6 Plot Points to Energize Your Climate Storytelling

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Struggling to captivate your audience? Many environmental organizations face storytelling deficiencies, leading to ineffective communication and missed opportunities. Let's explore how using the 6 essential plot points can transform your environmental storytelling.

Storytelling is powerful because it's captivating. We all want our audiences to engage deeply with our content and mission. While every story is unique, the methods for telling those stories are consistent. With your story in mind, you must define the narrative arc. The flow and order of your story help keep an audience engaged over time. This flow is usually made up of 6 plot points.

Different Names for the 6 Needed Story Plot Points

Various names and terms describe the narrative flow. Let's explore three variations that provide different perspectives on story structure.

The Hero with A Thousand Faces

Joseph Campbell's book explores common patterns in myths and stories from different cultures worldwide.

Framework Explanation: The Hero's Journey includes 12 steps, but here's the gist for brevity's sake.

  • The hero starts in an ordinary world
  • Receives a call to adventure
  • Faces challenges and tests
  • Finds guidance from mentors
  • Returns transformed

Dan Harmon Story Circle:

TV writer Dan Harmon, known for "Rick and Morty," created this adaptation of The Hero's Journey.

Framework Explanation: The Story Circle involves

  1. The introduction of a character in their everyday life.
  2. The character desires something.
  3. The character faces a problem or a challenge.
  4. The character attempts to solve the problem.
  5. As a result of their actions, the character experiences a consequence.
  6. The character learns something important from their experience.
  7. The character applies what they've learned and faces a climax.
  8. Finally, the character returns to their everyday life, but things are different now.

Narrative Arcs or Plot Diagrams Framework:

Like Dan Harmon's approach, this method presents a rise-and-fall diagram instead of a circle. This six-part arc uses traditional terms found across various storytelling mediums. However, these aren't the 6 plot point terms we suggest you use.

Framework Explanation: 

  1. Exposition
  2. Conflict
  3. Rising action
  4. Climax
  5. Falling action
  6. Resolution

The 6 Plot Points You Can Use for Your Stories

For environmental nonprofits and cleantech video storytelling, we prefer the terminology used by Muse Storytelling. Why these terms? They're easy to understand. These 6 plot points are the backbone of all the stories we craft at BariStories.

Hook:

The hook captures your audience's attention. It's the element that immediately pulls your audience into your story. Usually, the creation of the hook happens after the other plot points.

  • Purpose: The hook intrigues you and makes you want to keep reading or watching. It sets the stage and excites you about what's to come.
  • Audience Benefit: Curiosity
  • Location: At the beginning of your story.

Conflict:

Conflict is the problems, challenges, or obstacles your character or organization faces. Despite its importance, many companies avoid talking about it. By avoiding sharing your conflict, you're missing the ingredient for others to care about your work deeply.

As MLK said, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." This applies to the conflict that arises in your organization's life.

  • Purpose: To create tension and keep your audience on the edge of their seat, wondering, "What's gonna happen?"
  • Audience Benefit: Suspense, curiosity, and empathy (emotional investment as they root for the character to succeed).
  • Location: At the beginning of your story, after the hook,

Initiation

This is when your character or organization decides to take action to overcome the conflict. The initiation is like when your characters get pulled into the main adventure.

  • Purpose: Push your characters or organization into action and set them on their journey. It's the starting point of something big.
  • Audience Benefit: A sense of purpose and direction. The feeling of "we're going somewhere."
  • Location: At the beginning of your story, after the conflict.

Journey

The journey is about the ups and downs, challenges, and lessons learned. It is central to the story, where your organization works towards resolving the conflict.

  • Purpose: Provide a series of adventures, setbacks, and character development that propel the story forward.
  • Location: At the middle of your story after the initiation.

Resolution or Result

The resolution is like the climax or the big finale of the story. It's where the conflicts and problems are finally resolved, and you tie up loose ends. However, some stories wrap up with warm and fuzzy bows. That's when you share the results, good or bad.

  • Purpose: Provide closure to the story
  • Audience Benefit: Satisfaction and fulfillment. The big sigh of relief.
  • Location: At the end of your story after the journey.

Jab (Call to Action)

In the world of storytelling for environmental organizations, here we call people to action. This is the final part of your story, where the audience is inspired or encouraged to take action or reflect on the story's message. This could be something or text on the screen that tells the audience what to do next.

  • Purpose: Invite people to action to leave a lasting impact
  • Audience Benefit: Motivation and encouragement to make a difference
  • Location: At the end of your story.

Choose your call to action (CTA) wisely. The wrong CTA can cause people to take no action. Checkout out these 15 simple CTAs to use.

Example Time: 6 Story Plot Points In Action

Here are two examples of this framework in action. Let's start with a story you're familiar with, The Lion King, followed by one of our projects.

The Lion King: A Classic Example of Effective Storytelling

The Lion King follows the framework of the 6 plot points: It begins with the captivating presentation of Simba, the future king, at Pride Rock.

The conflict arises when Scar plots to take over the throne. Simba's journey in the jungle with Timon and Pumbaa leads to personal growth and a new perspective on life.

Simba returns to confront Scar and reclaims his rightful place as king, restoring the Pride Lands. The movie ends with a call to action, inspiring the audience to embrace their identity, learn from the past, and fulfill their potential.

The Ripple of Cars: A Nonprofit Video Storytelling Success

The Ripple of Cars explores the connection between car repairs, economic opportunity, and environmental impact. This mini-doc emphasizes transportation challenges as a conflict that impacts lives and careers.

Our main character, Joe Mackenzie, embarks on a journey to address these challenges. He leverages his transferable skills and builds community trust.

Through partnering with Environmental Initiative and raising funds, Joe found a solution that repairs emission systems, provides reliable transportation, and reduces air pollution.

The film concludes with a call to action, inspiring collaboration and emphasizing the ripple effect of positive change in the community.

Conclusion on the 6 Plot Points for Climate Storytelling

Understanding and using the 6 plot points will help you create more engaging and effective stories for your environmental organization.

These plot points—Hook, Conflict, Initiation, Journey, Resolution, and Jab (Call to Action)—serve as a roadmap to captivate your audience and convey your mission. These elements can address storytelling deficiencies, clarify your impact, and inspire action.


Download our storytelling guide to infuse emotions into your stories, making them more resonant and inspiring.

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We're a storyfirst film and video production company, based in Minnesota, specializing in emotive stories that elevate empathy, community, and funding. 

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