Tell a Story People Want to Read: An Excerpt From Write Like You Mean It
I was approached recently by a gentleman who was writing a book about poverty. A few of his goals were to shine a light on the epidemic, pepper his first chapter or two with a slew of sobering statistics, and then dive into how he's been getting people out of poverty for good.
As he handed it to me, he admitted that what he had so far was too clinical and certainly not something someone would read cover to cover unless they were forced to.
It was missing something, and it was obvious to me: storytelling.
Rather than draw readers in with something relatable – stories about his own experiences, specific people who pulled themselves from the depths of poverty and are now thriving, etc. – he instead focused on statistics, ideas, key principles, and matter-of-fact writing. His book had great content and purpose, but it was written like a boring textbook.
It was missing a soul – that storytelling element that serves the book's purpose, gives people a reason to read, evokes emotion, and, hopefully, spurs them to join the cause.
Chapter 10 of my book, Write Like You Mean It: Mastering Your Passion For The Written Word (published by Brown Books Publishing Group), talks about the importance of quality storytelling and its impact on whatever you set out to write – a novel, magazine article, blog post, or the like. Writers don't just write. We tell stories that make what we're writing about relatable and personal. And we want readers to feel every moment of that process.
The excerpt below is a peek behind the curtain at what I mean by storytelling:
Storytelling can take your writing beyond a connection to your audience and make an actual impact on their lives. This is that amazing moment when writing goes beyond words, mechanics, and research and becomes transcendent. As writers, we must write compelling content in a way that speaks to the reader. Whatever you write should be easy to read and make the reader want to keep reading. But more importantly, as you push the story forward, each sentence should evoke emotions such as anticipation, sadness, fear, relief, surprise, or anger. If your readers don't experience those emotions, maybe you should try harder with how you're telling stories. It has always bothered me when I read something with no passion or imagination. I call it the "white noise effect." Much like a snowy picture on your TV when it has little or no signal, if whatever you're writing is robotic and reads exactly like what everyone else is churning out, then you've accomplished nothing besides putting everyone to sleep.
How do you learn to be a better storyteller? Would you like to see specific examples? Then all you have to do is pick up my book. This book is for writers of all experience levels, genres, and professional pursuits. Whether you’re a journalist, college writer, aspiring freelancer, or future novelist, this book is for you, so you too can Write Like You Mean It!
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Thank you for reading!
*STEVE GAMEL is the President & Owner of Edit This, a writing and editing services company located in Denton, TX, and the author of Write Like You Mean It: Mastering Your Passion For The Written Word. Steve handles anything involving the written word. Give him a call today to help give your business a clear voice.