You know that person who can tell you the most ah-mazing story that leaves you hanging on every word, yet you walk away and realize you were just listening to an embellished tale of garden snails? Yeah, I’m NOT that person. At dinner parties, the kids’ bedtimes – I stink at telling stories, but I love to write.
I took an amazing workshop on how to write an effective email newsletter, called *The E-Letter Atelier. Part of the course syllabus is to determine the writing style or container your newsletter will adopt. Out of the choices provided I chose the narrative style. The problem with this style of writing is it’s best delivered through a story (eeeek).
Stories Are Everywhere
Everyone seems to want a story these days! A story “must” be behind every picture, every product, and every decision — or does it? Do I need a back story on how to get more Twitter followers or Evernote tips? Probably not.
There are times when stories are very helpful — perhaps even arguably necessary — like the story behind your brand or for bringing an idea alive. However, I have a hard time seeing stories relating to my day-to-day business. I wondered, how I can continue to write in the narrative style, keep my posts interesting, but not fret if there’s no tale to tell?
While reflecting on this point in the E-Letter class, one of the other course members (thank you Patricia Lawless) pointed out that instead of, “Fitting everything into the classic definition of ‘a story,’ more of ‘a conversation’. I get the impression you’re a good talker.”
Why yes, Patricia I’ve been known to run my mouth a bit — I adore good conversation. Aha moment! I only need to get that conversation on the page. I can do this easily with voice notes and transcribe from there.
This also got my gears turning on other ways to get over this whole woe-is-me, “I’m not a storyteller” thing and get back to writing.
Keep it short.
Stories don’t have to be long, and neither do blog posts. I like to think of my posts as short(-ish) stories; sometimes even postcards if it’s a How-To post.
Let it go.
Not all writing needs a story. If you’re writing about facts, tips, or a concept that needs the context a story can provide, don’t sweat it. Go with a tried and true approach of
Intro ⇒ Problem/Issue/Need, etc ⇒ How it’s solved with examples or illustrations ⇒ Closing paragraph ⇒ CTA.
Wait it out.
If you have an article idea in mind and think it needs a story, write out your article using the above method, and walk away, let it breathe. You’ve got the core information down, now be on the look out for an appropriate story match-up.
Write your stories first.
The opposite of waiting it out, if you have a great story, or anecdote to tell, go ahead and write it down. You never know when you’ll be able to apply that story to a future topic.
Give up & move on.
The previous tips are to keep you writing narratives, but if it’s not working for you, by all means switch up writing in another format that suits your natural style best.
Do I realize that I just wrote this article using a story? Sure do—write ’em when you got ’em, right?
*PS: If you need help with branding, copywriting, are a self-assessment junkie AND want great content presented in a way that allows you the time and brain-space to assimilate the information, you must look into the Voice Bureaus’ courses.