Articles, Blog

Steal Hollywood’s Storytelling Secrets for Massive Engagement

– Hollywood has gotten really good at [Man] telling engaging stories. In fact, every time they do so, someone makes a million dollars. (cash register chime) And today, I want to share with you guys some of the same principles that they use to tell really engaging stories that’ll help you get more views, more subscribers, more watch time, more brands wanting to
reach out and work with you. These principles are totally reproducible, repeatable, and every time you go to a movie theater you see all of these things happening, and we wanna take it and
apply it to your video. But first, a little story. (electronic music) (child talking) (classic rock drumming music) Today is a special day, because why? – It’s my birthday! – [Man] And how old are you today? – Six! – (Man laughs) She’s excited. (classic rock drumming music) – What do you really want?
– I want candy! – [Man] You know what you
need to get the candy? – Mm-mm.
– [Man] What do you think? – Money? – [Man] Money, yup. Think you need to put some quarters, they’re
each 25 cents, right? Do you have any quarters? Oh, how are you gonna get the candy? (bright drumming music) I think I have a solution for you. I have money, I have quarters. But, first of all, before
you can get the money, you have to make a deal with me. What kind of deal do
you wanna make with me? (laughs) I like that deal, thank you! All right. Okay. Okay. Now, how many quarters are there? – Eight! – Okay, there’s eight quarters, but there’s another problem. You have to share them with
all your brothers and sisters. You decide how many
quarters you’re gonna give to each of your brothers and sisters, and how many you’re
gonna keep for yourself. – Zeke. Toby. – [Man] So what are you doing? – I’m giving one to everybody. – Okay. – Hannah. Karis, you can have one. – [Man] Now, Hallie, how many quarters do you have left for yourself? – Three. – Cool! Careful when it opens. – Come on, candy. – [Man] Hallie, where’s your quarters? – I don’t know. – [Man] You don’t have your quarters? Did you lose them? Are they on the floor? – [Hallie] Over here maybe? (bright pop music) – These are mine! – [Man] You found them! (bright pop music) – I got special one! (ding) Thank you daddy! – You’re welcome, I love you! Thank you! Wow, those are big kisses! So that was a very basic story that’s probably more likely to connect with a child
than an adult, I guess. But let’s walk through
the structure there, and then at the end we’ll connect it to a story that I think
you and I will probably connect to on a better level. – [Man] There’s three
parts to every story. It starts about a character
who wants something, overcomes conflict to get it, and is transformed by the process. So let’s dig into it. Act number one is about a
character who wants something. Now, in a YouTube video,
the very first thing you need to do is establish
who this character is. That can be done simply
by showing them visually on-screen who it is, maybe using some establishing shots, or giving some context can help as well. But second, you must very quickly get to the inciting incident in the story. Now, the inciting incident is the thing that happened that really makes the character want something
and desire something. The stronger is is, the
stronger the desire, the better. From this moment on, the
rest of the story is about “Will the character get
the thing that they want?” – I want candy! – If you look for this
inciting incident moment on television and on TV,
they can usually take a few minutes to ramp up to that, but on YouTube we don’t have that luxury. We need to hook that audience’s attention right away, quickly prompt that question in their mind, maybe even with the title on the thumbnail that
they already clicked on, and then really keep them watching because there’s a lot of
competition on YouTube for their eyeballs to
watch something else. And this brings us to Act Two,
which is all about conflict. This is where the character
faces the conflict and they have plenty of obstacles they need to overcome, and each obstacle gets more and more
difficult, the stakes get higher and higher in each
obstacle, and conflict is more insurmountable, and it just causes the viewer to really want to cheer for the character, like “Yes,
you can do it, get there!” but also raises the stakes each time, and we’re building towards
this thing that’s like, “Will they get this thing
that they want or not?” A series- – [Siri] I’m here. – Go away, Siri. (chuckles) – [Siri] What did I do to deserve that? – A series of conflicts
then leads to a crisis. This is the point where
it feels like all is lost, there is absolutely no way
to overcome this obstacle. My daughter, she had the money, she distributed it, and then she lost it and Dad doesn’t have any more quarters. And everything is in vain, everything that worked up to this moment is gone. Act Three now begins and this
is all about transformation. The character is there at
the climax of this story. This is the moment, are they gonna get it, or are they not gonna get it? And this is where
everything is on the line, and the conflict that we have been watching this person go
through this entire story this is where it all culminates. And spoiler alert, yes,
they overcome the conflict, they win, they get to the top, they get to that point, and the whole- everything that the story
was building towards finally makes sense, and this is when the girl gets that guy, this is when the superhero defeats the villain, this is when Santa actually gets the gifts delivered once again. This is when someone finds their way home again, and is finally there. Or, in the case of YouTube,
this is when that kid finally gets that toy un-boxed, or this is when that DIY
project is finally finished, or this is when the
cooking/food show channel makes the food, and at the
end it just looks delicious, this is when that family vlog, where the family has been trying for so long to adopt a child finally adopts the child
and gets to bring them home. But, the point of any good story is not actually about
overcoming obstacles. The point of any good story is actually about transformation. It’s about how are they different? What was it about the conflict in that whole process
they had to go through that really changed them and turned them into a different character
at the end of the story than they were at the
beginning of the story. This is the part that causes us to have those warm, fuzzy feelings
at the end of a movie. This is what takes us
from just liking a story to really loving a story. On YouTube, the point isn’t actually that the boy un-boxed a toy. It’s actually about feeling that sense of excitement, and knowing that he’s not gonna be experiencing boredom again anytime soon. The DIY project, this is
actually about giving us a sense of satisfaction
and pride in something that we’ve created. And in my case, it’s not
actually about a girl getting candy, it’s about the relationship between a father and a daughter, and their relationship is
strengthened in some way. The point of any good story is about transformation. On YouTube, it’s often very appropriate that after that climax
ends, just end the video, give people the end screen, get them to click and watch another one. Throughout the next few weeks and months we’re actually gonna be talking a lot more about really practical ideas for how to best integrate storytelling
into your videos, especially those of you
who have educational-type of channels, and you’re like
“I’m not telling stories, I don’t have narrative content, how do I do education on that?” Well that’s coming, subscribe
to get those videos. But in the meantime, I
have an assignment for you. I want you to click this video you see on your screen right here, this is the video by Peter McKinnon. I want you to watch
this video, and look for each of these elements of storytelling that we’ve discussed here today, and find that story arc in that video. Check it out, he does a really good job at raising the stakes
the whole way through, so check that video, there’s also a link to it in the description below, and I’ll see you guys
over in the next one.


