I read. A lot.
That’s hundreds of thousands of words each year that I consume. Want to know what keeps me scrolling down or flipping pages?
(And no, I don’t only read fiction! I mostly read non-fiction, actually.)
What I’ve discovered through my years of working with non-fiction authors is that very few actually understand the power of story – and know how to harness that power to keep readers turning pages, to make the messages sink in, to make their words have significance and impact.
Stories are how we interact with the world – not just the 1, 2, 3 of plot but the emotion that a well-crafted story can invoke. So then why, for heaven’s sake, aren’t more non-fiction writer’s getting on board with story?Stories are how we interact with the world. Are you telling stories in your writing? Click To Tweet
Earlier this year, I was working with a client on a fascinating project about inner wisdom – how to listen to it, how to let it guide you. Fascinating and much-needed topic that was being addressed in ways I’d never seen before.
And it was dry-as-dust boring.
It wasn’t that it was written using fancy language but that there was nothing that would help me move the principles and exercises from the vague into the concrete. I had nothing to anchor into – no real-world examples, no anecdotes, no STORY. There was nothing in the writing that would invoke my emotions – and thus move the reading from merely interesting to applicable.
The author and I went back and forth on that – she thought that the “technical” descriptions were enough. I kept saying that I could READ it but not understand it. I had no way of deciding if it was relatable to my own life – and if it was, how to make any changes.
We parted ways with the author agreeing to add in more stories. Whew.
I’m a firm believer that you can NEVER have too many stories. You can’t engage the reader’s emotions too much. This is where fiction has so much to teach non-fiction.Your non-fiction book can NEVER have too many stories! Help your reader stay engaged. Tell a story! Click To Tweet
If I asked you right now to tell me about your favorite novel, you’ll tall me an abbreviated version of the plot – the story. You’d also, without even realizing it, tell me how the main character changes, grows, evolves over the course of the book. Because that change and growth is powerful – and relatable to anyone older than 10!
So why aren’t you using these tools from fiction – story, emotion, tension, pacing, plot – in your non-fiction works?
Frankly, I think it’s because you don’t know how. You might remember some of those terms from a high school or college English class but to know that they’re not only relatable but required in your book?
Yep, you don’t realize you need to make the connection. Or you can make the logical connection but have no clue how to actually create that on the page. But it’s needed – and easier than you think.
Stay tuned for next week’s article about the easiest (and fastest) way to start to tell stories in your writing!