My B2B Marketing Book

  • The Witness
    The Witness
    by Nora Roberts
  • Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less
    Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less
    by Joe Pulizzi

The ABC Story

Are you ever stumped? Looking at that cursor blinking on a white screen and you can't figure out what to write?

Don't be too hard on yourself. Write an ABC story.

It's pretty much what it sounds like. There are 26 sentences, each one starts with the next letter of the alphabet and they must stay in order. But, what you can come up with may surprise you.

The first time I did this was during a retreat a few years ago. At the time, I hadn't realized how expansive I could get with this exercise, but as an example, I'll show you what I came up with.


Announcers hushed their voices for the TV viewers as the best player in the world and a very lucky rookie lined up to tee off on the final two holes for the World Golf Championship. Before the crowd, the players looked focused and ready to go.

"Clearly they've made a mistake," Quinn said, looking at his caddy uncertainly.

"Don't go psyching yourself out, boy," his caddy said. ?Everybody needs their big break and this is your day.?

"Feels more like lining up for the firing squad," Quinn muttered under his breath, hoping no one would notice the sweat breaking out on his brow.

"Give me the driver," he said, holding his hand out for the club with a bravado he clearly didn't feel.

Handing the kid a three wood, the caddy shook his head and then nodded with certainty when Quinn turned doubtful eyes in his direction.

Instinct took over when he set up his stance and he swung the club cleanly through the stroke. Jumping off the clubface, the ball soared high and clear and gave him a nice roll up the fairway.

"Killed it," his caddy whispered, smiling with confidence and slipping the club the kid forgot to hand him out of his hand with the smooth grace of a veteran caddy.

"Looks like the rookie's going to give me a run for my money," Owen told the group, chuckling at the hilarity of the idea before firing a shot that bested Quinn's by a good 20 yards.

Masking his nerves, Quinn confidently walked up to his ball and aimed for the green, only the ball was way left and landed in the rough at least thirty yards off to the side.

"Never let them see you sweat, kid, and you'll be just fine if you open your club face for the chip and relax into a nice easy swing," coached his caddy.

Optimism had never been one of Quinn's high points, but he felt himself relax as his caddy muttered soothing words to him on the way to the next shot. Par was the only option, if he was going to stay in the game.

"Quit tensing up and just let the club do the work," were the caddy's final words before backing off so the kid could take his shot.

Reciting every stance reminder was making him crazy, so he blanked his thoughts and focused on the cup, making it the size of a crater in his mind. Sailing in a lob high above his head, the ball landed behind the cup and then spun back, dropping in at the last minute for the birdie.

The crowd went wild and Owen cursed under his breath when his putt missed the cup by a couple of blades of grass, rolling past by three feet and forcing a par that put Quinn one up going into the hardest hole on the course.

Until that moment, Quinn hadn't actually considered that it was possible that he might have a shot at the win.

Veering off the path, he took a minute to compose himself before taking the walk up to the tee box of the monster final hole that had cost him shots the last three days. With his demons tightly under control, he strode forward, finally confident that this was going to be his day.

Xanadu, Par 5, read the tee sign and he had to will his stomach not to drop. You had to really wind up to hit this one the distance and Quinn set his stance, his determination evident. Zing was the sound the ball made, eliciting awe from the crowd, when his body uncoiled and the club made a perfect arc around his swing plane launching the shot that would make his career.


Not stellar writing, we only had two hours. And that was the point. It's an exercise. But, I have a situation and a couple of characters that just might make a story, if I decided to muck around in it a bit.

As fate would have it, one of my writing groups has started a round robin ABC story -- which means people sign up and draw a letter for the sentence they write and we see if we get a story out of the result.

Anyway, my name came up with the letter "A." So I went first. Here's the sentence I started the group off with:

Anastasia Holland surveyed the rubble of the church, strewn two city blocks by yesterday's tornado, and wondered how she'd ever find the medallion that would keep her safe.

What would you write for the next 25 sentences? If you try this and want to email it to me, I'll post them here...come on, give it a shot!