Kim’s Tips for Better Storytelling (Part 1 of 3)

If you’ve been around me for any length of time, you’ll now I have two guiding principles for any of the “how to write your book” work that I do:

1. Your Message Matters

2. Stories Are Key

And while I talk about message a lot, I’m not sure I share enough about storytelling.

Here’s a truth bomb for you:

Facts tell. Stories sell.

(I got that pithy saying from my time in network marketing. And while, yes, it is a soundbite, it’s also very true!)

But more than SELLING, stories make your reader FEEL. And when you trigger an emotion in your reader, they will REMEMBER.

Because they WILL forget that system that you spent all that time trying to create a catchy name for. They won’t remember your fancy acronyms – even IF you can make the acronym word and your system fit together perfectly.

(Seriously, here! I could have sweated over making MY 5-part system fit into the acronym WRITE. But the truth is, you wouldn’t remember the steps anyway. What my clients DO remember are the stories I use to illustrate each part of each step. And that, my friend, is what your readers will remember too.)

Stories make your reader FEEL. And when you trigger an emotion in your reader, they will REMEMBER. Share on X

But it’s not just telling stories…

It’s HOW to tell them. This is the first part of a 3-part series with three techniques you can put into place TODAY to improve your storytelling skills. (No Creative Writing degree required!)

Storytelling Technique One: Watch a Movie.

Yep, I mean it. But I don’t mean to watch it for blind entertainment. I mean to really dissect it for the storytelling.

For this exercise, I recommend something OTHER than action, horror, or comedy (gasp!) because you want to have a good plotline and story drama to dissect. You’ll be watching the movie a few times, each time examining a different aspect of storytelling so pick something that you enjoy AND that has more than great explosions, creepy-crawlies popping out of closets, or a laugh-track.

I ALSO recommend avoiding movies that were based on books IF you’ve read the book. (If you haven’t read the book, then you’re looking at just the movie’s storytelling, and that’s okay!)

1. First, just watch the movie. This is where you get to just ENJOY it.

  • Even if you’ve seen it before, watch it just to refresh yourself and enjoy whatever it is about that movie that you like.
  • Make popcorn!


2. Watch it again, but this time, jot down how quickly the scene change.

  • How often are they moving from place to place. Pause it often and DESCRIBE their locations.
  • NOTICE how the location makes you feel… and ask yourself “Why do I feel this way when they’re in the kitchen? At work?”

3. Watch it again, but this time, look for how the characters TALK to each other.

  • How does the dialog unfold? Now, we know that actors aren’t permitted to fill their lines with too many “ahs” and “ums” and the natural pauses that humans normally have.
  • So how do the characters talk to each other?
  • Do they answer each question directly… or not?
  • When do they answer with a look or a gesture, instead of words?
  • When is there too MUCH dialog – and you (the viewer) could have gleaned the information from setting or action instead?

4. Watch it again, but this time pay close attention to what is only visually described. No words.

  • How does the plot move forward when the characters are silent and you the view must just WATCH and absorb?

(Discount the score or music that’s being played, authors don’t get sweeping musical scores!)

Then ask yourself:

  • How can I incorporate what works in film into my writing?
  • What aspects of visual storytelling did you love?
  • What feels like you’d never be able to translate from a movie to the page?
How can I incorporate what works in film into my writing? Share on X

Homework:

Use what you’ve learned from watching this movie FOUR times and apply it to the next story you’re telling in your book.

Kim Galloway
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