1) LIZ FOOTE: “Once you go ABT, you’ll never go back …”

In 2016, I was a delegate at the IUCN World Conservation Congress. I was invited to attend because I was working on the campaign team to encourage President Obama to expand the boundaries of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

As part of that congress, we were supporting a motion to protect at least 30% of the world’s ocean. As part of our team, I was tasked with drafting the “intervention statement” on behalf of the state of Hawai’i.

I went about it by using the ABT format. I wrote three paragraphs.

The first one was the “and” paragraph setting up the ordinary world, which was that we’d managed to protect 2% of the ocean so far.

The second paragraph presented the problem: the need for greater protection of the ocean.. As this overall statement was a piece of diplomacy, I chose to soften the problem statement a bit by using “however” instead of “but.”

For the last paragraph I started with “Therefore” and outlined how this motion was an important step towards that goal, that would benefit Hawai’i and the world.

I handed it in. A bunch of people on our team set to work revising it. They made lots of changes, BUT … here was the interesting and important thing that occurred.

When when the final version came out, I saw that they had changed a lot of the CONTENT, but not the FORM. The basic ABT structure of set up, problem, and solution was untouched. The second and third paragraphs still started with “however” and “therefore.”

The key point of this experience was that despite all the revisions in the specific wording (the CONTENT), nobody messed with the basic ABT structure (FORM). This seems to be a basic rule of the ABT, that once you lock on to the ABT structure it’s almost never going to happen that someone decides to go back to AAA or DHY structure.

Once I realized this, I emailed Randy about it, and, like clockwork, he put it in his next book, “Narrative is Everything.”