I had had a long day. After staring at the blank page for far too long trying to decide what to write, I decided to pack it up and try again tomorrow. Writer’s block had struck. But when I got home, my husband inadvertently reminded me of exactly what had been missing from my blogging efforts: storytelling.
I came in the door to see the ottoman we had ordered nicely assembled and placed just where it should be. Great! Thanks honey! Another good deed in the husband category. Little did I know, the epic tale behind getting this behemoth piece of furniture and into place.
But don’t worry, I soon found out. In his charming and amusing way, my husband described in painstaking detail his efforts to move the 70 pound storage ottoman into the house, and then cut through the layers of wrapping that protected it during shipping and quickly enveloped most of our living room. You would have thought the ottoman was actually a mythic beast he had vanquished.
While my husband is not a writer, he is a storyteller. Storytelling is an essential part of conveying any message to your listener. Whether you are writing a mundane blog post about the latest development in your industry, or trying to win sympathy from your spouse for all the hard work you have done, the key is in the story.
Storytelling helps your readers connect with your topic. It gives them a sense of place and helps them experience the importance of your issue. It engages them and makes them want to learn more.
For a story to be compelling, it must be relate-able. My husband’s tale of the ottoman worked because I have had similar experiences wrestling furniture into place before. What can you do if your blog topic isn’t something most people experience?
Break it down. Find the person behind your topic – whether it is your client’s case or a need that sparked innovation in a new product, somewhere there is a lead actor for your tale. Personify the problem. Make that person real. Maybe it was you. If so, use first person, or at least quotes to help them hear your voice as you explain what happened and why. If your readers can’t relate to what you were doing, they may at least be able to relate to who was doing it.
Then find the conflict – that thing that went wrong. Conflict engages readers’ emotions and helps them understand why things need to change. The conflict may be as simple as a product not performing the way your users expect. In the ottoman tale, it was working with an object that was too big and too heavy to be handled easily by one person. By drawing out the emotion behind that – frustration, annoyance, and relief now that it is fixed – you will engage your readers in the short story of your post.
Storytelling is a key way to hook your readers’ interest and keep them reading until the end. Like my husband with the over-sized ottoman, the key is to identify the actor, find the conflict, and then show how it was resolved. If you are able to do that, your readers will be carried along with you right up to The End.
Lisa Schmidt is a writer for Legal Linguist based in Ferndale, Michigan. She provides ghost-blogging and web content services to law firms and small businesses. If you need someone to tell your story, contact Legal Linguist today to schedule a meeting.