The Power of Written Storytelling

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.

1. The Power of Written Storytelling: The Beginning (Part 1)

2. The Power of Written Storytelling: The Middle: Why Does Your Story Matter? (Part 2)

3. The Power of Written Storytelling: The Middle: Setting the Scene by Reporting the Story to Death (Part 3)

4. The Power of Written Storytelling: The Middle: Adding Flavor (Part 4)

5. The Power of Written Storytelling: The End: Why Write Awesome Endings? (Part 5)

Also, check out: Nonprofits Telling Awesome Stories: charity: water (Part 1) and Tyler Riewer’s Adventures With charity: water

Plus, Serial Storytelling on Social Media.

The Power of Written Storytelling: The Middle: Adding Flavor (Part 4)

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.

Spices and tea!

Adding some flavor to your story is just like adding spice to your soup! You need to add just the right amount. (Photo credit: Clyde Robinson)

“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.

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