The 2 levels of open loops (and how to use them in your story)
Writers, founders, fellow muggles. Welcome to World Builders, the newsletter to help you become a more effective, creative storyteller.
Here are 1 tactic, 3 ideas, and 1 resource to do just that. Let’s get to it.
Last weekend was Father’s Day. Look at this gem of an ad from McDonald’s:
I mean. That’s one of the best dad jokes I’ve seen in a long time.
And I found it through The Sleuths. A free, 1x weekly newsletter on:
Classic and modern ads
The psychology of why they work
And… nothing else. No spam, no case studies. Just brilliant ads.
The Sleuths operate on one theory — the best ads have already been created. What we need to do as marketers is steal from them.
One of my favorite sayings:
The first line decides if you read this book. The last line decides if you read the next.
But that begs the question — How do you convince someone to stick around for your entire story? To make sure they get to that all-important last line?
The answer is Open Loops.
And open loops come in two varieties:
To craft a compelling story, you need both.
Call and Response:
“We might imagine structure as a form of call-and-response. A question arises organically from the story and then the story, very considerately, answers it. If we want to make good structure, we just have to be aware of what question we are causing the reader to ask, then answer that question.”
— George Saunders, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain
This quote prompted the guide on open loops.
Also, I highlighted this book so much I’m scared to let friends read my copy. Such a good read.
The Untold Story:
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
— Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
When I look back at times when I haven’t felt like myself, I notice two things missing from my life: reading and writing.
The Boy, The Sheep, and Psychology:
“A teacher asks a class a question:
There are 10 sheep in a pen. One jumps out, how many are left?
Everyone but one boy says 9 are left. That one boy says none are left.
The teacher says “you don’t understand arithmetic.”
The boy says: "You don’t understand sheep.”
— Charlie Munger
Last March, Brandon Sanderson sold $41M worth of books in the span of a month.
But 14 hours of him talking you through writing and storytelling are completely free.
He teaches a class at BYU and tosses it up on Youtube for the rest of us to watch.
Last week, I spent a few hours going through his outline process. The class is an absolute gold mine.
Here’s the playlist with the full course broken into 13 sections:
Want to go deeper on storytelling?
1. If you want a practical way to improve your storywriting in less than 25 minutes daily, check out StoryWork (200+ students).
2. Grab time with me for a 1:1 session on storytelling, newsletters, attracting an audience, or anything else.
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Have an awesome weekend,