Have you any more great stories like that? he said in the most sarcastic tone you’ve ever heard! Makes you wonder if I’m the best man to be telling you how to write better stories, but bare with me.
Yup, I have the type of friends that aren’t afraid to tell you when your “interesting” story was about as interesting as watching paint dry.
However online, it’s a whole different ball game.
Why we need better stories
We won’t have friends who’ll suffer through our terrible stories or anecdotes out of politeness. All we’ll have are readers who get bored and leave, so we have to learn how to write better stories.
Storytelling for us as humans is an everyday occurrence, whether it’s the story of our weekend, vacation or misfortune, everything and I mean everything that we perceive to be important is delivered in story form.
Even that little white lie we tell the boss as to why we’re late has some sort of a story attached.
When it comes to telling a story face to face to a friend or colleague we’re almost like Roald Dahl or Steven King (or at least that’s how I feel at times), we love to tell a good story or a bad one as the case can sometimes be.
However, we as bloggers can be the world’s worst for not telling stories or telling them poorly, which is why I am a firm believer that learning how to write better stories is one of the best things we can do for our blogs .
Whether it’s the inability to convey the right message or tone through the medium of text or the thought that “people who don’t know us don’t want to hear our silly story”, we just can’t seem to get it right even when we try.
Which is a shame, because the right story can do wonders for us and our blogs. Stories convey emotion, build a connection, teach, transform and transport our readers and we as the storytellers get credit in the bank for that.
The beauty of a good story
The beauty of a good story is that it doesn’t have to be deep and insightful, or profound, as long as it carries a message it can work wonders with our audience. Take this article I wrote about Instagram video, it’s a story, but it carries a very real message and advice for bloggers
To put it in its simplest form, stories help our audience connect with us on a personal level and form a relationship that’s built on more than just information or entertainment.
This is especially true when they can see themselves, or their journey, in our stories. We as humans strive to make real and meaningful connections with people, that’s just how we are hardwired.
So by not telling our story we are actually denying our audience a chance to connect with us.
Now with all that said, there are a number of key points when it comes to telling stories in your blog post, keeping these in mind as you go will help your story have more of an impact and indeed reach.
How to write better stories
1. What’s the point
Before you being to tell your story, think about the message you are trying to convey. Not how you will tell the story but rather what you want your reader to take away from the story.
Having a clear idea of the “message” will help you write better stories.
2. Give it emotion
The difference between a standard blog post and a story is emotion. When we tell a story we tend to use more emotive words that try and convey how we are/were feeling at that time.
These emotions help bring our reader along with us and help them to immerse themselves in the story. Try and use emotive where possible.
3. Make it relatable
Give your reader every chance to connect with your story. Use scenarios and examples that you feel they can relate to. You want them to be able to cringe with you, cry with you or laugh with you.
We have all been there and so have your readers, so remember that. Use phrases like: “you know that feeling….” or “Do you remember when…” because it makes our readers think back to a time when they felt it or where in that situation too.
All this helps build that connection and transport them into our story.
4. Keep it short
A story is very much like a bus journey, the aim of the story and indeed the bus is to take you from A to B. You wouldn’t stay on a bus longer than you have to and our readers will only stay with our story as long as they feel they have to.
How many times when asked about a film you saw have you told the person you felt it was a bit “drawn out” and that it probably could have been wrapped up sooner?
That is what we don’t want people to say about our story, so try and keep reasonably short.
5. Write like you speak
Don’t try and use words you wouldn’t normally use. Speak to your reader as if they were in the room with you. They want to feel as if you’re speaking to them, not spouting out of you like someone who just swallowed a thesaurus.
There is nothing wrong with broadening your vocabulary, but do it when the situation calls for it, not every second or third sentence because you want your audience to think your smart.
You have to make it easy to read, if it is too taxing, your readers will leave. Quite often blogs serve as a kind of “escapism” for our readers, so don’t make them think too hard about it if they don’t have to.
A good way of making your story sound more natural is to stick your words together like you would when you speak. More often than not you would say “we’re” rather than “we are” or “its” instead of “it is”. Go through your story and try and eliminate as many of these as you can.
Not only will it help you write better stories, but it’ll make it sound more natural and make it easier to read.
6. Don’t make assumptions
Finally, don’t assume that every reader is going to understand the “meaning” behind your story. Sometimes we as the storyteller fail to properly convey the intended message and sometimes our readers can be a bit slow on the uptake.
So the best way to avoid this is to be very clear when it comes to reflecting on the story. Using phrases like; “the point of the story wasn’t/ was to show…” or “I guess this just goes to show….”
Whatever way you word it, you need to make it clear. This is also a good time to look at the story as a whole and ask yourself the following questions:
- Why is this relevant?
- What’s the moral or point?
- Who is this message for?
- Have I answered any questions I posed to the reader?
There are many types of stories and anecdotes, not all will require a great level of thought, some will only be a few lines long and will just flow out of you which is great.
Whether you go into great detail and consider each of the above points or not the most important piece of advice I can give you is simply this:
Tell more stories, practice will help you write better stories.There are tv channels dedicated to “real life stories”,people love to hear them so don’t be afraid to put yours out there.
and if all else fails, remember this:
“Facts tell, stories sell.”