05/28/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Marketing the Story

I'm not in politics, don't live in Hollywood and am not part of the "industry."

I'm a writer and teacher who concentrates on the "story," and, fortunately for me, we live in an era of great stories and unlimited outlets and platforms to tell them.

I was struck by an insert in Sunday newspapers for the HBO movie, "Recount," because it showed how well a story can be told, even when it's camouflaged in advertising supplements.

Long and thin, with all kinds of official-looking language and in red, white and blue -- and full of hanging chads, some of which are still lodged in my carpeting -- the insert resembled a large ballot. Copy and headings included "Insert card...this side up" and "Official Ballot General Election Palm Beach County, Florida, November 7, 2000."

And, just in case no one got it, the marketing people continued this short story with the tagline, "The future of the nation was hanging by a chad."

This piece was a great reminder that a story can be told not only in a memoir, novel, historical non-fiction, poetry, YouTube video, Myspace blog or a few dozen words of a song lyric.

No one needs to tune in to "Recount" to find out who won the 2000 Presidential election, but the entire story, told seven years ago over a period of agonizing hours and weeks, was all brought back instantly with one insert and a dozen chads falling out of the newspaper.

That's good storytelling.