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10 Masterful Methods of Storytelling
Posted on June 6th 2014
“No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.” -Lewis Carroll
One of the benefits of being a professional copywriter is that I spend my day telling stories. Some stories capture attention in the first sentence: "It started with a sock monkey and half a rotisserie chicken." Others take a bit to get into, but have an immediate payoff: "He suggested the karaoke bar and I thought it was a good idea...until we pulled up to the club and the valet asked us if we had good car insurance. Turned out, he was a car thief."
When we think of stories, we typically think of books - "Once upon a time..." and "They all lived happily ever after." The truth is, though, that stories are more than just words on a page. Here, then, are ten masterful methods of storytelling that will help you answer the two questions I get asked most often are: 1) How do you tell a story? and 2) Where do you start?
Sometimes, a story doesn't require words. A beautiful series of images, perfectly detailed, can tell the story on their own and engage the reader. Just look at cartoons - animation that gives life to an image and has the ability to tell a story without spoken text.
Words! Look at all of them, there on the page...hanging in the space between...creating scenes and fueling drama, harnessing laughs. Amazing.
Get your audience involved. Musical instruments, sound effects, dance - whatever it takes, allow your audience to interact with the story.
Videos are human, dynamic, attention-grabbing, and tell stories within stories. We watch, captured. Audio, too, allows us to experience through all five senses.
If you're telling a story to a group of six year olds who love dinosaurs, then add a bit to it where they're all riding around on stegosauruses - use their names, their characteristics. Adding a little bit of personal detail to the tale completely engrosses and engages the audience because, suddenly, they're a part of it.
The whole point of a story is to tell it, to share it. Jump on social media and tell the world!
Phones, computers, tablets, pagers - if it can convey text and/or images, it can share a story. Remember that when you're wondering how to relay your Big Fish tale to Grandma Sue in Florida.
Stories provide entertainment, which gives others inspiration. They may aspire to go out and do what you did, which may lead them to act on an adventure...leading to an entertaining story of their own, which they share. It's a cycle and it begins with a conversation.
Did you buy a bottle of Hennessy and proceed to have the most amazing night of your life, leading to the biggest set of entertaining stories you've ever told? Marketing. Right. There.
If you're sharing your stories online, are people finding them? Are they sharing them, as well? How can you tell? I'm recommending my colleague, Jon Barnes' post on defining success in content marketing at ADG Creative's Brain Juice blog as a way to find metrics that suit your needs best.
So...now that you've got a place to start...go out there, make some stories, and share them! I can't wait to hear the first one.