Keys to Great Storytelling

5 Keys to Great Storytelling Skills for Novelists & Business Writers

5 Keys to Great Storytelling Skills
Image by Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig

5 Keys to Great Storytelling Skills for Novelists & Business Writers

The internet age has paved the way for better storytelling. Boring, lame stories in both fiction and nonfiction don't cut it anymore. Competition has increased, fueling the need to stand apart from the crowd. If you want to get heard, you have to tell a great story.

Unfortunately, poor stories are everywhere. Writers get rushed and marketing departments churn out subpar materials, adding to the slush of bad writing on the internet. With all of the information available to us, there really is no good excuse.

Telling a great story through writing takes time and effort. And it's certainly not something you can learn overnight. But here are some keys to great storytelling skills…

1. Make It Relatable 

Stories that aren't relevant to readers fail to gain traction not just in print but on the internet as well. They risk damaging a writer's reputation because if the writer managed to write a great headline or book title but then failed to deliver, the probability of a larger number of readers exposed to the work is greater online than offline where the exposure was likely pretty low.

One of the best pieces of advice I've heard related to this area is regarding Christian literature for children. When delivering a message, you can't be preachy. If a child feels a lecture coming on, he'll put the story down and move onto something else.

So, make your story relevant to the reader by addressing a specific problem.

2. Make It Interesting

Someone once said that writers shouldn't write about their lives because they're not interesting enough. No one wants to read a boring story so add some color, get creative, approach the topic from a new, fresh angle.

3. Give It Some Emotion

How can you speak directly to the reader's emotional side? What is the problem and how does it make the reader feel?

When we add some emotion to our writing, it pulls at a reader's heartstrings and helps us (the writers) and the story become more memorable.

4. Tell It With Passion

Aren't interested in your topic? Your reader won't be either.

When we can write about a topic with passion, we stand a better chance at making the writing interesting and engaging. If we're not able to capture a spark, the story will likely fail to ignite a spark in the reader.

5. Cut Out Unnecessary Words 

Elmore Leonard said that he tries to cut out the parts that people skip. We as writers should focus on that, too. It takes time to edit our writing and we might not have as much as we'd like, but if we make an effort to cut out unnecessary words, we'll allow ourselves to tell a great story and keep our readers from getting bogged down in their reading.

There is certainly more to writing a great story, but these five keys are an absolute must and will get you on the right track to telling a great story.

Jody Calkins
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