“… and so Abraham Lincoln brought about a huge change for his people. He was an inspiration, a hero and a leader who led his soldiers despite the pressures. On November 19, 1863, he gave his famous speech at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. When he was assassinated on the 15thof April, 1865, the entire country mourned.
And that is the story of Abraham Lincoln. Now children, I want you to write a 500 words on what you liked the most about Abraham Lincoln.”
That wasn’t a story telling class. That was my history class when I was in 6th Grade. The reason I remember it so well is because that class like many other history classes I had was fabulous. Even though history classes are usually boring with dates, places and more boring stuff about people who did remarkably great things in past but for a 6thgrade kid, they are pretty much boring people.
Why then was my history class one of the best classes I had? We never had to learn by heart any of the history notes in spite of all the dates, events, places and names. What we heard in that class got imprinted in our mind word by word as soon as they reached my ears.
It was in the art of my teacher’s style of speaking and style of lectures. She never took our lessons as lectures, instead she choose to tell them through stories.
My teacher knew the art of true speaking. She spoke in such a style that we students felt everything happening around us. The lectures used to start forming an image in students mind, creating a flow, making everything seem like it is happening in the present. In such style of lectures, it only took us moments before everything made an impact on us and we understood everything word by word.
What is Storytelling?
Storytelling is the art of making a sequence of events that conveys emotions as well as information. It connects the audience spiritually and makes the communication natural, clear, accurate, trustworthy and intuitive.
Why Use Stories In Blogging?
Why do people buy the things, we want them to buy? We give them a good story around it. The worth of a product then depends upon how well we tell the story.
As a marketer, we want to make people feel and act, like we want them. Isn’t marketing exactly like that? We try harder to produce content that gets emotionally attached to them, we try different writing formats to make the content understandable, compelling, and interactive which speak to the audience maybe through bullet points, visualization, graphical representation, facts/figures and try different experiments on how the things work.
We do all this to make contents that connect with users and with which they can associate.
A story could be an imagination or a reality; it drives emotion that makes information interesting and therefore memorable. It builds interest and forces people to perform certain tasks for solving their current problem, and remembering it for a long run.
How Stories Help in Marketing?
Research data, surveys and polls are good source of information and references but it doesn’t go viral. Stories do.
Why did Facebook go viral within the first hour of its launch? It had a very compelling story behind it and today Facebook is world’s largest social networking website. The founder of Facebook even got expelled from his college as he broke into the college directory hacking into the system
Stories capture hearts, minds and add moral values into the data that our brains are wired to remember. Without a compelling story our ideas, products and brands are dead on arrival. Human minds simply cannot be force to make an action by spreadsheets packed with figures and data dumps. People tend to be moved by emotional messages that connect to them.
Narratives are able to evoke all kind of emotions that turns it into real actions. It plays with the audiences’ minds and a reader gets emotionally connected to the message.
Words make such a strong impact on people that they get forced to take action.
For example: Instead of saying “Buy water and donate towards Children’s Charity for Drinking Water” they can say:
“While you bath yourself and your cars with clean water every day, Children in Africa are dying due to inadequate and dirty mud water for drinking. Donate generously!!!”
Here is a video that shows the power of words:
How to Tell a Story
Story telling is a complex task for those who have no “voice”. You may be wondering what this voice is. This voice is your style of writing, a direction in which you will let your words flow.
Ask yourself, What are you going to write about? Is it your success story? What was your situation? What did you do on your first day of failure, second day, after a month, and maybe a year? What did you do to control the problem? How did your failure turn into success? What were your tools? What alternatives you had?
Such questions will help you find your style and voice, two elements that are essential for writing a good post.
Today we will go in depth to understand how story telling can work miracles in blogging and market your words in much better way.
Patience mate… I am all yours today in this matter
Let me take you on a step by step journey. These 5 steps of storytelling in blogging is a treasure that I have held so long and today, I give it out to the world.
Design credits: Globus Dubai
1. Create A Setting
Setting means creating a time, space, area, atmosphere and environment of the story, all in all, a stage. Have you seen how most of the fairy tales begin their story? It is usually and mostly always with a line,
“Once upon a time in a faraway land there was a village along a river coast…”
Now notice how smartly this line is setting the stage of the story. One small line of mere 8 words makes a huge picture in your mind creating the entire scene.
We can paint a picture of small village that is now forgotten. The time is way back when there was no technology and the world of these people was only as big as their village was. The men must be farmers, butchers, barterers and animal rearer etc.
