The Art of Storytelling: A Content Writer’s Guide

by Trevor Willingham, Copywriter - 07/26/17

storytelling-content-writer.gif

While it may not have chapters or contain hundreds of pages, the content you create should still incorporate a compelling story if you want it to stand out in a saturated market.

A meaningful, interesting story is key to successful content. It doesn’t have resemble Huckleberry Finn or The Great Gatsby, but a concise, purposeful narrative can grab a reader’s attention long enough for them to absorb your message.

A patient testimonial, for example, provides an excellent opportunity to tell the audience a story. The details are already there, they just need to be arranged in the most effective structure.

Weaving a Story

Using our patient testimonial example, here’s what a strong story would look like:

Organized.

Before diving into any story, you need to have a decent road map of the main points to share. A writer for Pixar noted the following progression as an excellent option for most stories: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

Keep it simple.

Don’t weigh readers down in minor details or irrelevant plot points. Doing this can take the reader down a rabbit hole, and far from the main purpose of the content. Heed the advice of famous author, Kurt Vonnegut: “Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.” In terms of a patient story, are we learning more about the hospital’s unique quality of care, the patient’s personality, or details that move us toward the resolution of the story?

Relatable.

Now it’s time to choose your protagonist, or main character. When sorting through patients and customers, you’ll likely have many to choose from. Selecting Sarah, a 40-year-old working mother of two, will probably be more relatable than Chad, a jet-setting 22-year-old heir to a yogurt fortune. But then again, maybe not—it all depends on your target audience.

Introduce tension.

Present an obstacle or two, early on, to give your reader a reason to root for the protagonist. What happened to this patient or customer that brought them to your facility?

High stakes.

Is life or death on the line? What about a major financial crisis? Make sure the severity of the issue is straightforward and clear for the reader. The high stakes should come directly after introducing the tension or struggle. Establish the problem and why the protagonist must overcome it—or else!

Tie loose ends together.

Is life or death on the line? What about a major financial crisis? Make sure the severity of the issue is straightforward and clear for the reader. The high stakes should come directly after introducing the tension or struggle. Establish the problem and why the protagonist must overcome it—or else!

Your reader made it to the end of the story, don’t leave them hanging. Tie loose ends together. Was the obstacle overcome? Even more than concluding the story, it’s important for content writers to include a moral or take-away message. Your readers should learn something from your message. If there’s nothing to gain, look for a stronger topic.

Consider these tips when crafting copy for blog posts, video scripts, and newsletters. You never know when the power of a good story will elevate your content to the next level.

 

Get more insights, ideas and best practices delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe Now

Topics: Content Strategy

Get Blog Updates by Email

Insight Magazine

The latest issue of Insight magazine offers fresh ideas to inform your marketing strategies. 
Start Reading Now!

Insight Magazine

Follow us on Twitter

 

Subscribe to get more news from True North Custom!