference

In this 50 minute training post from the 2010 Echo conference, Donald Miller talks about how the elements of "story" apply to making our lives count. Donald Miller is the best-selling author of books including A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Searching for God Knows What, Father Fiction and Blue Like Jazz (which became a major-motion picture). He is also the creator of Storyline, a life-mapping process to help people live better stories. As you watch this session, take notes and write down thoughts about how this session can impact your ministry.

Donald gave the Gallup statistic about people's engagement in their work to remind us that "great managers often help people not only see the purpose of their work but how each person's work influences and relates to the purpose of the organization and its outcome."

How are you showing your team members the bigger picture of the organization and specific projects?
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What we do—a project, organization or company—is a story. A story is simply a character or characters who overcome conflict in order to actualize a single climactic scene.
Donald talked about starting with the end of the narrative (project), where do you what it to end? It's the "single climactic scene" It must be a visual image that is emotionally and intellectually compelling. And then figuring out how you get there.

What does your heart want to see happen? Where are you going? What is the single climactic scene for your organization or project? Is it compelling? Does it instill sacrifice?
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If you are struggling to find a compelling single climactic scene or your answer was "no," do you need to re-evaluate the project or program? Does it even need to exist or happen?
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Donald gave four questions to ask as you evaluate:
  • 1. What project or near-term responsibility do you need to create a storyline for? 
  • 2. What are the outcomes you are responsible for? 
  • 3. Why is this good for your organization, your customers and the community? 
  • 4. Describe the many ancillary scenes that can only take place if you were to complete the climatic scene?

Which of these questions are you able to answer? Are there any you are struggling with? What does that tell you?
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Then Donald gave three validating questions to ask:
  • 1. From your associates' perspectives, why might the single climactic scene not be engaged? 
  • 2. Have you captured a scene that everyone can envision? 
  • 3. Can you people make an emotional and intellectual connection to the single climactic scene?

Which of these questions are you able to answer? Are there any you are struggling with? What does that tell you?
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Donald reminded us that there will be conflict! Conflict makes the story more exciting. Conflict makes the story impossible to accomplish without God. What are the most obvious major conflicts you'll encounter that threaten the single climactic scene? (Time is always a conflict - factor in deadlines.)

Every story has characters (team) to carry out the task. Can your team deal with these major conflicts to carry out your mission? Do you more on your team, less, or some different characters for your team?
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Story is designed by God. He creates us to desire and to want something. He increases the conflict in our lives so we will value what we have to pursue. He teaches us. He guides us. He develops our character and our faith in Him through our stories.  With God, tell a really beautiful story!

For information or to purchase tickets to experience next year's Echo Conference live, go to echoconference.com.