The Biggest Mistake Most Storytellers Make and How to Fix It

Which of these two feels more like a story?

Example A:

"It was so hard putting my son down when he was a baby. He was such a difficult newborn."

Example B:

"It's midnight. I'm humming Utada Hikaru's 'First Love' as I rock my 2-week old son back to sleep. He's been screaming in my ear for the last 45-minutes straight and the left side of my back is numb from walking back and forth in my bedroom.

At this moment, I question every decision I've made in my life up to now.

Then I feel him relax. His chin sinks into my shoulder.

Finally. Peace.

I lay him carefully into the co-sleeper and collapse into my favorite pillow.

But then a whimper...turns into a whine...into a scream.

He's angry. And he's got his second wind."

Most people would say Example B. Why? There's an obvious difference in length, but that's part of the point. Telling is a shortcut. Showing will take longer.

Example A is a cold report of what happened. It doesn't move the reader's emotions.

"The tradition has always been that you may more or less describe the things that happen...but nowadays, everybody all day long knows what is happening and so what is happening is not really interesting...what is happening does not really thrill any one..." - Gertrude Stein

When you just describe chronological events, your audience will know what happened, but they won't experience it. It's...boring.

If you bore your audience, you lose trust, credibility, and the chance to connect with another human being.

If you want to keep the students' attention, get the job, or even get a second date, you have to tell stories your audience feels.

Your audience has to be in the story with you. As you.

How do we do this?

Don't write in past-tense. Instead, write in the present.

Don't use the passive form of verbs (-ing). Instead, use the active form.

Don't try to be an unbiased journalist reporting your story. Instead, embrace your unique point-of-view. It's why your audience shows up.

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©2024 Milani Creative LLC. All Rights Reserved

©2024 Milani Creative LLC. All Rights Reserved