Once upon a time, in such and such place, something happened.

And then there was trouble.

Every good story is about a character overcoming an obstacle. The more insurmountable the obstacle seems, the better the story.

A young man is handed a ring. He is told to dispose of it. Can he throw it in his backyard fire? Can he sink it in a river where probably no one will find it, and forget about it? If he can, we don't have a story.

In most dramatic storytelling, an antagonist may want the same thing as our hero, and the struggle becomes the force that drives the story forward. But they may want it for a different reason.

There are many kinds of obstacles in drama, and the apparent, obvious ones often mask deeper problems the protagonist has to overcome (and they might not even know it.)

It's this deeper problem that we identify with, consciously or not. We're not all given rings to destroy. But we all have to grow up, leave home, give things up, climb mountains we don't feel like climbing.

In applied storytelling, the true problem is no more obvious. It may seem that the person buying a dishwasher wants their dishes washed without effort. But the true problem is not the dishes - they want to earn some of their time back.

When a client comes to you with a problem, remember: they're the hero.

Can you identify the deeper problem, and make them feel like they're solving it?