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Stories – Part 2: How to tell a story

It’s great when someone tells you to tell stories, but if you’ve never been taught anything about the craft, then how can you do it well? Well, let’s see if I can throw some insight on to the craft here, with 3 tips (or Acts) on structure.

telling stories

Act 1 – The Hook

How are you going to hook the person into your piece of content? We always used to have 15 seconds to get someone’s attention but that is fast decreasing. What you need is a hook so that when you catch their attention, they don’t let go until the end. One way to do this is to hint that there will be something of value towards the end of your story, so “stay tuned”, “watch this space” . This sort of carrot will keep them interested until they get to the last bit. You see this with film trailers (a teaser). The hook is even more effective is if it communicates what you want people to know. Think of the phrase “car crash”. And tie in the fact that something is a car crash to the point of the whole story. For example, “Does your social media feel like a car crash?” So, the point of the content is known up front. Readers don’t feel disappointed at end of the content when you advise them how to avoid the car crash. Another example of a hook – “How do I get so much writing done? I’m going to show you how here.”

Act 2. The Meat

This is where you answer the question was posed at the beginning or in the title or where the detail is explained. Try to use what’s known as the comedy rule of three. When you tell a joke, tell it 3 different ways to get it across so your audience understands. This is wired in to how TV works, so it’s wired in to us. 3 tips or takeaways. It doesn’t need to be in the headline. And if it’s in the detail, people will continue reading because they’ve not consumed all the knowledge you have to offer or reached the promised hook mentioned above.

You need to have conflict. Do, for example, How I get most writing done? Share how once you didn’t get writing done (Remember the challenge from Part 1). Your audience needs to be able to relate to you so you can’t be perfect all the time. So tell them how terrible you used to be, how you overcame the challenge and how now, although still not quite perfect you’re effective enough to be known as an expert at what you do.

Act 3. Resolution and Conclusion

You MUST just wrap it up. Lots of people don’t and this is a mistake. It’s very disappointing not to understand the point of an article simply because it’s missing an ending. It could be a call to action (but doesn’t always have to be). Pitching is great, but it can become repetitive. Other endings can land you with sales down the line. E.g. 21 days left of 2018, how are you going to create your plot twist. How are you going to create a twist in your business by end of year. Could end, “Can you tell me how you’re going to twist this plot? Or, use a question. Next time you’re struggling with this, do this. Or, create a cliffhanger: next, or in part 2, you can read about… It’s good to batch content – which is exactly what I’ve done with this series about stories.

In my next and final part, I’m going to share with you how you can use the 3 act structure effectively. 

If you found this interesting or useful, let me know in the comments below. If you’d like to know more about telling stories, contact me and I’ll point you in the right direction.