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The Setting

The setting of your story should be the next thing you talk about right after your hook question.  When you’re talking about the setting of your story, I want you to remember two rules:

  1. Keep it short and sweet
  1. Use a minimum amount of details

These two rules are important because as men we tend to be detail oriented, and if we do the “man” thing and give her too many details about the setting of our story, it will definitely bore her.  Remember that women care most about the interactions between people in the stories they listen to.  They also care about things like the respective social statuses of the people in the story as well and how the interaction affected you, but the interaction between the story’s characters is always paramount.  Women generally do not care about the time of day, the weather, why and how you got to the place, what you were doing before the story took place, etc. so each time you include more unnecessary information you risk progressively boring the girl more and more until she mentally checks out (which could only take a few seconds even).  That’s when she “has to go to the bathroom” and you lose her for good.

So…  just to make this abundantly clear, let’s go through an example.  In workshops when I teach storytelling, I’ll have a student tell me a story then I’ll tell the story back to him in a way that I would tell it to a girl.  One particular workshop I had a guy start his story with this:

“So like two weeks ago I had to go to the doctor because I had my regular checkup, and his office was on the east side of town like far away so I decided to drive instead of taking the subway or an uber, and when I was on the way there I came to a stoplight and rolled my window down because the person next to my car….”

This student’s story was about an interaction he had with the person in the car next to him.  It wasn’t about the doctors office, it had nothing to do with a regular checkup, two weeks ago didn’t matter, and it didn’t matter that the office was on the east side of town and that’s why he was driving.  It also didn’t matter that he normally takes the subway or uber. Those details are secondary to the purpose of the story, which was to talk about an interaction with another person.

Can you see how all of those details are completely unnecessary?

When I told the story back to the student, I simply started the story with a hook question and then setup the setting of the story very quickly by saying “So I drove up to a stoplight the other day, and when I looked to my left…”

And that’s it!

This brings up two important lessons:

  1.  Trim the fat – This goes for your whole story, not just the setting, and “trimming the fat” means that you should take out all the extra details in your story that don’t apply to the story itself.  In this case, all this stuff about driving and the doctor’s office and the east side of town just serves to confuse the person listening, because they might wrongly assume that they need to know these details for the story to make sense, and when they pay too much attention to trying to remember details that aren’t important, the story gets hard to listen to and the person listening becomes annoyed.  We don’t want that, so remember to trim the fat!
  1. Secondary identity hooks – Notice how those details above were secondary to the purpose of the story, and what happens when you hear those details is that you register them and then you quickly stop thinking about them because you focus on the details of the story afterwards.  This is an important thing to understand because you can use these secondary details in a story to implant details about your identity that you want a girl to gather without having to directly brag about them.

Let’s go through a quick secondary identity hook that relates to that last story.  Let’s say that you’ve been doing some MMA training and you want the girl to know that about you, but you don’t want to brag about it.  If this was the case with me, I would start the above story by saying:

“So I was on the way to my MMA training the other day, and when I got to the stoplight, the person next to me was crazy!…”

Notice here that the story is about this crazy person in the car next to me, and that my MMA training was of secondary importance in the sentence.  The girl will here that detail about you and possibly after your story say something like “So wait, you’re like an MMA guy?” but she won’t think you said that detail on purpose to her to brag (making you try-hard).  This is a great way to peak her curiosity about you and to further the conversation after your story.  If you wanted to be even more subtle about this you could leave out the MMA part and just say “training” because that might peak her curiosity even more.

The more subtle you are about your secondary identity hooks, the better they will work for you.  

The reason for this is that women like to play detective when they encounter a man they just met, and often the withholding of details from the woman will peak her curiosity such that when you do offer a subtle hint she’ll almost always pick up on it and want more information.  When she becomes curious about a guy and asks him more about herself, that’s her showing interest!  And since you’re smart, you were able to peak her interest using secondary identity hooks instead of obviously trying hard to brag.  Congratulations, you’ve just stopped being try-hard and now you’re the guy who woman are interested in, simply because you have no apparent need to directly explain everything about yourself in an attention-seeking manner!

Summing this all up, remember when you talk about the setting of your story not to bore the girl with too many details because they’re only confuse her, annoy her, and make her want to stop talking to you immediately.  Instead, trim the “fat” (the extraneous details) and only include relevant details to your story and secondary identity hooks if you’d like to use them.  In this manner you can setup the setting of your story quickly in order to get to the meat and potatoes of your story, the characters and the interaction between them.

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