Writers Write creates writing resources. This post suggests five creative ways to make your storytelling more powerful when you write your books.
The Power of Storytelling
Have you ever noticed how comfortable people are with storytelling?
If you want to show empathy, you share a similar experience with a friend. If you want to explain danger to a child, you make up a funny character to make the idea of danger less threatening. If you want to explain a complex idea at a business meeting, you break it down into a simple metaphor or allegory.
No one feels they’re under attack when the story isn’t directly about them.
As writers, this is something we can keep in mind when we’re writing a novel. You’re always wrapping up your truth in the emollient folds of fiction – you’re asking the reader to be a vicarious spectator, not to be an active part of the narrative. They’re always once removed.
So why do readers come to the page?
Yes, of course they want to be entertained but they also want to experience the world you’ve created. ‘I just got lost in the story; I didn’t even notice the time passing.’ How many times have you heard someone say this? This is what is meant by escapism–your job is to offer your reader a respite from reality.
Safe on stage
Reading is an immersive experience. Writing is too. You have to go deep into your story to find its heart – to get to what your own truth through the fictional lens of your character and the reliable structure of a story – a beginning, middle, and end. Here you can act out your own problems on a safe stage. You don’t call them a problem in story – you call it a theme.
Letting it sink in
Every story has a point. It can be earth shattering or it can be subtle. It can be something the reader already knows, or it can spark an epiphany.
And, as a writer, the only way you can get to this point – this inevitable moment of insight – is by writing and writing some more.
5 Creative Ways To Make Your Storytelling More Powerful
- Keep a journal. Learn to examine and trust your own emotions so that you can do the same with your characters.
- Tell the story of your day. When you meet a friend or family member for coffee or lunch, try to relate the events of the day as a story with a beginning, middle and end.
- Reread a fairy tale. Whether it’s Cinderella or Aesop’s Fables, look at how story is used to illuminate a lesson or a theme in a simple way. Replicate that clarity in your own story.
- Interview a child or an elderly person. Sit with your grandparents or your child and ask them to tell you a story – don’t take notes or anything, just be aware of what makes their story engaging.
- Get a bit of history. Go to a museum or art gallery for an afternoon with a notebook or camera. When you get home, try to write a story about something or someone who fascinated you on your trip.
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