Find Your Startup’s Billion Dollar Story

The trick is to write the ending first and work backwards

Joe Procopio

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Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

Think about your favorite television show.

I’m willing to bet that it started off a little slow, then hooked you. It had a great season in the middle of its run, then ended in a way that was either wholly satisfying or frustratingly flat.

This is how episodic writing creates a great long-term story. Now, what if I told you that building a startup, by its very nature, follows the same episodic storyline. So let’s figure out how to apply this kind of storytelling to your business, and write an ending that’s wholly satisfying and successful.

Then we’ll carve out the path to get you there.

Every scripted television series follows three main arcs.

The A-story arc is each episode. It’s what is happening in front of you right now. Almost all the episodes are self-contained, and each A-story can be enjoyed on its own. However, there are always plot lines that don’t get wrapped up at the end of each episode, because they point to a larger story arc.

The B-story arc is each season. It has its own expanded plot, new twists, maybe even new characters. The B-story usually has its own beginning and end, but new seasons don’t completely start over from scratch. Rather, a new season picks up where the last season left off, and it ends with the expectation of a new B-story next season.

The C-story arc is the overarching story of the entire series. The C-Story plot might progress a little bit this week or may not move forward at all. But a good series keeps us interested in the ultimate end game with every single episode.

This is not how television always worked.

Up until about the 1990s, television series were almost exclusively a parade of loosely-connected A-stories, with maybe a razor thin seasonal arc and a retro-fitted series arc only when cancellation was inevitable.

The B-story season arc wasn’t so much a storytelling device as it was a means to keep viewers interested in each A-story episode. Characters got married (to increase ratings), maybe had a kid…

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Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com