No wise people

If you want to grab attention, use the negative

Welcome to 66,027 storytellers! Here are 1 tip, 3 ideas, and 1 resource to help you become a better storyteller.

PS: You can grab my Storytelling Library, a curated list of the 100+ best books, podcasts, and videos on storytelling, by sharing the newsletter with 3 friends (your unique link is at the bottom of the newsletter).

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Now to today’s piece 🌎

1 Storytelling Tip

The negative is more interesting than the positive.

On Thursday, I tried a new hook on Twitter.

The secret to its success is hidden in the first line — using a negative.

What makes this dead-simple tactic so effective?

The “Christopher Nolan doesn’t use outlines” presents a binary.

The reader thinks ‘okay, then what does he use?’

Once you get the reader to ask themselves a question, you’ve got them. They’re interested, and they’re going to pay attention to what you say next.

I immediately close that loop and offer a breakdown of the plot map. Hook, line, and sinker. A mini-story in a tweet, and a tactic you can use with any medium.

The big idea

Robert McKee had a hand in both the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Nike’s ‘greatness’ series. Not a bad legacy.

McKee harps on ‘negaphobia’ — the fear of using negative messaging:

The protagonist’s quest to restore life’s balance by struggling against negative forces is at the heart of all compelling narratives. Therefore, fine storytellers do not avoid the negative side of life; they seek it out.

Negatives do three things:

  • Open loops

  • Present a binary

  • Call on human nature – Loss Aversion

Next time you tell a story, even just a little tweet, don’t forget about the negative.

3 Ideas


Kristin Hannah: “It’s not intentions that matter. It’s actions. We are what we do and say, not what we intend to.”


Charlie Munger: “In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time – none, zero.”

Here are a few books I’ve enjoyed recently that you might like, too:


Stephen King: “My wife made a crucial difference during those two years. Tabby never voiced a single doubt. Her support was a constant, one of the few good things I could take as a given.

And whenever I see a first novel dedicated to a wife (or husband), I smile and think, there’s someone who knows.

Writing is a lonely job. Having someone who believes in you makes a lot of difference.

They don’t have to make speeches. Just believing is usually enough.

1 Resource

I recently started using Readwise to collect my book notes. It’s like someone went through my highlights, collected them, and then categorized them in a way that actually makes sense.

  • Great free plan

  • Syncs to Notion

  • Easily re-visit your notes

Not affiliated in any way (though I’d love to be). Just a fan. Instead of scrolling Twitter, I can scroll my Readwise feed and fill my brain with good stuff.

When you’re ready to go deeper on storytelling, here are three ways I can help:

1. If you want a practical way to improve your storywriting in less than 25 minutes a day, check out StoryWork (200+ students).

2. Grab time with me for a 1:1 session on newsletters, storytelling, audience building, or anything else.

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Hope you have a great week,