Did a picture similar to this come in your mind too after reading that line? It’s amazing isn’t it how a small line can give you so much details.
That is how a story should set its stage.
How To Create A Setting In Blogging
When you begin your blog straightaway with “Today we will talk about how to build SEO”, instantly you decrease the interest of your readers. This statement reminds me of my philosophy class where my professor used to begin each lecture with “today we will learn human behavior”, “today we will talk about positive thinking,” “today we will discuss influential speaking” and boy I tell you, how many times I must have yawned in that class.
Hence, never begin your blog with a statement that makes your readers feel like they are sitting in a lecture room.
To make an interesting beginning that keeps your readers want to read more, you need to set up a stage. Make it look like you are just about to narrate an incident of your life, or a story or something interesting.
Now let’s suppose I am an online content marketer and I have been asked to write a good selling content for the product, here is how I would begin a blog,
“Just the other day while working in my office…”
2. Introduce Characters
Introducing the character of the story is next aspect. A good story will introduce the basic characters related to the story in the first chapter itself because only after introducing the characters does a story become completely understandable. First the protagonist(s) of the story is/are introduced and then all the characters circling around them are introduced.
“… where a young girl lived with her father and memories of her mother. She was the only child and the only source of living to her father.”
This introduction clearly talks about the main protagonist of the story. She is a young girl who lives with her father. She does not have a mother. The introduction only tells us that she does not have a mother, but keeps it suspense as to what must have happened to her mother. Did she die a natural death, Was she killed or did she just leave them?
Such introduction to the characters quickly creates a curiosity. The readers do not know the story yet, but just the curiosity in the characters will make them want to read more.
How to Introduce Characters In Blogging
Blogging of course has a personal element. So the basic character in blogging will always be you. You are either the protagonist of the story or a narrator stating the story. But in either case there is a “you” in the story.
“You” are an understood character of the story, now you need to introduce other characters, if any, because it is not necessary that your blog will have any other character.
Let’s continue with our story and introduce the characters.
“…my wife called me to ask if I would be home for our daughter’s first recital in school. My boss was out for meeting so I had a few minutes to spare. While talking to her I looked upon my hand and for a minute what I saw, froze me…”
3. Create Suspense And Curiosity
Now that you have set a high stage and shed the spot light on your characters, this is where your actual story truly begins.
“…She was a figure of flawless beauty – blonde hair reaching her waist, big blue bambi eyes and rose petal like lips upon a wheatish face. Agasta was more than just beauty. She was smart, witty and intelligent too. Aaaahhh she was every man’s dream girl.
But upon that beauty was something that kept all men away from her…”
This is the body that will make your entire story. Consider this as a do or die situation where you either do create a story that will keep your readers clinged to you like a leech on skin or you can die trying.
If your readers lose you at this moment, nothing will bring them back with the same interest, curiosity and zeal with which they began reading your story.
How To Create Suspense, Curiosity & Story In Blogging
This is the part where you want your readers to be immersed in your blog. This can only be possible through perfect execution of words, well maintained flow, rhythm in your phrasing and correct use of emotions.
Do not hesitate to throw in dialogues, idioms, phrases and famous slangs, people love that. What I have learnt from my experience in writing is that, people love reading “out of the contemporary” words especially when something is said in contrast with social media trends.
Eg: “I was so angry at him that I wanted to insult him right in the in public”. This is a contemporary statement written in plain words.
What people would love to read is “I was so freaking mad at him that I just wanted to tweet the hell out of him on Twitter.”
“…Even though I am a person with practically flawless white skin, my hand had this huge patches of red starting from my fingers to my wrist. I almost fell from my chair. It was really weird. Weirder than Miley Cyrus’s long disgusting tongue, Imagine that…”
4. Gradually Dissolve Suspense And Curiosity
At this stage your readers are completely submerged in your story. The only reason they are reading further is because their mind is full of what and how. Their mind is boggled with what will happen now, how will it happen, how did this happen, what was the problem was, how it will get resolved and so on.
It is good to keep your readers in utter suspense and curiosity but doing so for an inadequately long time loses the charm. The readers get bored and they lose interest when a story prolongs for no good reason.
So once you have created suspense and curiosity, gradually lead your story to dissolving all the questions and start answering the questions in your readers mind.
