Being able to tell your organization’s stories is vital to connecting with your audience. (Again, when I use the word story, I’m talking about a true tale, nonfiction).
How you tell your stories will determine who will be moved by them. You can find inspiring stories, whether you’re at a nonprofit or a business, by spending time with the people you are helping. I understand this can be difficult, especially if it’s not part of your regular job description. It’s often easy to get bogged down with daily duties.
In other instances, public relations managers focus their attention on getting the organization’s message out to the traditional news media. That used to be the most important way to reach a large audience. And while good media coverage still matters, someone in your organization should also be aware that a big part of what you should be doing is telling stories to your audience directly. This allows your audience to feel a greater connection to you.
Once you find a story to tell, it’s also important to craft it in a way that immediately grabs the reader’s attention. It’s essential that you identify what part of your story will do this, as well as how to structure it. The following series will walk you through how to write the beginning, middle, and end of a story.
This is the fourth part of a series of posts about writing a story. (Again, when I write the word story, I mean a true tale, nonfiction). Here, I will discuss what I mean by flavor and how to add it to your story.
“I like the sound of boom, boom,” firework maker Reach Ravuth said.
This is flavor. Flavor is that creative little extra that’s added to the story to show (not tell) readers a detail they wouldn’t get otherwise. It’s usually not necessary to tell the story, but it’s vital to make the story spicy. It makes it come alive. That Reach Ravuth likes the sound of fireworks going off shows you a bit of his personality.
He also says he’s not afraid of having an accident. Perhaps because the $250 a month he gets from making fireworks is good money. Perhaps because he was a soldier in the 1980s so he is still full of bravado, or perhaps because of his long experience with fireworks. He says he weighs the ingredients carefully and takes his time.
When I see flavor in a story I’m excited. It’s what makes the story sizzle. As a storyteller you have flexibility over what you decide to include. The same story could be told differently depending on who is telling it.
This is the third part of a series of posts about writing a story. (Again, when I write the word story, I mean a true tale, nonfiction). Here, I will discuss how to set the scene of a story by “reporting it to death.”
“Prak Sam Nang sits on a wooden bench his legs crossed in front of him, dipping his hand in a pot of glue and smoothing it across the thin brown cement bags. The firework makers create the glue by frying Tapioca flour and water until it becomes a thick white substance. Using a round metal mold, they shape the paper into a curved cup.
They fit two cups together and fill them with the homemade explosive ingredients: charcoal and metal burnt and melted together. They then smooth the ingredients over with more glue and paper and attach a string covered with another layer of the thin brown paper to one end of the device.”
You might have heard the phrase “setting the scene” in relation to fiction, but you can also use it when referring to a nonfiction piece. In some ways, it’s much more difficult to write. When you report a true story, you have to be a hundred percent sure the information is hundred percent accurate. That takes a lot of work. If I remember correctly, I spent at least a couple of hours learning about firework making that I then shortened into the above two paragraphs.
Accuracy is vital because you’re putting information out into the world as fact. You not only want it to be true, but also, your organization’s name is on the piece. Double check your sources. Don’t report anything you would like to be true just to support your cause.