To take a quote from my Masterclass with GG Renee:
Developing your concept is knowing what you want to say, storytelling in my estimation is how you say it. Delivery is really everything. It dictates who we enjoy reading and who enjoys reading us.
What stands out in your storytelling? Does it really paint the picture? Does it really take you through the emotions? What words make you come alive?
The best way to understand great storytelling is to think about the stories that have intrigued you over the years. What stuck out to you? What is it about the stories that you enjoy? Compiling my own notes and with some research, here are a few things that stick out to me about creating compelling stories.
Being succinct yet detailed
.One thing that I hated about journalism was that it was supposed to focus on the who, what, when, where, and why. But that same concept also helped me become a better writer. It’s important in our storytelling that we paint the picture, but we shouldn’t use more words than we need. Having a journalism background really trained me to edit my writing in a way that I could take out unnecessary words and phrases to make sure that I wasn’t convoluting the writing.
Having a Point
Every great story has a point. What is the purpose of telling the story? Is it to leave the reader feeling empowered or inspired to do something? Is it to highlight that good overcomes evil? Is it to highlight that hard work will beat talent any day? Can you tell someone in just a few sentences what your story is actually about?
Tension aka Drama
At the end of the day, most of the things that we enjoy watching or reading have tension. There is some type of problem, a rise to the climax and then some type of resolve. Sure it’s not always some cheesy happy ending, but it has to be some type of ending. Often we’re jumping into a slice of life when it comes to characters in fiction or just a piece of a thought process if we’re looking at non-fiction.
Nothing Stays the Same
In writing, something has to change. We can go from one idea, in the beginning, thoroughly visiting the transition of thoughts, and then end up with something new in the end. The idea here is that in telling a story, you will start at one point and end up at another. It can’t just plateau. The understanding, the character, or the problem must change.
Use what you know. When telling a great story it’s from using many of your own experiences. Things that you have gone through, providing anecdotes where appropriate, or knowing how to describe a scene because you’ve been there.
When looking at learning how to tell a better story, I really think that there are two obstacles that we have to overcome as writers:
Effectively translating our experiences into stories. We often feel like our stories need to be kept secret. Learning how to open up in a way where we can actually convey what is very real in our lives on paper without the fear of judgment. It’s a notion of learning how to pour directly from our hearts onto the page without interruption. I have found that the best things that I have written have contained the things I was most afraid to say.
CLICK TO TWEET /// The best things that I have written have contained the things I was most afraid to say.
Composing in a way that is compelling to an audience. Sometimes we think people should just be interested in our stories just because. But there is no avoiding the importance of presentation. The words that we use, the way that we organize our paragraphs. How we use pauses. All of that matters. Sure you have something to say, but are you saying it in a way where people will care to listen?
We are doing more storytelling now than we ever have. Even outside of the books that you hope to write, you are telling a story about who you are through your website, social media, your physical appearances. All of it is telling a story. So how will you use that knowledge of formulating a good story in your work?