The Stinky Cow Principle

Stinky cowCow photo via Unsplash by livin4wheel

Writer and memoirist Andy Raskin has been preaching the gospel of story to corporations for years. In a recent essay, he proposed a storytelling guideline, called the Stinky Cow Principle, that is equally applicable to personal stories on Retrospect.

He cites the example of a student in a storytelling workshop who, asked how he came to his profession, said simply, “I was trying to make it in the film business. But it wasn’t working out.” But when Andy asked him to describe the moment he knew it wasn’t working out, the student painted a verbal picture involving the Discovery Channel, a van, and a dead, putrid cow that brought the moment to life.

Andy suggests:

Tell incidents as scenes, not as summaries.

That’s good advice for all stories, not just corporate ones.

You can read Andy’s essay, and the student’s Stinky Cow story, on Medium. Write on!

Buy Andy’s memoir, The Ramen King and I, on Amazon