This is the oldest operating system in the world: The MS-DOS. Master it, and you will harness the power of storytelling.
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”
Are you using the proper 3 steps in storytelling?
Are you creating desire? What are the obstacles?
How high are the stakes in your story?
MS-DOS was born. MS-DOS lived a great life. MS-DOS died a quiet and triumphal death.
Most of us will have a similar journey. Yet we would never want our life to be reduced to that: just a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Why are we reducing our stories to those 3 simple acts?
The simplest form of storytelling is called the 3 acts structure: a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Yet if we tell our stories like that, we will hardly find people to listen to us.
This is because we are more than just such a straightforward narrative.
Yes, it is a simple framework to write or tell a story. Yet this story arc is just an oversimplification of a more rich story structure.
An arc represents the transformative journey a character takes in every story.
More than framing our stories with a beginning, a middle, and an end, there are other ways to use the magic trio to achieve that.
We love the number 3 as humans. The MS-DOS structure narrative just accomplishes that in a more compelling way.
Are you ready to be an MS-DOS?
Yes, MS as Master Storyteller is the journey we will embark on through this story.
Instead of trying to tell our story as a beginning, a middle, and an end, we can use the DOS framework:
- D as Desire
- O as Obstacles
- S as Stakes
With the DOS approach, we can turn every event, every change in our life, into a story worth telling.
We are not using a linear approach. We are using a diamond approach.
We label each face of our story as a desire, obstacle, or stake.
Then we can tell the story just by using our voice as the light that makes the diamond shine.
1. D AS DESIRE — Every desire has two aspects: one internal and one external. For a great story, both are needed.
The external desire is what we want to get from the world. It will force us to go from our ordinary world to a quest.
It can be something material or not. The external desire or want is out there, either somewhere outside our ordinary world or in our everyday world. In that case, it is in the hands of a person who will not hand it over to us easily.
The external desire or want serves one purpose and one only: to help us solve our internal desire or our internal need.
Because we are missing something internally, we go into a journey hoping to get that external thing.
We strongly believe that external want is the solution to our internal needs.
Each time we want to tell a compelling story, we need to know two things: our emotional (internal) need and the (external) want to help us bridge the inner gap.
All human beings know what a desire is and how it feels to go on a journey to get it.
2. O AS OBSTACLES — More than just a middle, this second step is full of obstacles, and a lot of them.
There can be internal or external obstacles. Through obstacles, we get a lot of conflicts.
As said by Ryan Holiday,
“The obstacle is the way!”
As humans, we are all tested through obstacles. Because life is not a smooth journey, we get obstacles in our way to get what we want to solve our emotional needs.
We are conflicted in so many ways because of the presence of those obstacles.
An external obstacle can create an internal conflict or vice versa. Sometimes it is the other way around.
Internal (respectively external) obstacles create internal (respectively external) conflicts.
As our character faces obstacles, we resonate with the conflicts that arise within or externally.
Coming back to the example of Walter White, he has faced a lot of obstacles. Even though he is not our typical hero, we understand his conflicts as human beings because we resonate with his desire.
A story with no obstacles, no conflict is just that: boring and unrealistic.
Make sure to identify one or two obstacles that created a conflict in your story.
3. S AS STAKES — Because the stakes are high, there are a lot of emotions for our character. Because we understand the character, we can tune in to their emotions more deeply.
Because we are invested in the character, we create empathy in the eyes of the ones listening to our story.
Emotions and empathy are the most powerful connectors of all human beings.
Beyond words, we can all resonate with a song even if we don’t understand the language of the song.
That is the power of music: it speaks to us through the universe’s vibrations because it elicits emotions into us.
We can feel joy or sadness. We can root for a character because we understand where they are coming from.
Walter White in Breaking Bad is not your typical drug dealer. Instead, he does despicable things throughout the whole series.
Yet because we understand where he is coming from, we are happy when he triumphs, even if it is through violence.
A story without emotions cannot create empathy. It is like watching a movie with bad audio, no matter if the pictures are in ultra-high definition.
When the stakes are high in your story, so are the emotions. Then people can connect, they can empathize, and your story will hit home.
There you have it: the DOS (Desire, Obstacles, Stakes) approach to be the Master Storyteller (MS).
As you are crafting your story in each scene, you must ask yourself the following questions:
- Who wants what?: Desire
- Why now?: Obstacles
- What will happen if they don’t get it?: Stakes
The MS-DOS storytelling approach is powerful because it is the most ancient form of storytelling.
Yes, it can fit in the 3 acts structure: beginning, middle, and end.
Yet it is more powerful because it talks to the most powerful entity within our head: our primitive brain.
Suppose you want to tell a compelling story. Frame it to match the DOS arc structure. Then you will be able to tap into the caves of human brains.
Because in the end, we are beings with desires, obstacles, and stakes.
MS-DOS is the language of every human heart.
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