“How did I feel about having cancer? Bad!”
The client knew he had to talk. He hired me to tell his life story, after all. But he was a man of few words. He didn’t like dwelling on the obvious. And while he was deeply introspective, he rarely volunteered information about himself.
That made my job tricky.
His mid-life cancer was the turning point in his life, the dividing line between before and after. I suspect that without it, he would not have been motivated to write this book. This episode would be the focus of more than one tenth of his 60,000-word memoir.
But he wasn’t ready to respond to my prodding.
So, instead of asking subjective questions about this very personal experience, I asked objective questions like the following.
By framing this very personal ordeal in objective terms, the client was able to look beyond himself. He could frame it as an experience similar to making his first million dollars, or moving his company to new headquarters.
And once he got going, he felt comfortable looking inward and sharing the kinds of personal observations that make the story much more powerful.
His story now has a heart as well as a litany of facts, and will be much more appealing to his readers.