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Eight Tips to Writing More Compelling Stories

April 27th is National Storytelling Day. As captain of your corporate blog, how can you harness the power of storytelling?

Consider the world’s longest, most successful commercial: The Lego Movie. By combining a great story, beautiful visuals, and memorable characters, the filmmakers created an ad that didn’t feel like an ad.  Viewers were entertained—a lot of viewers, judging by the more than $250 million box office gross—and afterwards they rushed out to play with the toys that so enchanted them in the film.

Here are eight things to consider when telling a story on your blog.

Ask Yourself Why.

According to pro blogger Jeff Goins, “when you start asking why people share (and listen to) stories, often there is an objective. A reason. It may be to encourage or inspire or cause you to think differently. But still there is purpose to the telling.” Before you start writing, know what effect you want to achieve with your audience. Will they be laughing or crying by the end of your post?

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Keep It Simple.

When writing your corporate blog, ask yourself: What would Hemingway do? Dianna Booher encourages writers to question themselves about each word, phrase, and sentence. “Does it add to the mood? Does it create the scene? Is this detail necessary to move the story forward and make the point? Weed out trivial details that detract or add only length.”

Be Brief.

“The most successful storytellers often focus listeners’ minds on a single important idea and they take no longer than a 30-second Superbowl spot to forge an emotional connection,” cautions Harrison Monarth on the Harvard Business Review blog. When a storyteller rambles, the audience tunes out.

Be Bold.

Storytelling encourages you to take risks and be creative. “Great stories make a promise,” writes Seth Godin. “They promise fun, safety or a shortcut. The promise needs to be bold and audacious. It’s either exceptional or it’s not worth listening to.”

Build a Persona.

“Brand stories are not marketing materials. They are not ads, and they are not sales pitches,” writes Susan Gunelius for Forbes. “Brand stories should be told with the brand persona and the writer’s personality at center stage. Boring stories won’t attract and retain readers, but stories brimming with personality can.”

Consider Your Characters.

Think of the most successful ad campaigns. What do they have in common? Consistent characters. While your blog might not have a mascot like Progressive’s Flo or Geico’s gecko, you can still find characters in your company. “To find the heart of your story, start by identifying all of the people (real or fictional) who make your business thrive,” recommends marketing guru Debbie Williams, “and use them as your cast of characters.”

Rise and Fall.

The classic structure of a dramatic story is shaped like a pyramid; it begins, it rises to a climax, and then falls again. Once you’ve established the characters and the scenario in which they find themselves, keep building the tension until things come to a head, and then wrap it all up in the resolution.

Proofread.

Nothing derails a story faster than a careless typo. When a reader catches a mistake you didn’t, it immediately pulls them out of your writing (and often into the comments). Always read your work before posting or publishing—out loud, if possible—and use an automated proofreader to find any remaining goofs.

How have you incorporated storytelling into your corporate blog? Share your story in the comments!

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