I forget where we were going, but I was riding in a kid-packed automobile driven by Mrs. Favreau, one of the neighborhood Moms. As we came around a corner, she said, “Okay, kids, we’re coming up to the singing bridge.” Her children let out a squeal. Evidently, this was a big deal in their household.
The rest of us kids looked puzzled. “Singing Bridge?”
“The bridge sings when you go over it,” the Favreau kids said excitedly. They seemed surprised we’d never heard it before.
I couldn’t get my head around the concept. How does a bridge sing? Like a song? I tried to imagine a bridge that sings Steely Dan, The Eagles, or Bob Seger.
As we approached, the Favreau kids got more excited. “Here it comes!”
I strained to look over the seat to see this special bridge. I recognized it, having crossed it many times before with my parents. I couldn’t remember any singing. But, if the intensity by which the Favreau kids bounced off the car interior was any indicator, we were about to have an over-the-top experience.
I felt the anticipation as the car approached the bridge. I was going to hear my first bridge song. That’s when the car’s rubber tires gripped and slipped their way across the bridge’s metal grating, which created a hum that sounded like bumble bees.
“Do you hear that? It’s singing!” the Favreaus cheered.
I heard it alright and felt disappointed. The bridge wasn’t singing–or at least not in the way that I’d expected. It might have been my first experience of feeling baited & switched.
The Hook (StoryHow™ PitchDeck Card #52) describes a storytelling technique that entices an audience to continue listening. Creating a great hook is complicated because storytellers must balance the level of the audience’s interest with the ability to deliver on the hook’s promise. The deeper the storyteller sets the hook, the higher the audience’s expectation, thus increasing the storyteller’s burden of delivering a satisfactory ending. The greater the mismatch between the expectation and the satisfaction, the greater the rejection of not only the story, but also the storyteller.
Beware of singing bridges. Set believable hooks that will eventually satisfy audiences–or be prepared to suffer the consequences.
Photo Credit: Historic American Engineering Record, Creator. Taiya River Bridge, Skagway, Skagway, AK. Alaska Angoon Dyea Vicinity Skagway Yakutat, 1968. Documentation Compiled After. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/ak0493/.