Tell a story every time you write. That’s right. Put in characters, drama, a plot, and break it into three acts. You really can do it, and there is a really good reason to try.
We remember stories.
Whatever you are writing – a blog, an opinion piece, a feature, a case study, a how-to or even a technical report – turn it into a story.
In this story, you and I are the characters. I’m sitting at a breakfast bar in Sydney with the deadline for my blog looming over my head. I’ve spent the past day and a half conducting workshops and presentations and it seems like I barely put down my metaphorical pen from last week’s blog and it’s time to write again.
My subeditor and webmaster extraordinaire, Jaclyn (another character), is flat out today. Usually, she gives me heaps of leeway to be late with my copy, but today, she’s warned me ahead of time that she can only get my newsletter done if I get it to her in the next half an hour.
Sometimes I just love that pressure, necessity being the mother of invention. Sure, my shoulders hunch up and my back muscles turn to rock, but I write.
I really want to get something to you that you value. I’m committed to you, my readers, at home and at work, also working under pressure, looking for ways to make your blogs and stories fantastic without them taking all day to write.
You can find the drama in every situation. We like to hide it, but it’s there in our fears, expectations, disappointments and resentments. You could write my story this way. Kath sat at the desk, bashing at the keyboard with her blog deadline looming, and cursing herself under her breath. “Why do I do it?” she asked herself. “Every week, I’m always writing my blog right at the last minute.”
As the words poured out, her concentration was interrupted by the timer on her phone. Twenty-five minutes had passed and she was supposed to have a five-minute break (she was using the Pomodoro technique to become more productive).
What was she to do? Break, with the deadline looming in the hope that the technique really does work and that by standing on the porch in the sun looking at the Morton Bay figs and listening to the cockatoos screech that somehow this blog would get done faster?
She took her hands off the keyboard, and reached for a banana. She ate it in the sunshine.
Conclusion: The third act
This is the conclusion to every story
It’s the denouement; it wraps everything up and makes us feel satisfied. I have always had a tendency skip the third act. In my print days, I just wrote till I ran out of room (filled the word count).
But recently I read on QuickSprout, that we, as readers, often read the conclusion of stories on the web as we try to get information quickly and make sure we are not missing out on anything.
And, since we can never run out of room on the web, vanity (that I can entice you to the end of my stories) has helped to discipline me to remember the third act.
When we remember to turn every piece of writing into a story, when we look for and emphasise the characters, plot and drama, our stories will become more memorable to our readers.
I’ll end with a flourish and the wisdom of one of the world’s greatest publishers, Joseph Pulitzer, 1847-1911:
Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light.