A template for storytelling

Goldfinger - James Bond

For the world’s top secret agent, James Bond is pretty by the book.

Everyone has his favorite actor among the six who’ve played him in the 23 official films. I grew up watching Roger Moore, skipped over the two Timothy Dalton installments and enjoyed the heck outta Pierce Brosnan. (Though “Die Another Day” is atrocious.)

Daniel Craig took over in 2006, but I hadn’t seen any of his films until I watched all three on DVD this year. They’re terrific, though I miss a little of the Brosnan-era campiness.

You’ll note that I missed the one who started it all, Sean Connery. I turned to my Bond-fanatic friend for a recommendation, and he immediately replied, “Goldfinger.”

He swore by it, and many fans think it’s the best Bond in the 53-year franchise.

It was quite a shock to me, watching “Skyfall” (2012) and then jumping back almost 50 years to Connery’s third film as Bond (1964). By then, he and the character were international sensations. The world couldn’t get enough 007.

“Goldfinger” has a certain charm with three Bond girls, including Pussy Galore, who some consider the most memorable of the entire franchise. And the Aston Martin with the ejector seat and the oil slick and dashboard radar. And those Shirley Bassey vocals on the namesake song. And the titular villain who not only has two of the largest maps of Fort Knox ever but also treats his nemesis to a mint julep.

Critics say it holds up well over the years. “Goldfinger” is a box office smash and becomes the template for Bond films for another 5 decades and counting.

That is one sturdy template. Six Bond actors, 13 directors and $5 billion in revenue.

The typical script starts out with Bond on an unrelated mini-mission before the opening credits, which are in a little art film of their own (always with female silhouettes and guns). Our favorite agent learns his new mission, stocks up on gadgets with Q, travels to exotic locales and beds gorgeous women, squares off with a memorable baddie and his henchmen, and celebrates victory with a companion.

That’s as by the book as it gets.

Could we have a successful template for our storytelling purposes? Can we get away with being by the book all the time?

We might think of templates as time-saving shortcuts. I use a template for the weekly email newsletter.

We might think of them as an uninspired way to approach stories, whether in entertainment or marketing.

Dig deep into your brand’s story. Maybe you can creatively tell it differently each time. Or maybe you can find a template that’s worth using repeatedly: For example, customer has problem, customer discovers your product, customer solves problem and lives happily ever after.

That’s a formatted story your loyal fans might enjoy hearing again and again, even if the plot or the main character changes slightly each outing.

It took three tries before the Bond producers found their winning formula. Don’t be afraid to tinker with your storytelling, and when you find a great template, run with it!

That’s an approach which has kept 007 on top for half a century.

More in our series on storytelling:
Storytelling in Depth | Power of Storytelling

 

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About Wade Kwon

Wade Kwon is conference director for Y'all Connect. See his full bio.

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