Tell Them Stories to Keep Them Writing

The Writer’s Book of Wisdom by Steven Taylor Goldsberry

No matter what you’re writing—be it analytical chemistry reports, environmental impact statements, or documentary strategies for the exculpation of the Nazi demimonde (falderal and fiddle-de-dee)—you can get your readers interested with a good story.

This happened and then that happened, which led up to the most amazing incident.

The Pierce family refused to let go of Christmas and left their tree up. It was still there in April, when the fire started.

Essay writers know this as "the anecdotal opening." And it’s the kind of tactic used to elicit a reader’s trust and attention.

The trick is to know when your prose might need the rejuvenation of a quick narrative burst. Scan your entire document, looking for long passages of exposition, description, or dialogue. Do they carry on at the risk of boring your reader? If so, insert an anecdote, fable, folk tale, legend, parable, joke, any bit of storytelling art to break them up. A book can be a perpetual motion machine, but only if you pack it with the self-generating power of electrical narrative.

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