Get the story started
“Facts tell, stories sell.”
The first song the main character sings in a Disney movie — not to mention many other film and stage musicals — is the “I wish” song, reports Ira Glass in a recent episode of “This American Life.”
In the “I wish” song, the protagonist declares what she wants. That motivation launches the story’s action.
- “Funny Girl” starts with Barbara Streisand wishing to be a star.
- “My Fair Lady” opens with Julie Andrews wishing for a room somewhere.
- The “Hunchback of Notre Dame” begins with Quasimodo wishing he could belong “Out There.”
- Steven Sondheim starts “Into the Woods” with six characters declaring their wishes.
What do your characters wish?
The best corporate stories start with a wish, too.
- Nike’s story began with founder Bill Bowerman wishing he could create a shoe sole that would give runners more traction.
- Hallmark Cards started with entrepreneur J.C. Hall wishing to become a postcard salesman.
- Post-it® Notes began with 3M scientist Art Fry wishing for a bookmark that would stay put in his church hymnal.
Ragan’s David Murray calls these wishes the desk-pounding moment. Disney calls it the “I wish” song. Whatever you call it, it’s a great way to drive action in a story.
What’s your story’s “I wish” song?
Hear Ira Glass sing his “I wish” song.