How To Add Impact to Your Story-Based Articles

article writing

Creating impact

The other day, I went to buy some walking shoes.
And I ended up spending $2000. And that’s not counting the shoes.

Now, did that opening get your attention?

Sure it did. It sucked you in. And the reason you hear that strange sucking sound is because I didn’t start off the article like most people do. Most people slide logically into an article. But you can use the power of the story. And not just the story, but the middle of the story. Because there, smack bang in the middle, lies the drama—the part that really captivates your reader.

So how do you know what to pick as you unfold your story?

The answer is actually quite mundane—even, counter intuitive. To get that drama, you don’t have to pick anything particularly exciting. You just have to make it exciting for me.

So let’s say we went back into my world of yesterday

Were the purchase of the shoes the most important point?
Or was it the purchase of a draughtsman’s table?
Perhaps it could be Italian food we had for dinner. Or just about anything.

In a story, you have at least three-four exciting points and any one of them can rise to the surface. Yes, any point is exciting. What really matters, is how you bring a factor of excitement to the story. As you explain the details, the simple fact becomes interesting.

And master story tellers know this to be true

They know that even a mundane story can be brought to life in the way you recount it. In a presentation at TED.com, speaker, Hans Rosling tells a seemingly mundane story of a washing machine. And Hans has many options when telling this story, but he chooses to talk about the ‘button-driven miracle’ of the machine. And he stays with that angle to get your attention.

And here’s how it unfolds…

“I was only four years old when I saw my mother load a washing machine for the very first time in her life. That was a great day for my mother. My mother and father had been saving money for years to be able to buy that machine.

And the first day it was going to be used, even Grandma was invited to see the machine. And Grandma was even more excited. Throughout her life she had been heating water with firewood, and she had hand washed laundry for seven children. And now she was going to watch electricity do that work.

My mother carefully opened the door, and she loaded the laundry into the machine, like this. And then, when she closed the door, Grandma said, “No, no, no, no. Let me, let me push the button.” And Grandma pushed the button, and she said, “Oh, fantastic. I want to see this. Give me a chair. Give me a chair. I want to see it.”

And she sat down in front of the machine, and she watched the entire washing program. She was mesmerised. To my grandmother, the washing machine was a miracle.”

So what’s the interesting part in this story?

It could have been that the clothes came out extremely clean. It could have been the sound and how they were captivated by the sound of the machine. It could have been the changeover from hard labour to just a button-driven miracle. Hans chose the button-driven miracle. But as you can see, he could have chosen anything as long as he used emotions to drive home the story.

You can feel the excitement, the awe, as Hans tells the story. And it’s these set of emotions that keeps the drama going and the heart pulsating.

Which brings us to this bizarre set of conclusions

1. That you can pick any story, or any subset of a story to get the drama going. And you often find this drama somewhere in the middle of your story.
2. The most important factor is one of enthusiasm. Bringing out the fear, the surprise—all of those emotions are what keeps the reader engaged.

One of the best ways to get the reader’s attention is to tell a story. But easily the best way to get that story raging ahead is to pick something—anything from the middle of the story and use it to start your article.

And as you work down your way through your story, you’ll find at least two-three spots where you can harvest great emotion or unusual drama. Now that you have that emotion/drama, it’s just a matter of putting that stuff at the top and drawing your reader in.

It’s a beginning no reader can resist.

 

About the author:

Sean D’Souza is a writer, marketing guru and expert on sales psychology. To read more articles by Sean, and get a very useful free report on “Why Headlines Fail”, go to PsychoTactics.com.

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11 Responses to “How To Add Impact to Your Story-Based Articles”

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  1. Here’s what was an “aha” moment for me…”Because there, smack bang in the middle, lies the drama”. This has been a problem for me for quite sometime. The middle of my stories always seemed to sag and bounce like a rope bridge. I could get them up to par to a point and then it seemed that they would sag back down again. Now, because of those ten words, I feel that I can breath life back into these stories that are sitting on the shelf. Thanks so much!
    Vickie Medley recently posted..Old Pawn, Indians & Joey BishopMy Profile

  2. Liz McGee says:

    I like that Sean, it’s a completely new way of looking at telling a story.

    When you think about this, the middle is really where the drama and emotion typically lies. A method to try for drawing my reader in for next time.

    Liz
    Liz McGee recently posted..8 Easy Blog Post Ideas For Busy BloggersMy Profile

  3. Carmelo says:

    Hey Sean … I like this. Gives me some great ideas on how to draw in the reader. But, it also is very enlightening when it comes to telling stories. They don’t have to be great stories! Sometimes we pine over the notion that we don’t have interesting things to say, captivating stories. But we do. We all have emotions. It’s capturing the emotion in the little stuff that make for great stories.

    Thanks for the reminders and thanks for the explanation.
    Carmelo recently posted..Changing the WorldMy Profile

  4. Mary Jaksch says:

    Hey Sean, I’ve just bought your ‘StoryTelling Mini Series’ with three booklets about how to write stories. It’s amazing! They are some of the best things I’ve read about writing stories.

    If someone wants to add some KAPOW to their writing check out the mini series below:
    Here is the link: http://www.psychotactics.com/products/story-telling
    Mary Jaksch recently posted..How To Live a Life of HappinessMy Profile

  5. Very enlightening, Sean. I think many of us writers try to get in every aspect of the story from beginning to end and make every aspect equally important. But you’re right. The impact comes not by being comprehensive, but by zooming in on the crux of a moment. Can’t wait to get started on my next story!
    Sarah L. Webb recently posted..Clearing out the ClichesMy Profile

  6. Jevon says:

    Using emotions to drive your article. I have to try it. Thanks Sean.
    Jevon recently posted..How to Write and Still LiveMy Profile

  7. Everyone loves stories, so no wonder they are so effective in engaging readers!

    In blogging personal stories are the best, because they are not only interesting, but they create a strong connection between the blogger and his or her readers. When I read blogs by bloggers who write most of their articles based on their personal experiences I usually feel like I know them in person.