Way back in elementary school, we learned about the elements needed to write a good story. Our teachers explained to us the need for:

  • A well thought out theme with an engaging introduction that clearly set the scene
  • A conflict in the plot, or problem to be solved, that involved the main character
  • A proper resolution that left the reader satisfied that the story had reached its ending

Fast forward several years and, while you might not be composing fourth-grade creative writing stories about your pet dog and his worldly adventures, you are writing Stories. Scrum Stories where the purpose of the Story is to deliver a high-level definition of a requirement.

These Stories look and sound very different than those canine-inspired tales when you were 10. But are the necessary elements of writing a great Story all that different?

Come sit cross-legged on the carpet in the front of the classroom and let’s learn about the 5 elements you need to write a good Story, Scrum-style. (Don’t worry. If the thought of sitting cross-legged on the floor makes your joints ache, we’ll give you a pass, and you can stay at your desk.)

Story-Card-Anatomy

1. An Engaging Title That Reels In The Reader

Like the introduction of your fourth-grade story, this Story needs a Title that accurately captures the work at hand. Think of it as the text on the billboard for your project. It should be short and sweet.

2. An Intriguing Conflict/Problem to be Solved

What’s a good Story without a little drama? The Story Description sets the stage by clearly presenting the conflict/problem to be solved. A well-written description will answer the who, what and why of the Story.

Who: The customer/end user
What: The goal/function
Why: The benefit/business value.

Frequently, a common template is used: As a (type of user), I want (goal) so that (benefit).

3. Important Background Information That Adds to the Plot

A good story always includes critical background information that colors the plot. In Scrum Story writing, we can think of this background information as the Epic, the motherload of Stories that is too big, complex, unknown or risky for the Team to agree to do all at once.

4. Vivid Details to Paint an Accurate Picture

Estimating the size of a Story is key in great Scrum Story writing. As we’ve said before, the goal of sizing Stories isn’t to establish a fool-proof prediction of the future. Rather, it is to gain clarity through collaboration and information as to what the PO wants. To this end, estimating Stories is done in units of relative effort known as Story Points. And those Story Points are the vivid details that paint the most accurate picture of the size or effort of the undertaking.

5. A Resolution/Solution to the Conflict/Problem

In your fourth grade story, after completing his worldly adventure, your pet dog trots home with a delicious bone in his mouth, followed by a satisfying, “The End.” In Scrum Story writing, the satisfying “The End” takes the form of the DoD, or Definition of Done, the criteria that must be met to consider the Story “Done.”

And They Lived Scrummily Ever After

Now, get up from sitting on the classroom carpet and write some great Stories. If you’re looking for additional tips on writing Stories, we’ve got more here.

And, if you’d like more hands-on help with your Story writing, we’ve got training for that. (Take us up on it. It would make your fourth grade teacher proud!)

As Always, Stay Agile.

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