*Note from A Chronic Voice: I came across Diana’s website and loved her writing style and tips. Diana strongly believes in the art of storytelling, and we’re honoured to have her share some fantastic tips here! It is my hope that we all learn a thing or two, such that we can share our stories and insight into chronic life in a way that others can relate to.
5 Storytelling Tips to Write Truth in an Engaging Way
Writing about devastating life experiences has two massively liberating effects.
It sets you free while black letters fall on a white piece of paper. As those words that have always been inside of you appear on the outside, it feels like a cage opened and a bird set free to roam the wonders of this world.
But it also can speak to the hearts and depths of others, especially if they can relate to your experiences. Identification is very powerful, it makes us feel connected as if we finally belong somewhere. It can give us the power to face our fears and overcome our demons.
I believe there is something in each and every one of us we can give to this world if we start telling stories. Stories are in our DNA, a universal construct inside the human heart.
But to touch those deep parts of the heart, we need to master at least some basic principles of storytelling. Let me give you 5 simple but powerful tips that will help you write short stories or blog articles in a way that will connect and empower.
Tip #1: Hook with a Strong Premise
You have 2-3 sentences to hook the reader into your story, and they better be good. If your first sentences are not engaging, the reader won’t read the rest – this is a simple truth of our time. We are bombarded with content, and we need something that will hook us from the first moment and never let go.
There are several ways to do this:
- Build suspense by making an outrageous claim or stating a fact that is shocking and needs explanation. The key is to make your reader ask questions and evoke curiosity.
- Open with a story:
Jerry dialed the number, knowing that it would be the last time he did.
This sentence needs to promise a compelling story that your reader just cannot miss.
- Ask a question that connects to your reader. This could be anything related to the topic you want to write about. Make sure that the question is answered later.
- Present a result and an astonishing way to get it:
10 minutes a day is all you need to ban depression forever.
- Ask yourself what your readers want and how you can help them to get it, and include it into your hook.
Tip #2: Let Your Reader Follow an Ordeal of Losses and Victories
Now that your reader is hooked, make sure to state points and arguments to get you to the climax.
If you are writing fiction or something similar to this form (f.e. autobiographical stories), this is where you hero undergoes a path of defeat and victory, leading him closer to the final reveal. Those are the battles she fights to get what she wants.
If it’s non-fiction, this is the section where you present the arguments for your premise. You make the case by convincing your reader, presenting evidence, life experience, and other sources to support your thesis.
Tip #3: Establish High Stakes
Give the reader a reason to go on. What’s at stake?
In fiction, you need to establish the stakes for the character early on, and the stakes better be high. Is it death? Loss of a loved one? Loss of status or money? You need to give us a strong reason to care and root for your heroine.
In non-fiction (like self-help blog articles), the hero is the reader. Their reason to go on reading is whatever you have promised in the beginning. Maybe they need to know how to beat depression, or how to handle a certain life situation. While you build your argument, make sure you tell the reader WHY your story is important.
Tip #4: Get Personal and Honest
This is what separates good storytelling from great: truth.
The reader can sense if the writer knows what he writes about and if he is completely honest. And he will always honour boldness and bravery.
Write from the bottom of your own heart. Write words that hurt, words that you might be afraid to speak aloud, words that make you feel vulnerable. If you make this personal connection, if you show the reader that your writing has substance, then he will be also willing to become vulnerable and open up his heart for your story.
Tip #5: Build a Climax They Will Never Forget
Your whole story is leading to this: the climax.
All of your arguments, your twists and turns, they have to lead to one single point you make. And this has to be a strong point. If you have given the reader a reason to care and to believe that you speak the truth, you now need to present them with a solution to the problem.
Make sure you never leave them empty handed. Instead, give a solution they might not have anticipated, an answer that surprises but at the same time seems logical and clear. This is the moment you build to. Don’t mess it up by making it too weak, or leaving it out completely.
Often, beginning writers list a problem and present arguments, but then leave the reader hanging at the end. We want to know if the hero got what he wanted, and how. And if we are the hero, we need a way to get what we want.
Also, include a “Call to Action” in the end. A revelation, a technique, anything your reader can take into his everyday life after having given your story their time and appreciation.
Structure your short article or story according to those five tips, and you will see how your storytelling becomes instantly more compelling.
Also, I just want to encourage you to write. The more your write, the better you get. And the more you’ll fall in love with the process, the more you’ll see how your own story can empower others.
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