There are many forms of stories. Journalists call their articles stories. We call the tales we read to children or tell around the campfire stories. Fiction writers call their non-book-length works “short stories,” and, of course, novels are simply long stories.
Regardless of the form — whether fiction or nonfiction — the same techniques apply. And whether we are writing stories to entertain, inform or market and brand our businesses, good storytelling techniques work across the board.
Kurt Vonnegut, best known for the novels Slaughterhouse Five and Breakfast of Champions, provides this advice for writing great stories (you can hear him read these tips himself in a YouTube video):
- Use the time of a perfect stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
- Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
- Every character should want something, only if it is a glass of water.
- Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.
- Start as close to the end as possible.
- Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your characters are, make awful things happen to them in order that your reader may see what they are made of.
- Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
- Give your readers as much information as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding, where and why, that readers could finish the story themselves should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
So use Vonnegut’s tips to find and write your own kick-butt stories to connect with your audience and promote your business!
Need help writing great stories for your business? It’s what we do. Email us at [email protected] or call 757-930-0032.
- Writer’s Tips #64: From the Lips of Kurt Vonnegut (worddreams.wordpress.com)
- Kurt Vonnegut library offers pupils free copies of banned book (guardian.co.uk)
- KURT VONNEGUT, WORLD WAR II and a tale of three cities. (westcoastword.wordpress.com)