  1. The Bemused: Making Sense of Money 💰 Author

    Yes! I’ve been trying to figure out how to better implement storytelling for my educational channel. Can’t wait to see what’s next. Thanks, Tim! -Akeiva

  2. creations landscape designs Author

    So in my business/YouTube, my design projects is the characters. The inciting part is how horrible it looks and is in need of renovation. etc. Ok I buy that.

  3. Autobot Simmer Author

    Old like to add a tip; live stream. I have been live streaming for a month and have a couple stream only series with good stories the viewers participate in.of. course it won't work all the time. Not sure the game Cities; Skylines' can have a story or other games like it.🤔

  4. Jeff Lanctot Author

    Tim, I have an educational channel (giving creative people the tools to level up their creative ambitions) but I have struggled to weave story into my content in a consistent way. Jeff, over at Story Greenlight talks a lot about story… I'm a subscriber over there and to your channel as well but I haven't quite been able to get my arms (or brain) around the techniques yet, so I'm definitely looking forward to what you'll have to say for those of us in an educational niche! Thanks for all you do!

  5. memathews Author

    Excellent master class on storytelling, and you use the sweetest example story possible.

    I may just run this video for clients instead of spending an hour or more waking them through how each of their sales situations is a story itself as well as being dependent on their storytelling about. Peter's video is definitely gold, I'll have to hit your link and watch that again. Thanks!

  6. Cooking With A Little Spice Author

    This is a great video. I love how you explain in detail the story line. I’ve been really trying to add a story to each one of my recipe videos. TFS

  7. Kids Toys Play Author

    So much value in this video! I was actually hooked into the message when our daughter screamed "that's us"!! Thanks for adding us to the b-roll, totally unexpected!

  8. JEFF POSH Author

    Hey Tim we just went live with our first vlog today. Shares many similarities with this videos topic! Would love the feedback as your videos have been a huge part in helping me set up this channel. Thanks and I wish you all the best! -Jeff

  9. Vans World Author

    That’s a great story model Tim. I had a movie actor / wirector / writer tell me about a book Save The Cat It will share the steps to writing a great movie and story line. It’s an awesome read. If you share this little tip, how about a shoutout 👍😁 have a great weekend brother

  10. miAim The Improvised Line Author

    WE have followed this concept throughout Series 1 of Improv 4 Players. . . . slowly the message is getting through with views up, watch time and subscriptions gradually increasing.

  11. Liron Segev Author

    Total Awesomeness! Really excited about learning how to use this for educational / how to content where it's not vlogging style. Thanks Tim!

  12. Here Be Barr Author

    Great content Tim. I met you at Vid Con in 2017 and you were as real and honest/down to earth as you were in your videos !! This is useful advice for any niche.

  13. Gary Nilsen Author

    Great video! I really enjoyed it. I would have to agree that Peter McKinnon's video was so good! I've already watched it and I was rooting for him to get that shot through the whole video!

  14. Mike Beeler Author

    Loved it! Does this apply to in depth technical training? Conflict “my pointer to storage is lost,what shall I do?” Transformation “I forgot to dereference a value in the previous line, fixed it and now I have found my pointer with the aid of the debugger. My hero I’m saved!” Waiting breathlessly for the next installment😊

  15. Girl in the Woods Author

    Your channel is really great. I always turn to it when I need encouragement and solid info on how to grow my channel. Seeing your family was like the cherry on top!! I've seen the PM video- it's great! Thanks again Tim!

  16. Cask Theology Author

    Great video as always Tim. It's no suprise that storytelling can engage your audience. If I said Noah's Ark, Star Wars, Game of Thrones or Robin Hood.. a lot of folks would know what I'm on about nearly immediately because telling stories is a deeply ingrained thing in us.

  17. Frolic & Courage Author

    This is so, incredibly helpful as a new vlogger, Tim! I feel like I’m being set up for success whenever I watch your videos and look forward to learning more!

  18. SaVaGe K Author

    Very well done! I’m in film/cinematography school right now and this video summaries what 2-3 of my classes so far have been about. Super valuable information here.

  19. Ellie’s TV Author

    OMG! She’s so cute.. just new on your channel.. I just started doing my channel with my little one too.. I’ll get attached to you 🤗🤗🤗

  20. Marley Peifer Author

    I am trying to answer the 7 questions that you mention for upcoming videos I am planning. And am wondering if it is usually better to have fewer answers to the questions? I'm noticing that for #2 what does the main character want? I often have a lot of answers… Thanks, I have been watching a lot of your videos since I discovered you in your collab with video influencers a couple days ago.


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