The client knew he had to talk. He hired me to tell his life story, after all.
But he started getting defensive as soon as I broached the subject that was the turning point in his life, the line that divided before and after.
He was a man of few words, and didn’t like dwelling on the obvious.
That made my job tricky.
His mid-life cancer likely was his motivation 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 more 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.