I never excelled at math but I understood enough about formulas to create this one decades ago:
"content + context + value = emotionally meaningful story"
What does it mean? Lawyers are storytellers. Your client's legal story depends on power, passion and precision to develop and deliver a persuasive argument. Otherwise, the story is equivalent to "water, fire, marshmallows, silicone - now draw your conclusions."
Our justice system turns on legal elements. But those legal elements came about because somebody did something to somebody else under a set of circumstances. Facts are necessary to prove the case; but it is the personal, emotional and conflicting aspects of the case that create compelling stories from the same forensic fact pattern.
Whether you are writing a brief, preparing for alternative dispute resolution or presenting your case to a jury, there is no substitute, no silver bullet, no simple technique that substitutes for hard work, creativity and this formula: content + context + human value = emotionally meaningful story.
The same holds true for anyone who uses narrative to relate, motivate, innovate, incite, appeal, agitate, and so on.
Click here to read Maggie Koerth-Baker's article, "The Mind of a Flip-Flopper," delving into the scientific research studying moral attitudes, the ways in which emotions and attitudes interact and, how to change a strongly held belief. Excerpt.
"Moral attitudes are especially difficult to change, Haidt said, because the emotions attached to those preferences largely define who we are. “Certain beliefs are so important for a society or group that they become part of how you prove your identity,” he said. “It’s as though we circle around these ideas. It’s how we become one.”
We tend to side with people who share our identity — even when the facts disagree — and calling someone a flip-flopper is a way of calling them morally suspect, as if those who change their minds are in some way being unfaithful to their group. This is nonsense, of course. People change their minds all the time, even about very important matters. It’s just hard to do when the stakes are high. That’s why marshaling data and making rational arguments won’t work. Whether you’re changing your own mind or someone else’s, the key is emotional, persuasive storytelling." [emphasis added.]
How come story works this way? Here's one answer:
"Timothy Wilson is a psychology professor at the University of Virginia and the author of the book “Redirect,” about how we change our minds and behavior. Stories are more powerful than data, Wilson says, because they allow individuals to identify emotionally with ideas and people they might otherwise see as “outsiders.” Wilson says researchers speculate that children who grew up seeing friendly gay people on TV will be more likely to support gay marriage as adults, regardless of other political affiliations and religious beliefs. Once you care about a character, Wilson says, you can find a way to fit them into your identity." [emphasis added.]
TIP: content + context + value = emotionally meaningful story.