If you’ve been following the storytelling blog posts, you’ve likely discovered that we are building a series of tools and resources to help you fine-tune your organization’s marketing message through storytelling.
We’ve talked about the art and science of grant writing, collecting stories, and the structure of a story. Now I want to delve into how to tap into your creative storyteller!
If you do any writing at all, you will know that the first couple of sentences of any story are often the hardest – and that that first draft is often when you simply put your ideas down on paper without thought to structure, punctuation, grammar, or flow.
So how does one jumpstart the writing process? Figure out what needs to be said (beyond the Storyboard template, that is) and how it is best to say it?
Writers will tell you to simply start typing (or writing). It doesn’t matter what shows on the paper: “The little brown fox jumped over the fence to see what was on the other side”. Once you are going just let your mind take you where it will: “Charlotte had had a hard life. Raised by a single mom who was struggling to make ends meet by working three jobs, charlotte often found herself alone in her small one-bedroom apartment. Opening a can of…”
Some recommend starting in the middle. “Charlotte was 19 and soon to be a mom. She had little to no parenting skills as a result of raising herself. She loved her growing child with all of her heart, and feared becoming a mother. She knew she needed help…”
Others suggest a fill in the blank approach similar to Mad Libs: Once upon a time _____________ there was a ___________________ who was _________ with ____________ and needed help to ________________. _______ reached out to _____________ seeking assistance for ______________ and ____________. ________ found that _______________. Your Mad Lib sentence can be whatever you want. The purpose is to simply start writing.
The key is to get started. Once you story is started. Simply write. Don’t edit as you go. Write.
Let it flow out of your mind and onto the screen (or paper) until you’ve captured all the key points you want to present.
Now go back and review, edit, wordsmith, re-arrange, and fine-tune what it is you are saying.
It doesn’t matter if it is simply a single line that is going to be used to describe a picture and highlight an activity your team has been focused on, or if it is a press release for the local newspaper, editing is crucial. Edit it yourself first.
Then, when you think it is tight, concise, and ready, forward it to the best writer you know – let them have a go on it. You’ll be surprised at how much more they can tighten it up and make the message shine.
Once you are happy with the final product, test it out in various ways. How can it be adapted for presentations? For social media? For video? How can you cross-promote it? Ask for feedback – and use that feedback to further hone the message.
Test, experiment, and play until you’ve got a message that is reaching the right audience and inviting them to take the action you desire. You’ll come to appreciate how the small shifts in language and presentation can impact the results you achieve.
We’d love to hear about your storytelling experiences – and to lend our insight to your questions – so please share below.