Welcome… to the story of my life

What is Good Storytelling?

storytelling-1

You hear stories all the time… at work, with your friends, at the movies, etc.  Everyone loves a good story.  But what is it that makes a story good?  And how do you tell a good story through a blog?

I did a little research on storytelling, and from what I could gather, I’ve gleaned that there are more or less 5 elements that make a story good:

  1. Hook your audience, and then keep them interested until the very end.  Maximilian Majewski, in a blog post titled Be a Storyteller:  How to Write Great Blogs, says to interest the reader within the first paragraph, and if they continue reading beyond that, you have won.
  2. Talk about something that would interest anyone and everyone.  According to Andrew Stanton, the greatest commandment of storytelling is to make the reader care. Stanton says that a good story starts off by giving you a promise that the story will lead somewhere that’s worth your time.  Click here to see filmmaker Andrew Stanton (Wall-E) talk more about storytelling.
  3. It may be your story, but make it a deeply personal story, one that everyone can relate to.  A great story is laden with values and sentiments that are universally felt.  John Steinbeck said,

If a story is not about the hearer he will not listen.  And here I make a rule–a great and lasting story is about everyone or it will not last.  The strange and foreign is not interesting–only the deeply personal and familiar.”

4.  If you can’t think of something to write about, then listen to what’s going on around you, and to how people react to what’s going on, so that you’ll be able to clarify a position in a controversial matter, or be able to add something of value.  Kivi Miller talks about how to write awesome blogs here.

5.  And since Andrew Stanton has such good insight into how good storytelling works, I’ll share one other element of his, that is, the unifying theory of 2 plus 2.  The whole idea is to make your audience work for it’s meal.  Stanton says not to give them 4, but make them put 2 and 2 together.  It is the very absence and withholding of information that draws people in and keeps them interested in a story.  People want to anticipate what’s going to happen next and want to put the pieces together, so let them.

These 5 I listed are just major ideas I took away from the blogs and videos I skimmed on the web.  Hopefully these tips help.  Happy storytelling.

For more information on what the seasoned bloggers of today think about storytelling, see the article 18 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Storytelling.

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One response

  1. Dr P

    Alice,

    Make sure you test your links – you left the : out between the http and the //. None of them worked. You did a pretty good job with this post. My only complaint – you didn’t really explain the social media definition of “listen” and a quote from Kivi Miller would have done that – and then a link to her blog post. If you are going to link to it, take something of value from it that contributes to your blog post. Other than that – good job.

    February 7, 2013 at 4:01 pm

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