We’ve talked a lot about improving yourself as a writer lately.
Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, or both, knowing the truth about writer’s block and the demons you’ll face when writing can help you keep going when that blinking line on your screen looks like a curse.
So what’s left to talk about?
What do you think is the most valuable skill a writer can have?
Doesn’t matter WHAT they write – this skill is universally useful + infinitely valuable.
Can you guess what it is?
OK, I won’t leave you in suspense.
I’m talking about storytelling.
Wait, what was that? That reaction you just had. I felt that.
Were you thinking I was going to say something like “discipline” or “dedication?”
Sorry to disappoint you, but if you aren’t a good storyteller, it doesn’t matter how much you write – it will always sound “off” to your readers.
Why is storytelling so important?
Storytelling is how we, as humans, connect facts and information with our emotions, values, and innate understanding.
From a history standpoint, storytelling predates writing. It’s how we shared useful information and culturally significant beliefs about the world around us.
If you’re a fiction author, you might be thinking, “Duh Victoria, of COURSE storytelling is important when you’re creating a story out of thin air.”
You’re darn right, awesome fiction author, but what about your story?
Here’s a fun fact that most nonfiction authors know: people buy from people.
I know you’re super stoked about the fiction book your writing, but I’m guessing it’s not going to be your ONLY book, right? You want to write more and sell more?
Well, if that’s your plan, then you’re in business as an author, and the #1 way to sell books as an author is to connect to the reader as a person. Their hopes, fears, dreams, passions, curiosities – the book you’re writing undoubtedly has something to do with those aspects of you too.
Connecting to your readers as people, even a specific person, makes it much easier to market your book, and storytelling makes all the difference.
If you’re a nonfiction author, you might be thinking, “sharing the story behind why I wrote my book is going to be a key aspect of marketing my book.”
Fantastic nonfiction author, you’ve got a great head start, but what about the stories inside your book?
I’m not talking about making up fiction to talk about facts; I’m talking about using personal stories to convey the depth and importance of the information you’re sharing.
Here’s a fact most fiction authors know: readers respond with emotion first, then logic and reason.
Have you ever tried to talk about an in-depth subject like climate change, religion, or politics with someone who you know does NOT agree with you?
If you share a bunch of facts and figures with them, has it ever changed their minds or their behavior?
Nope. Zilch. Nada.
That’s because our decisions, actions, and overall beliefs are based on emotion, first and foremost. In the human brain, logic rarely overrides emotion.
As a nonfiction author, you can use this to your advantage by including at least one personal story (it can be about you or someone you know, changing minor details like names as needed) in every chapter in your book.
By the way, I’m talking about the tough stories. The struggles, the heartache, the failure, the loss, the conflict.
Remember, emotion first, and there are not stronger emotions than difficult ones.
Note: the story you tell can be your own, a fictionalized version of your own, a client’s story, a historical figure’s story, a publicly reported story, or any combination—but a good story will always tug on the reader’s emotions.
Our brains THRIVE on stories.
They entertain us, share information, give warnings, encourage beliefs, and are all-around fun.
Great storytelling can help connect emotions, information, and actions, all at the same time.
If you’re looking to improve your writing, the most valuable skill a writer can cultivate is storytelling.
There’s always something new to learn, my fellow writers, and perhaps storytelling is your next adventure.
Bio: Victoria Klein is a two-time published author (currently writing her 3rd book) and the VP of Production for Paper Raven Books. Formerly PRB’s first-ever Book Project Manager, Victoria has helped numerous authors through the self-publishing process from start to finish. Through her monthly posts, she’ll reveal the biggest concerns and mistakes of self-publishing authors, and how to solve them.