Are Your Articles Telling Stories?

by Robb Sutton

Truly great connections are made through the telling of stories. By stimulating the imagination and encouraging creativity, we are able to connect with our readers on a deeper level that can only be obtained by sparking the mind. While we churn out blog posts, we are…in effect…creating an art through words. Many of us do not consider our writing art as we may come from a more engineering, business, corporate background, but by blogging…you are participating in one of the oldest art forms in existence…writing.

To grow your blog and see the success you seek, you must make that vital connection with your readers. With this strong connection, you will realize the growth and viral spreading of blogging.

Those that know me (or follow me on Twitter) know that I am a cycling obsessed, wanna-be photographer that also happens to own a blog network. What surprises me the most is how similar the art of connecting with people through words is to that same connection with photographs.

Recently, a friend of mine and fantastic photographer, Joe (regularjoe on Flickr), sent me this link to David Griffin’s talk on telling stories and making that connection with photographs.

As director of photography for National Geographic, David Griffin works with some of the most powerful photographs the world has ever seen.

Like most things in my life, I started seeing the parallels between great photography and blogging. Ideally, to make that connection with your readers, you need to be telling a story with your blog and your articles. Take a close look/watch and start to relate this video back to your blogging.

Telling A Story With Your Blog

Now that you have seen how it is done with photographs, how can we apply this back to your blogging. The following list is a few tips/tricks I use while writing that helps me tell a story to you guys through my blog articles.

Visualize While Writing

I am a visual learner by nature, so when I read blog posts, I sometimes struggle with writers that are not painting a picture on the subject they are writing about. Especially in the cycling world, I try to literally paint a picture with words and walk my readers through the experience. By telling this “story”, I can connect through my words and solve the problems that face my readers on a personal level.

On this blog, I do things like the following: “As you sit down with a blank “new post” screen scratching your head on what to write and how to connect with that new search engine visitor, sit back, take a deep breath and go to those same feelings you had with writers block and how you conquered the fear.”

I literally picture myself sitting in front of the computer screen in my head and relate those feelings to words on a page. By making that emotional connection through words, you will make a connection with your readers that will make them want to come back for more.

Lay Out The Scene

Fantastic images that tell a story are not shot on accident. The composition of the photograph brings the viewer on the journey without actually being present. When I was starting to shoot with a super wide angle lens, Joe told me to really focus on composition and tell the events that were about to take place through a single image. For example, with mountain bikers, show where they are going to ride next or the obstacles they face.

With your readers, you need to do the same. You need to lay out the scene and show them what they can expect next through your words. Each article is a part of a sequence that adds up to the whole. Are you just publishing articles on what you feel like that particular morning? Or are you planning out the story and linking subject matters together to lay out the scene? By planning your articles and their sequence, you take your readers on a journey that will bring them back.

No One Wants To Read Research Papers

Just like no one connects with bland photography, your readers do not want to read research papers. They connect with blogs because of the personal nature of the writing. There are no footnotes, no table of contents…just the relationship between the bloggers words and the readers emotions on the other side of the screen.

By telling stories through your words, you can make that connection and keep readers coming back for more time and time again.

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Jarrod@ Optimistic Journey April 27, 2010 - 10:48 pm

I am a testament that this is a proven method. Some of the best articles that I’ve written are articles that create a visual image or story in the readers minds. So this article affirms this method for me. Thanks for sharing!!

Robb Sutton April 29, 2010 - 7:18 am

Thanks for chiming in Jarrod! Amazing what a difference this theory can make in your blogging.

Jasmine Henry from System Fail News April 30, 2010 - 2:10 pm

Even if a blogger has difficulty telling a story through a post, an attempt at doing so could be by creating a series of posts that aim to help the readers. This way bloggers can tell the tale of how they, themselves may have struggled with something but used ‘these tips’ or ‘methods’ to overcome it, with ‘this outcome’… and so on.

alex May 2, 2010 - 7:33 pm

I completely agree Robb! Not only does telling a story enable your reader to become engrossed in the article, it also allows your personality to come through, which in turn allows your reader to relate and increases the chances of them staying.
Beside all this, I personally find it soooo much easier to learn something if an analogy is provided and more often than not, telling a story either involves one or indirectly is one!


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