Stories Make Memories – Are You Using Stories in Your Writing?

When I work with clients, I’m always asking them about the stories they’re including in their book. And through the phone, I can hear their skepticism; what place does story have in a serious book that has a serious message that helps people change their lives?

And I think that’s the exact problem! You’re so concerned with your message (very important) and showing your expertise and credibility (also important) you miss the most critical piece:

Connecting with your reader.

041916-EngagementFrankly, your reader is NOT going to keep reading if your book is boring. And then your message goes right down the drain because they never read it!

What makes a boring book?

It’s when your reader can’t relate to the material; it doesn’t feel relevant, they can’t imagine themselves in that same situation. There’s no emotional engagement.

Readers don't connect with your material if it's boring. Story is the cure to a boring book! Share on X

STORY combats that all.

I was once hired to edit a book about using the power of the Internet to build a freedom-filled life. It was all about websites and email marketing and social media. It should have been engaging (after all, I’ve got an online business!) but it wasn’t.

There wasn’t a single personal story in there. The author could have been… anybody. She didn’t share anything about her struggles, mistakes she’d made, or successes she’d enjoyed. Nada.

I understand not wanting to put your vulnerability on the page. But you DO have a second option: case studies! If you don’t want to (or can’t) use your own stories, share stories from your clients, friends, people you’ve helped, etc. She could have done that.

I was paid to read the book and I could barely finish it. All the lessons I learned from the course of editing the book didn’t stick – because there were no stories to help make it memorable, engage my emotions, and help me learn.

So why aren’t you putting more stories in your writing?

Two {easy} ways to add more stories to your non-fiction writing. Share on X

If I had to guess, it’s one of two things:

  1. You don’t want to look like less than the expert you are.
  2. You don’t know how to craft a compelling story.

I get frustrated when the word ‘vulnerable’ gets tossed around – especially in relation to personal stories. That’s because most people don’t do vulnerable correctly!

I have a mentor who is always “vulnerable” – but she comes off looking like a hot mess.  That’s NOT what I’m talking about here!

When you’re sharing a personal story, it needs to be related to the topic at hand! Relevant and that shows your growth from the pain into the triumph! Here are some I use:

  • How my college TA didn’t want to share about publishing and made me feel like I wasn’t a real writer because I wanted to be published (share my message) and not just write for writing’s sake.
  • The difference I felt when I started writing and publishing books; not just the weekly newsletter to 10,000 people about camping, fishing, hiking, etc.
  • What it felt like to hold my first book in my hands for the first time.

I typically share these stories on my training calls.

And if you don’t know how to craft a compelling story…

You can learn! Trust me, a book with “bad” stories is always more engaging than a book with no stories! The story I shared above about the boring client book – let’s be honest, that’s not going to win any awards for my storytelling. But I’ll bet you will remember it!

Don’t get so hung up on thinking your story has to be perfect; that’s a lie you’re telling yourself! The stories in your book (or your blog posts) need to be relevant and engage your reader’s emotions.

With practice, you can get better!

Here’s a writing exercise for you (and I’d love it if you post it in the comments!)

Tell me a story of a time you felt like you were a failure at adulthood. (Laundry unfolded, trash didn’t get taken out, dishes undone, forgot to pay a bill, etc.) This will build your storytelling muscle AND your ability to share something vulnerable (probably NOT relevant to your business/writing project though!)

Be sure to use active verbs and at least 7 sentences!

Kim Galloway
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