5) ELIZABETH STULBERG: Expanding the ABT over an entire document

After my first Story Circle experience, I immediately began using the ABT in emails, policy briefs, and presentations. I found it incredibly effective, not only for keeping an audience’s attention but also for helping me focus my message. However, figuring out how to apply the ABT, or other narrative devices like the Logline Maker, to longer statements was still out of reach to me. It wasn’t till I immersed myself in a second Story Circle that I began finding ways to incorporate ABTs into the structure of an entire document, as opposed to simply stringing them together.

For example, in a recent climate change statement, I not only wrote a loose ABT into each paragraph, but the paragraphs themselves served as “And,” “But,” and “Therefore” statements in each section of a document. Further still, I used my ABT training to distill each section of the document into a single line, its heading, and made sure that these headings, when read together, would also be in the ABT format. I was not the sole author of this statement, however. Others felt there were two problems that were important enough to be addressed, and so although my original version had only one “But” section, the final version included two complementary challenges (“Buts”) and two proposed solutions (“Therefores”). I am proud of the final version of this statement – although it is not as “strictly” ABT as I would have preferred, it is readable, accessible, and covers the issues important to the scientists I worked with.