What the Russians Knew

They’re impossible to beat at land-based war. And close to unbeatable as storytellers. From Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” to “The Brothers Karamazov” by Dostoevsky, the Russians are the masters.

One skill they developed that many haven’t is the ability to distinguish the фабула, or fabula, from сюжет, or sujet. The fabula is the chronology of events, the sujet, is the way you structure the story – the characters you bring out to the fore, the challenges they face.

The story you need to tell may not involve five families over a couple of decades, like Mr Tolstoy’s. But even if it’s simple – the story of your brand or a new product – your audience will relate to it if you find a the optimal structure for it. And the best structured stories have a crisis, a victim, a hero and a resolution.