Tell a Good Story

Blogging can take many forms but looking around the web the most popular still seems to be the journal/diarist style. There is no reason why this type of blog can not fall into the “pro” category, indeed this is the way many pro bloggers have cut their teeth. Also the “I, me, my, let me tell you about my life” style of writing is often put to good use by bloggers talking about everything from gadgets to marketing. I feel the one element that seperates the good from the blah is the quality of the story telling. Here are some tips for telling good stories.

We here at Performancing tend towards the tutorial type of post. When we talk about our lives or what we are up to it tends to be just to illustrate a point. Other blogs though have the bloggers experience as the whole point. In those blogs you will not get very far if you impart the news like you are telling your spouse or parent what you did that day, a good story telling technique is vital.

Not all these points will be relevant. If your story is about a new client win you might not want to make it a laugh riot, for example. You might find though a few ideas how you can enrich your next story post and attract a deeper readership.

  • Do start with a good title – the title, being the first thing the reader will see, is the advertisement for the whole story, it can succeed or fail on this one detail
  • Do give a taste of what is to come early to draw them in – after the title you need a great first paragraph. A well written intro will mean the reader can not leave until they have read the whole thing.
  • Do bring the story to life with rich, colourful writing – with an article or tutorial you can more often get away with “just the facts”, with a story though your writing needs to be more lively. You need to paint a picture in your readers mind, evoke sounds, smells and emotions.
  • Do show conflict, tension, suspense and finally resolution – while it isn’t necessary to have complex interwoven sub-plots your story does need to have some sort of action, have your story go somewhere
  • Do inject humour – we can’t all make our readers fall about laughing but on the other hand if you can raise a smile you are more likely to have your reader warm to you
  • Do write about people and their actions – people like reading about people, and people doing things most of all. First though your reader needs to care what happens so illustrate the characters in your story well.
  • Do include details (who, what, where, when, how) – stories that miss out important details can be frustrating, important details also set the scene and context.
  • Don’t include unneccessary details that slow the story down – not all details are necessary. The precise brand of breakfast cereal you ate this morning will probably not have a great bearing on the stories outcome.
  • Do have a point and get to it – while your writing might be completely captivating your reader will not thank you for wasting their time.
  • Do have just one point, deal with one issue at a time – simple stories often work best, start out with one idea that you want to get across and just do that.
  • Don’t just write the facts, it’s a story not a list of data – it doesn’t have to be shakespeare but on the other hand it shouldn’t read like a shopping list either
  • Do engage the readers emotions – even if it is just a retelling of a joke you heard, the best stories tug at the readers emotions
  • Don’t give it all away in first paragraph – in general it is best to keep the twist or punchline to the end
  • Don’t use bland descriptions and cliches – readers find cliches distracting, once you have written your post go over it to see if you can spot any cliches then jettison them
  • Don’t reproduce rumour or myth as fact – if you do not know something is 100% true do not represent it as anything other than “something you heard”
  • Don’t assume your reader knows all the history – it is easy to assume your reader has read your blog from the beginning or is as knowledgable about your subject as you are. Give them a little background.
  • Don’t assume your reader cares about the subject as much as you do – you might well love your cat/software/company/car/etc a great deal but your audience will not necessary agree. Give them reason to care.

I know a couple of people who despise story posts, they are of the opinion these sorts of posts ought to stay on livejournal and never be seen on a “respectable blog”. Personally I love a good story told well, in fact my favourite books on management were written in the story style.

Do you like story posts and what makes a good one in your opinion?

2 thoughts on “Tell a Good Story

  1. Sometimes I base my stories on the “generalistic” post of another person. I tell how it the theory works for me.
    For example [from my imagination] I could base on this post and invent something like “I tried to follow the story post way and wrote couple of story posts about the programming. It really did(n’t) work”

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