Six Steps to Storytelling Success
I started sharing storytelling tips in last month's blog. Now let's dig deeper into this exciting skill.
Fiction and nonfiction stories (except for the shortest ones) are built on six essential storytelling steps:
1. Hook: Grab your readers from the get-go. To start your story, pose a provocative question or share pain points your readers likely relate to. The hook keeps your readers reading.
2. Set the Scene: Immerse your readers into the scene. Use the senses to bring the scene to life—let them experience the unnecessary sorrow or the quiet anticipation so they understand what's at stake here.
3. Conflict & Complications: Dig deeper into the sticky, emotional issues your readers can relate to. Explore the weaknesses of the system, the problems with the philandering husband, or, as I mentioned last time, the fears of the landlubber when she couldn’t see land anymore.
4. Development: You’ve used the first three storytelling techniques to set the scene and share problems; now pull together all the details. Keep your development simple and make it credible to your audience. Help your readers step into the situation with straight-forward explanations and descriptions. How do these complications play out in the lives of your characters, real and fictional? What are they thinking and feeling? What do they do because of the conflict and complications?
5. Resolution: Now offer swift action and clear solutions. In a long story, told over many chapters in a book or throughout a lengthy presentation, try withholding the resolution until later to create suspense—and lock in attention. In the case of our boat owner, he quickly resolved my fears through his gentle encouragement.
6. Conclusions & Call to Action: In this final step, wind everything up so your readers feel the satisfaction of a well-told story. Let your readers know what your story empowers and implores them to do. And in nonfiction books, articles, presentations—even e-mail—you can add a call to action so your readers do what you want them to do—buy, sell, call, act.
Stories have the power to inform, inspire, and intrigue. They entertain and educate, offering a much-needed respite from reams of information confronting everyone today. And when stories deliver the results you need, everyone will live happily ever after.
Would you like a free copy of the short story that started my fiction-writing career: “A Nose for Murder”? Just sign up below, and I’ll send you your own copy to enjoy. And from time to time, I’ll keep you posted with musings about writing and updates on my sequels to A Life for a Life and other books.