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Storytelling – how to write a short story

In this post, I will disenchant storytelling. You will find that, despite the fancy name, it’s nothing complicated. Whether you came here through creative inspiration or as a marketing manager – after reading this article, you’ll know how to write a story that will win your readers’ acclaim. You will also learn how to use storytelling in your daily communication.

How to write a short story

Storytelling – a term used in marketing. Storytelling is about presenting a product, service or idea with a narrative that will inform, convince and inspire the recipient.

>> Storytelling – what is it? How to use it to get customers? <<

Imagine you are sitting at the school desk with me. We are right in the room where you studied English. We sit at the back, in the last row from the window. Behind us there is only a well-worn wall unit that covers the entire rear part of the room.

Moving my gaze further among the smaller cabinets and suspiciously lush ferns. Eventually, you will reach the dirty-green board at the front of the room, on which today’s topic, “How to Write a Short Story”, is outlined in white chalk.

The teacher present in the room explains that the elements of the story are the introduction, development and ending. He argues that the narrative throughout the piece must take place at the same time. He indicates that this literary type should be enriched with other forms of expression – elements of description, characteristics, dialogues. He hints that the best way to start a story is to say “it started like this …”, “once …” and end with “this event I will never forget” or “they lived happily ever after”.

However, you cannot pay attention to the topic of the lesson for a moment. Do you know why? Because you’re terribly bored. Your brain has been programmed to ignore unnecessary things. And the above information seems to you completely unnecessary.

You get bored because you already know how to construct a story. Storytelling is in your genes. People have been telling stories for hundreds of thousands of years, and you are no exception. You know how to tell stories because you do it every day.

You create stories by talking on the phone, meeting an old friend in the street, and “introducing yourself” on your first date. You’re already a storyteller. Your mind is subconsciously aware of this. That’s why you don’t have to learn storytelling skills, you just have to discover it.

However, note that telling a story is not the same as writing short stories. So let me remind you of some basic rules anyway.

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Principles of writing stories

Building a story:


Each story you’ve ever told is nothing but a sequence of events taking place one after another. For the purposes of literary terminology, it was decided to divide this sequence into introduction, development and ending.

In the introduction, you should present the profiles of the heroes and outline the place of action. Development is a space to describe the difficulties faced by the characters. In the end, the fate of the characters is explained, and the whole thing can be crowned with a punch line or a moral.

This many theories is more than enough. There is no need for you to memorize specific phrases and strictly stick to the chosen narrative time. In fact, there is only one universal rule – a good story must arouse the emotions of the reader.

All other elements can be bent (or completely abandoned). Read my short nine-word short story:

“I had a woman once, but she tried to get rid of my dog.

The first utterance in this sentence (I once had a woman) is undoubtedly the introduction. The second termination (but she tried to get rid of my dog) is a development. There is no ending at all in my mini-story, although the structure of the previous parts allows the reader to guess at it.

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These few words also evoke certain emotions in the reader. Their intensity and direction depend on the views on animals and interpersonal relations 😉 However, despite everything, the reader should not be indifferent to these words. Some recipients will say “but a snowman”, another part “poor doggy – good for her,” and another will simply smile (it is also an emotion).

Remember that almost every emotion in your story should belong to the reader, not the narrator. Therefore, do not help the recipient in thinking. Don’t write that something is funny or sad. Let the reader judge it.

If the story aroused any emotions, it also did its job. We, on the other hand, passed the topic of classes and we can boldly leave the room.

Storytelling – why is it worth it

Creating good stories helps with many daily activities. Along with the quality of your stories, your influence on the environment will increase. You have to reckon with the fact that if you give up narrating entirely, your ideas will stay in your head forever.

Carmine Gallo, author of the best-selling guide “Speak Like TED,” stated that:

“One colorful, emotional story told to a customer is more persuasive than 85 data-laden slides in Power Point.”

Carmine is right. Notice how many products are packed with amazing stories. From Iphone to Coca-Cola. We do not buy an ordinary touch phone or sugar water anymore. We buy the impression that in our pocket there is the effect of a creative combination of the latest technology with usability. We buy a picture of beautifully decorated trucks that deliver the drink directly to the festive table. In the age of knowledge and information, we primarily buy ideas.

Hear how storytelling masters Steve Jobs or Elon Musk talk about their products. In their speeches you will not find detailed technical data of the presented product.

Their presentations always focus on the story, on the problem the solution of which led to the creation of a specific device. The best speakers are constantly creating a narrative. They provide the audience with an introduction, expansion, and ending. With the help of stories, they reach their hearts and minds (and ultimately – wallets).

Remember, however, that the power of storytelling goes far beyond selling. All religion is nothing but storytelling. You won’t find any tables or graphs in the Bible. Instead, you will find hundreds of stories that ignited the imaginations of billions of people around the world and often influenced them so strongly that they were ready to spend much more than a few dozen dollars on them. The recipients of these stories were ready to devote their lives to them.

