Copywriter, Journalist, and Content Coach

Bring Your Story to Life

Photo by Pixabay

Show, Don’t Tell

Don’t say, “Boston is an old city” unless you mean to be blunt and terse. Or unless your next statement is something like “Beneath angular glass towers shouldering into a hot sky stood a church built of rough gray and red stone, with three round, gabled arches sheltering the doors, and square towers whose Gothic windows gaze back upon the shiny glass serenely.” In that case, the phrase “Boston is an old city” becomes an introductory transition.

Everything is a Character

You can help people relate to the story by giving things you describe a personality. In the example of the church in Boston, the arches take on a protective posture, and the windows express emotion.

Think “Speaking,” not “Writing”

When people sit down to write, they feel like they’re back in school, and they usually write stuffy, academic, stilted prose. Pretend you’re talking to your reader, use some casual language (yeah!), use contractions, and let your own voice come through. If you’re sassy, be sassy. If you’re quiet, be quiet. Just relax.

Use Stories

Always introduce a new idea with a human story. Stories can establish context, set the problem, and get the reader thinking in a general way about the subject. Don’t say, “Several studies demonstrate that the facial expressions of dogs map very closely to human expressions.” Instead, say “As Fifi gazes up into her face, Geraldine says “Look at those sad little eyes. Where’s that sweet ol’ smile, baby?”

Use your Senses.

When describing a setting, event, or person, use sight, sound, smell, hot/cold and other sensory details. This makes your story more engaging. ‘As we went on, a cool, damp fog rose up out of the river like hot breath on a winter afternoon…” Even in journalism or expository writing, these kinds of descriptions create a more vivid sense of presence for the reader.