If you want to get an idea across, tell it in a story.
We all know, tell it in a story.
But, here’s the hard truth, as inimitably presented by Steven Pressfield, “Nobody wants to read your shit.” Or hear about your shit. Or even cares about your shit.
Not even your mother, if we’re being honest about it.
The writer and the reader have a contract. The reader is willing to read what you write if you make it so compelling that it’s worth the time and effort to read it. Not what is valuable to you, what is valuable based on the needs of the reader.
So how do you tell your story so that people will read it, learn from it, be convinced by it, be entertained by it, be motivated by it, and/or act on it?
Here is how not to do it:
- Introduce the thesis
- Provide examples to support the thesis
- Recap and summarize
A good story has three elements.
- Hook the reader, grab him or her so that he/she is compelled to go on. Every story has an inciting incident, the point where the story begins.
- Build, escalate the tension, suspense, stakes, and excitement. What's the problem? What's its significance? This act belongs to the villain.
- Pay off, bring it all home with a bang. What's going to really inspire the reader, learner, or customer? How do they win?
And when writing, begin the process of writing your story by determining that climax, first figure out where you want to finish, then figure out how you’re going to build tension and suspense and finally how you’re going to hook the reader.
You want to teach something? What’s a payoff in that lesson that your learners will embrace? Who or what is the villain, and how are you going to build tension or increase the stakes? What is going to hook the learners?
You want to describe or sell a product? How is your description or presentation going to climax? What is the ordeal that provides tension and excitement to the reader or listener? What is going to grab them?
Hook. Build. Payoff.
You’re going to find that a lot more effective than introduce, explain, recap.