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

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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! Click To Tweet

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. Click To Tweet

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 Eldredge
Find me!

Kim Eldredge

Best-Selling Author, Kim Eldredge is your Intuitive Ghostwriter, Story Pathfinder, and New Frontier Publisher. She specializes in helping authors, speakers, and entrepreneurs take their books from dream to reality.
Kim Eldredge
Find me!
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