Structure is the difference in doling out drivel and telling a story. We’ll outline some storytelling basics you can use in your next blog post to hook the reader early, keep them reading along, and finish with a bang. There’s an old adage about public speaking that suggests you start by telling your audience what you’re going to tell them. We think there’s some merit in that thought.
Shine a Light on Your Purpose
Start with a purpose, point your way to where you’re going and tell your reader what they’re going to get out of the deal. Just don’t give the end away. A real hook will create interest without answering all the questions and give the reader a reason to continue reading.
Lights, Camera, Action
Next, set the stage. Introduce your relevant facts, information, or set the scene. Ground your reader in the world you’re going to be discussing. If you’re making a case for the use of all-natural organic fertilizers, here’s where you’d talk about the ways chemical pesticides can harm the earth. If you’re telling the story of an amputee realizing her goals through the use of prosthetic limbs, here’s where you talk about the difficulty she faces. Stories need a setting, so create yours here.
Setting the stage should include creating some obstacles. Whether your story is about the futility of fighting intractable forces or an inspiring tale of overcoming impossible odds, you’ve got to have an obstacle to overcome. It might be a mountain and it might be a molehill, as long as it provides tension, you’ve done your job.
Once you’ve set the stage and built your obstacle, provide the spark. Stories need action. Action creates interest, and here’s where you provide yours. Set your hero on the path to overcome their obstacle or tell your audience about the solution to the problem you’ve described.
The Triumphant Return
After you’ve provided the spark that sets your story in motion, feed the fires and watch the fireworks. Combine your previously constructed obstacles with your newly-introduced action. Something’s going to give, and the fun part is figuring out what. Telling a story about how your pool chemicals create the safest swimming environment? This part is where you’ll describe how they work, the problems they solve, and all the exciting chemical reactions. In your inspirational tale, this is when the heroine actually reaches her goal. This is the climax, the final battle.
Wrap It Up
Finally, wrap it up nicely. Did you hang a big unanswered question in the air when you opened? You’d better answer it here. Reflect on the action, remind the reader how the hero triumphed and apply the moral of whatever tale you’ve told to whatever lesson you’re teaching. Once you’ve got that under control, you’ll be on your way to telling compelling stories.