January 3

TEDx Talk – The Secret A Story Map Can Reveal

The Secret A Story Map Can Reveal

As many of you know, I participated in a TEDx event hosted by former homeschooling teens we taught many years ago. Here's the video and the transcript of my talk!

I want to thank Amelia Chan of Mathamelia.com, Elia and Charis Ching, and the entire Shoreline TEDx Team for inviting me, and making suggestions. 

Running a TEDx is a monumental task with ever evolving issues rife with bold pivots to make such an event work. May your dedication to your community, homeschooling and beyond, be noticed and appreciated by all. I certainly am grateful for the opportunity. 

I'd like to also thank Writing Coach Shu-Hsien Ho, Writing Coach Jana Van Der Veer of SetYourMuseOnFire.com, writer Eric Lai, and all the students we've work with throughout all these years since 2010. You are all my mentors!

Royd Signature Big

Royd Hatta

Writing Coach


The Secret A Story Map Can Reveal

by Royd Hatta

Tedx Talk - Final Draft #24

(1299 words)

Parenthesized Words = (SLIDES)

Once upon a time, there was a piece of sushi. When the sushi was touched by a chopstick, it turned into a cat. The cat danced happily on the plate for the restaurant. Then a bunny came running and chased the cat away. The cat ran into the kitchen and a chef caught it. The chef loved playing with the sushi cat and he became the owner. The cat chased away all the mice and got food in return. She ate magic pudding and magic milk. The food changed her each day. The next day she turned into a Galaxy Cat. The cat had stars and Planets orbiting around her. 

This is a Story by Renee, age 8 at the time.

It’s full of wonder, innocence, and wisdom.

And a welcome break from our “real world.” 

But isn’t that what stories do? It allows us to enter a special world to gain a new perspective and return to our own world to deal with the problems we have today. 

In that sense, Stories are instructive and inspire us to change. 

For our community of writers, Stories are powerful mentors. 

But how do we HEAR their wisdom?

One way is to refer t  story structure or what we call a story map. 

You might be familiar with Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey as depicted as a Circle. But To us, it looks like a W and a Deep V. 

For over 10 years, our community of young writers and teens has developed with us this map for writing stories, analyzing literature, and finding their own nuggets of wisdom in their own lives. 

To reach these insights, I have to show you how this Story Map works. So I’m going to tell a story of my own—me writing this TED Talk! Watch the slides and follow me. It gets ugly. 


(Happy) This summer I wanted to write 30 articles for students and parents about creative writing. With a bowl of popcorn, I was in my happy place. 

Then one day, (BANG!) I get an email. A former student is running a TED Event. Yay! And he’s inviting us to present. Oh?! (Call to Adventure/REFUSAL OF THE CALL).

But…I have 30 blog posts to write! PLUS there’s a summer class to teach, and my 89-year-old mother is losing her balance. When she falls, it’s hard for her to get up.  (Sad/Stuck/Pressure)

And then, I think back to my high school English class. I’m sweating bullets wondering how to get my head around plots and characters. 

If I’d had the Story Map that we teach today, I might’ve had something more intelligent to say, AND maybe I can save others from being so stressed that they’d have to drink Pepto Bismol for lunch.

That night, my wife, Shu-Hsien, and I email the organizers, “We’re in.” (Portal)

The next day, I enter the wild world of writing the TED Talk. 

Test 1. The first draft is junk! But Breathe! All first drafts are terrible. 

Test 2. My 10th draft is better, but it’s 45 minutes long. Keep going!

Test 3. Luckily, my wife, Shu-Hsien, has her own story that we can use for the talk instead. She’s a 5-year-old, moving from Taiwan to Canada, and she can’t speak a word of English. When she’s pulled onto the ice rink by her friends and teachers, she says, “NO!!!!” At that moment she finds her voice. I’m loving it. (Personal Victory!)

We give it a thumbs up, and Shu-Hsien and I are so relieved. 

Meanwhile, I secretly write my own TedTalk. (Separation and Betrayal)I just can’t get this Map out of my head.

I like it, but when I show it to Shu-Hsien, she says, “You changed the topic again?!! We’re always talking about TED! It’s pulling me from my novel, and a New York editor is waiting for it.”  

Soon Shu-Hsien and I have become so tense with each other that we avoid talking about TED.

With the new semester here, I don’t have time to prep for this talk, my mom has fallen again, and I’m not going to reach my 30 blog goal. 

Which I forgot. I made a promise online. If I don’t do these blogs, I have to pay to a campaign that sounds like Dump.

“That’s it!” Shu-Hsien says. She emails the organizers to tell them, “Sorry, but we have to  pull out.” 

We lower our heads at dinner. (Personal Defeat!)

I rarely back out and quit, but I know we’re overextending ourselves, not to mention losing sleep. 

At night, I toss and turn in my bed and my stomach churns. 

The next day, we get an email from our former student's mom. She tells us how two other speakers have bowed out, they’re looking for new speakers, AND how the organizers put up their own money for this event to fly.

My wife emails: “We apologize… but….

But…I can’t let this slide. (Determined & Comeback)

PEOPLE ARE COUNTING ON ME!  Our former student, his mom who has been a mentor to us for years, and our own community of young writers.

If I can inspire just one person with this map, it would be worth it.

At that moment, I feel my perfectionist (demons) rising above me, telling me, “Don’t embarrass yourself.”

But.. I’m determined to stand up to my fears and make it work.

I email the organizers myself and tell them “I’m back in!”

(Almost Wins) I sit down and “get the story out.” I’m feeling good about it.  

But When I read it, it’s an hour longggg. (All is Lost)

I scramble and cut whole pages. And now my TedTalk is collapsing and falling apart…

And like my mom, I’m starting to lose my balance, and I feel like I’m falling, falling, falling…..

Look, I haven't been published by a major publisher, and I’m not a professor. My lack of authority strikes me, and I feel like a fraud.

Until… Shu-Hsien tells me a story of a teen, who barely spoke in our workshops. One day, her mom called and thanked us for revealing this Map. Her daughter used it for her stories, for her classes, and, every once in a while would pull a nugget of wisdom from it in their conversations. 


At that moment, my self-consciousness, my perfectionism, begin to burn away and I become someone new. Someone who won’t throw away an opportunity to share something with the world.  

I revise for days and edit the Talk. And that’s what you hear today. (Hero Rises)

By clarifying the pattern of stories we can see their age-old wisdom. 

One out of many epiphanies is that we can pull ourselves up from the floor of defeat. 

In every section of the Map, even when (in our final moments) or when we feel “All is lost,” our mentors are there to help us or shout the encouragement we need. But it’s up to us to hear them and choose to make a change in ourselves. 

Remember Galaxy Cat? In her story, she realizes that the mice she chased, and the bunny that chased her were not her adversaries but her allies and mentors. At that moment, she changes from a cat with superpowers into someone with a community. A community that will support her long after the story is over. 

As humans, we are storytellers. And we live by the light of our stories. Our job is to absorb as many as we can, have our adventures, and tell our stories to the world. When we do, we can’t help but be a catalyst.

So here’s your Call to Adventure: Explore YOUR special worlds and Tell us your story. And Together (GALAXY CAT) we can shine like a Galaxy Cat. 


Epiphanies, Real World, TEDx Talk

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