Skillful storytellers know the age-old adage – show, don’t tell. As elementary as it may sound, there are several tips like this that you can use to engage and maintain readership in your brand’s blog posts. The key is to take risks, indulge in descriptive language, and tell a good story. Even in fact-focused blog posts, a good story can engage and inspire readers. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Though it seems commonplace, before you begin writing, you should always have your audience in mind. The readers, demographic, timing, and more should all be well-thought through before starting your story. If you’re writing a blog post, is the story meant to evoke emotion? Is it meant for readers to invest in your product? Consider the details your audience should know before you take pen to paper. If you begin with a clear direction, you will have an easier time enhancing the story details your readership needs to know.
As writers, we often use vague, fuzzy language that can frustrate the reader. Hone your message by carefully choosing the right words, and use them sparingly to convey your meaning. Remember, being specific is more than putting together a bunch of descriptive words. The goal is to paint a scene, describing what is relevant in a new, fresh way. This will not only keep your readers interested, it will keep them coming back for more. Remember, the more specific you can make your writing, the more accessible your writing becomes, and the larger your potential audience.
Use Sensory Language
Another way to avoid “telling” writing is to utilize each of the five senses. Evoking the senses is an ask of the reader — it requires him or her to draw upon their personal experience. Try to focus on underused senses including smell and taste, rather than relying so heavily on sight, sound, and touch.
When applicable, dialogue allows the reader to experience a scene as though they were present in the conversation. Dialogue can provide insight into character, emotion, and mood. Perhaps one of the easiest ways to avoid telling, dialogue allows readers to put themselves in the story. It provides a frame of reference. If dialogue isn’t appropriate for your blog post, try writing in a more casual tone, so your readership can gain an understanding of who you are as a person.
Try Adjectives, Avoid Adverbs
Adjectives can often lead writers to discover additional opportunities to show in their writing. Rather than writing about an innovative solution, expand on the details of the innovation to show your readership why your solution is different. In contrast, avoiding adverbs can also help to transform your writing. Look for words that end in “ly” and consider expanding them to show action.
Often overlooked, nouns can be utilized to shape your blog post and avoid telling. Consider the words woman, girl, lady – each has a different connotation. The same is true for journalist, blogger, and writer. Be sure to select the appropriate noun to convey the message you want your audience to perceive.
Metaphors can be a powerful tool, but writers must be careful to balance the description and avoid crossing into over-used clichés. You can utilize metaphors to convey more content than you could otherwise, but be sure to follow a couple rules. First and foremost, make it vivid. Visual impact is essential for a metaphor to hold lasting meaning in the minds of your readers. Secondly, keep it simple. Ask yourself if you could explain the metaphor to an adolescent. You goal should always be to root a complex idea into something that can be easily understood.
No matter the subject, no matter the ask, no matter the story, your narrative should always be based in truth. As we saw in Brian Williams’ exaggerated story through NBC, there are consequences for inaccuracy in journalism. The same is true for all bloggers, writers, and content creators. Your reputation is on the line. Be sure to accurately represent yourself even through the art of storytelling.
Now that you have a few ideas of ways to show your readers a story, put it to use in your next blog post. Even if it’s a different style of writing than you’re used to, you may be surprised at the response you receive from your audience.