>> How to write a good article <<

We’ve all shared stories for hundreds of thousands of years. It doesn’t matter if you make Power Point presentations, participate in an interview or write an email – you are already a storyteller and you will not run away from creating stories.

Storytelling – how to start

If you want to consciously introduce storytelling into your business (or life), you can’t just see it in terms of a marketing activity. Storytelling is primarily your perception of reality. The way you look at your world and the events taking place in it.

Many people mistakenly assume that to make a good story they have to make up stories. It’s not true. If the audience hates something more than boredom, it is the lack of authenticity. You are yourself. Nothing will change that, and if you try, it will only make yourself laughable.

There is a story behind everything in your life. Eventually, some circumstances made you start a business, start a blog, or turn up for an interview. Try to find interesting elements in these circumstances and present them in your story.

Okay – but what does “interesting” mean? It is very easy. If you are authentic – you will also be curious. You don’t have to make any effort. People don’t want science fiction and perfect heroes.

Note that each story is essentially a story of a struggle that resulted in overcoming certain difficulties. The perfect storytelling is like a mirror image of reality. Just like in life – there are both positive and negative heroes, twists and turns, and overcoming difficulties ends with igniting the passion and inspiring the recipient. Find such items in your story and simply show them off.

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Your story doesn’t have to be out of this world. Take a look at how popular television para-documentaries are. The viewers do not pay attention to the nightmarish diction and acting. It is these elements that allow them to identify with the heroes and experience the events presented with them. Your audience isn’t perfect – that’s why you don’t have to be like that either.

Learning storytelling

Basic principles of storytelling:

Tell your story in an interesting way
Arouse emotions

1. Tell your story in an interesting way
You will know a well-made story by the fact that nothing can be subtracted from it – not added. Try not to bother the recipient with unnecessary details. The story should be simplified so that the audience can remember its most important elements.

In 2005, on the occasion of the promotion of Stanford University students, Steve Jobs gave his famous speech (over 30 million views on Youtube). All material takes 15 minutes and 4 seconds. During this time, the speaker told three stories that became a source of inspiration for millions of young people. And each of them could be told in 5 minutes.

When you talk about your product, service, or simply – write a story – be respectful of the reader’s time and attention.

2. Arouse emotions
The more stimuli you use, the better your chance of reaching the recipient’s mind. You don’t have to limit your message to words only. When telling the story, you can use gestures and the appropriate volume of voice. You can use videos and photos.

Many storytellers also use presentations (e.g. in Power Point). Remember, however, that a poorly prepared multimedia presentation can do more harm than good.

The recipients of the message can be divided into two groups – rational and emotional. Which group is more numerous? Naturally – the latter. The overwhelming majority of people are guided in their lives by emotions. Each group of recipients is appealed by a different nature of the stimuli.

The structure of a perfect story:

10% – Evidence (Ethos)
25% – Logic (Logos)
65% – Emotions (Pathos)

Carmine Gallo points out that an ideal story should speak 65% to the emotional sphere of the recipient (Pathos), 25% to the sphere of his logic (Logos), the remaining 10% should be devoted to evidence and credibility (Ethos).

Most of us tend to overdo the realm of Logos and Ethos. After all, everyone would like to be seen as a rational person who presents the topic in question logically and presents reliable data.

This is how a large part of academic teachers behave, who, after the age-old struggle with laptop and projector cables, finally manage to display a boring presentation full of tables and not-knowing-who-funny pictures.

Remember these really good teachers. I bet they were people who could appeal to your imagination. People who could easily talk about complicated things. People who were able to infect you with their passion.

>> How to write a presell article <<

Exactly – passion is the sphere of emotions. You will not present it using a table with sales data. Therefore, more than overdoing your emotions, you should fear that you will be labeled a “stiff”.

3. Inspire
You don’t have to have thousands of stories. One is enough – but mastered to perfection. Perfection is only achieved through training. The more you tell and write, the better it will be.

Inspiring is telling stories about struggling with adversities. We all love stories that end in overcoming difficulties.

Storytelling will allow you to reach the minds of your recipients, and then inspire them to a specific action. Then your ideas will have a chance to turn into reality.

Storytelling and copywriting

In the case of SEO copywriting, you can use storytelling already at the article level. Always remember about the purpose of specific types of text. Nobody requires telling amazing stories when writing backs or pretzels. However, Copywriting is not only SEO.

Any good copywriter should also be a good storyteller. We live in the era of content marketing, so in addition to the quality of the product, the history associated with it is also important. Help your clients find this story. Make your lyrics focused on the story, not the statistics.

Strengthen your articles with emotions. Remember that writing short stories, or more broadly – storytelling, is your way of shaping the reality around you.

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