“…she always wore a red cloak. Her red cloak draped from her head all the way from her shoulders to her ankle. She was considered evil and no man ever dared to talk to her lest she would cast a spell on them. People considered her as an evil witch who had disguised herself in a beauty body through the red cloak. They believed that the red cloak was a magical chain that blocked her evil powers and once removed, she would come in her evil form.
One day an epidemic hit the children of this village. All the kids of this village started falling ill. All the medicines and herbs of the village could not cure them of the disease. The news of this epidemic reached Agasta’s house.
“No Agasta… You can’t do this,” said her father.
“But father… You know I have to do this… I have to father. This is the only way. You have to let me do it. Please do not stop me if you love me…”
How To Dissolve Suspense And Curiosity In Blogging
In blogging, it is important that you dissolve suspense and curiosity almost immediately because a blog is usually and normally 1000 words. The beginning 500 words already go in stage, characters and creation. Your readers have read 500 words for some purpose. Serve that purpose before they yawn.
You don’t have to immediately give out the answers like a bucket of water in the face, go with splashes. Gradually lead your blog towards giving answers, resolving problems and dissolving the suspense.
But remember, you will have to continue with words that would keep them attracted. You have brought them all the way to the end, make sure that your lasting impact stays forever.
“…I would have never imagined me doing something of this sort, but that day I did. I removed my shoes and removed my socks. Haha, yes, I did that in front of all my colleagues. I am glad I wore a new pair of socks that day otherwise the smell was sure to attract everyone. As I bared my feet, I saw the same red patches…
“Hello, hello, hellooooooo.” I had forgotten my wife was on phone. I immediately told her to meet me at Sunsdale Health Care.”
5. Create An Ending
Congratulations. You have successfully brought your readers to this stage. No really!!! This is a matter of great appreciation. Most writers lose their readers at the very beginning while some lose their writers right in the middle. If you have brought your readers to this very level where your readers are still reading with the same interest with which they started your story then you have done a remarkably fabulous job.
Pat yourself on the back but don’t enjoy the moment because making an ending may seem to be an easy-peasy job where you just have to disclose everything and declare a happy ending, but it is more complex than starting a story.
A good ending is not when you declare “and they all lived happily ever.” It is when you leave an ending where your readers make an absolute image of a happily ever after without your need of saying so.
“…Saying so Agasta walked out of her house into the village where everyone was gathered. Everyone was shocked to see her. They called her names and told her it was her fault. They blamed her and cursed her.
She slowly walked towards a place where the sun rays fell on the ground. She stood calmly under those sun rays and removed her red cloak. As soon as she removed her cloak, she started turning into smoke.
Everyone gasped. They shuddered with the thought of what she was doing and how badly she was going to harm all of them. Within moments she turned entirely into smoke that went around the village.
Her smoke went into every corner of the village. It was only a matter of few moments that all the kids of the village got out of the beds with smiling faces and full of health.
As for Agasta, she was gone. All that remained in her spot was the red cloak.”
How To Make An Ending In Blogging
It is essential that your ending does complete justice to your readers.
Unlike stories where you can leave your readers with questions instead of answers like we just did in our Agasta story, blogs need to have a more specific ending that gives out all the answers with which they blog was started.
You cannot start a blog about “How Story Telling Can Do Wonders In Blogging” and then leave your readers to an ending where they do not know how exactly to do it.
In blogging, a good ending should clearly solve all the problems, give all the answers and explain everything.
That’s a good ending. But then what would be a great ending?
A great blog ending is the one that opens door to discussion, whether negative or positive depends on the author of the blog. Your blog should have such an impact on readers that they would be tempted to make a comment, ask more questions, give suggestion or simply throw back a thanks (not that we want them to thank us, but who doesn’t love a thank you on their blog? :P)
“…Wait, Why? She asked with a worried tone. As I narrated to her my story, her worried tone suddenly turned into laughter. “WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING?” I asked her boiling with rage.
“April fooool sweety. That’s just skin coloring product that I put in your gloves and socks.
“Aaaaaaahhhh Helen. You have got to be kidding me. I have a meeting in about half hour and you know how stubborn these colors are.”
“It’s in your bag. The outer pocket. PureClean Lotion. It gets rid of all colors, makeup and has sanitzer properties. Don’t worry, I am not getting you fired upon red hands and feet.”
I immediately opened my bag, removed PureClean Lotion, rubbed it on my hand and VOILA… My hands were perfectly sane.”