10 Story Activators That Steal Hearts, Create Empathy & Make Them Fall Hopelessly in Love With You

Let’s look at a story “before”:

Today I want to tell you about that time in 5th grade when I was taken to the principal’s’ office because I was caught cheating. This was a school I hated & a principal I despised so it was doubly mortifying. I still remember how my cheeks burned and my legs shook as I stood there wanting to die.

Let’s do a story “after”:

Have you ever been so embarrassed that your cheeks burned, your legs shook and you just wanted to die? What if this was because you were caught cheating and now stood outside the principal’s’ office waiting your turn to be reprimanded? What if this was at a school that you hated and a principal you despised?
This was me in the summer of 1995 and if you have been there, well my sympathies because I would not wish that fate on my worst enemy.

The before story actually reads pretty well,  it looks like an interesting tale, there are word pictures and you get pulled in immediately.

The problem is the reader is still reading the story like an outsider. Like someone who is detached from the situation, like someone watching a movie with mild interest. Her emotions are under control and she is calm.

She can not feel herself shaking in her boots, instead, her mind eye sees a scrawny, miserable 5th grader stuck in a tough situation.

In short, with the “before” story, she is not emotionally invested in the story, while in the “after” she sees herself… and THAT is what makes the “after” so much better.

The ability of your reader to see themselves in a story, to connect and engage and pulled in hook, line and sinker because now it has become her story.

What every good story needs are story activators. These are phrases that get people fully invested in your story (mind, body & soul) and I am giving you 10 of these magic phrases to activate your own stories and get your people pulled in withal their heart and soul and emotions.

Here are those story activator phrases:
1. Have you ever been in a situation?
2. Imagine yourself at 5 years of age
3. Do you ask yourself…
4. Do you ever notice that…
5. Do you know anyone who…
6. Ever wonder how…
7. Remember when you were in school…
8. Remember the touch, feel & smell of…
9. Do you remember the story of…
10. Can you recall what a (insert strange thing) sounds like?

Use these phrases at the start of your story or even in a story within a story (more on that in a later post) and you will be amazed at how quickly and effortlessly, people will get attracted and invested in your story.

Let me know in the comments how many **mind blown** moments this conjured in your head.

10 story activators that steal hearts, create empathy, and make them fall hopelessly inn love with you10 story activators that steal hearts, create empathy, and make them fall hopelessly inn love with you



  1. Vanessa on October 23, 2015 at 7:58 am

    Awesome list! I love the clarity you put around this

  2. Ryan on November 13, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    Fantastic tips. The first tip in particular allows the reader to connect to the story and draw on experiences that heighten the emotional response. Thanks.

  3. Keri Vandongen on January 24, 2017 at 2:18 am

    This is my favorite post, Bushra.
    Happy to shake up, share and shout out your story starters!

  4. Tandy Elisala on April 20, 2017 at 12:19 am

    Thanks for these tips! This will make my storytelling much better:-)

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(Not your children; this isn't magic!)