Stories draw people in. They can make an entire room sit in wide-eyed anticipation. Even energetic children gather enough focus to listen to bedtime tales.

While details about the future of content creation may be at the mercy of the internet’s whims, captivating stories will remain a staple of effective content. Read on to learn about three storytelling tips that bring content to life.

1. Give your characters opinions. It’s risky and it could make some people mad. But here’s the thing about having characters with opinions: it makes them human. It causes them to be relatable, multi-dimensional, and wonderfully imperfect.

That is not to say content should be a vehicle for non-stop, unrestrained opinions. Instead, it should be a nudge for content creators to take a step back every once in a while and ask: Is my content so neutral that it’s lulling readers to sleep?  Have I lost the voice of my brand because I’m playing it a little too safe?

2. Write about wolves. There is a passage from Margaret Atwood’s novel Blind Assassin that offers interesting insight into the art of storytelling:

All stories are about wolves. All worth repeating, that is. Anything else is sentimental drivel. There’s escaping from the wolves, fighting the wolves, capturing the wolves, taming the wolves. Being thrown to the wolves, or throwing others to the wolves so the wolves will eat them instead of you. Running with the wolf pack. Turning into a wolf. Best of all, turning into the head wolf. No other decent stories exist.”

In other words, stories are dynamic. They are rife with conflict, struggle, power dynamics, transitions, and betrayal. Great stories are not for the faint of heart; they take you for a ride.

Content can contain these dynamic elements, too. After all, effective marketing writing identifies and subtly addresses readers’ pain points. These points are your readers’ wolves; write about them.

3. Go on a journey, or have a stranger come into town. Famous Russian writer Leo Tolstoy has been quoted as saying: “All great literature is one of two stories: a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.”

In both cases, the status quo is set up to be challenged. It’s a formula where new ideas are discovered, transformations happen, and perspectives come under scrutiny.

Applying the narrative structure of a journey to your writing, even non-fiction work, can encourage a sense of wonder. That can be useful when you’re trying not only to communicate new ideas, but to make the experience feel novel and memorable.

What do you think? Which storytelling techniques have you found work well with content creation?