How To Tell A Good Story: 3 Tips To Get Readers Hooked

If you haven’t watched The Last Dance on Netflix…

Hurry up already!

It’s a documentary about Michael Jordan, his coach Phil Jackson, and Chicago Bulls’ incredible winning streak in the 90s.

Now, I’m no big sports fan. I barely know a thing about basketball…

But this is a master class in storytelling. Absolutely mesmerising.

Each player’s abilities are almost inhuman — but it’s their inner worlds and ambition that make them all so compelling.

It’s rare that you get to watch a story unfold with such a ‘surround sound’ experience, and that you get this kind of no-holds-barred access to such unusual people.

I don’t want to spoil a single second for you, but it’s got three elements that make it unforgettable and are powerful strategies to use when learning how to tell a good story:

1. It’s got a riveting hero’s journey.

The hero’s journey is a staple of good storytelling. It’s the character’s ‘arc’ — their origins, their challenges and opportunities they face along the way, and ultimately the transformation that makes everything feel worthwhile.

In this case?

Ultra-competitive rivalry? Check.

Devastating loss? Check.

Knife-edge stakes? Check.

Just TRY to stop watching Jordan and his team mates claw their way forward to being champions. I bet you five bucks you binge the whole series this weekend. Their hero’s journey is unforgettable.

2. There’s an obvious through-line.

A through-line is a theme that unites everything that happens in documentary, book or film. It’s the big idea that sends you off, thinking, “That documentary was really about the price of ambition.”

And hand to God, I have never encountered ANYONE as ruthlessly ambitious and competitive as Michael Jordan… or as complex. This attitude can be both incredibly powerful and very challenging for other people to handle.

He’s brutal to his team mates, vindictive to other players, and absolutely relentless on himself… and yet, he’s visibly hurt when other people don’t see him as a nice guy.

He can’t understand why his ambition drives people away…

And that contrast creates this incredible tension throughout every episode. And in a narrative, that creates cohesion. It links each episode together, and gives you that DEEPLY satisfying conclusion when everything gets wrapped up.

3. It sticks the landing.

When any narrative ends, the goal is always that it goes out with a bang, not a whimper. You want the ending to feel meaty and satisfying and resolved.

This is called ‘sticking the landing’ — like watching an Olympic gymnast land a perfect dismount after turning 20 flips off a balance beam.

Honestly, endings are really weak in a lot of narratives… and it can leave you feeling a bit ‘meh’ about the whole thing — even if you had really enjoyed it up until that point.

The Last Dance sticks the landing… in every episode. Cliffhangers galore. Surprises everywhere. And the series wraps up strong — and leaving you wanting more. Wishing it would never end.

This series is an unbeatable model for how to tell a good story and I highly recommend you check it out.