Thoughts

50 Ways To Keep Your Reader.

Written by Sophie BradshawCreativity

Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.
Robert McKee

We know that storytelling plays a big part in making our writing interesting and keeping our reader engaged. Stories are the currency of humanity. From Grimm’s fairy tales to Aesop’s fables, they are what bring ideas to life.

But how do we use them in our writing?

How do we find stories to tell?

I’m going to come clean straight away: there won’t be 50 ways to keep your reader in this article; I was just channelling Paul Simon. Instead, I’m going to show you 3 engaging ways to bring your writing to life by telling stories. I call them the three As:

1. Anecdote

Anecdotes are the stories we tell every day in our conversation. We can’t help it — we store up the things that happen to us and repeat them when we want to illustrate a point. Have you ever explained something to a child using a story from your own childhood? And do you remember your own parents doing this? You bet. Because stories stick. Using personal anecdotes in your writing doesn’t just bring things to life, it also tells the reader something about you, building trust and personality behind your brand. The more engaged we are with the author of a piece of writing, the more likely we are to keep reading. Can you tell your reader a story about yourself that illustrates the point you are making?

2. Allusion

Allusion is an expression of speech or writing that refers to another work, place, person or event. This can be anything — real or imagined — and can be direct or inferred. I might allude to a book, a character, a piece of art, a film, or a point in history. The title of this article is an allusion to a song. Using allusion in your writing does three things:

  • It makes your idea stronger and more memorable, as your reader has an ‘anchor point’ to refer to. Consider how much more powerful ‘His Scrooge-like attitude’ is than ‘His miserly attitude to money’.
  • It allows you to express a fully-formed idea quickly and succinctly. ‘The firm may use this as a Trojan horse’ describes the situation perfectly without having to go into lengthy explanations.

3. Analogy

Analogy is simply a comparison of one thing with another. The most powerful way of using analogy in your writing is to explain a complex idea by comparing it with an everyday object or occurence. In *A Brief History of Time, *Stephen Hawking uses the analogy of a balloon to describe black holes. This is a good example of an author thinking about his reader — he knows they don’t understand black holes, but they do know what a balloon is. So, he takes his reader with him, using the familiar to explain the unknown. How could you explain your point using something that is familiar to your reader?

Stories are everywhere. So, next time you have an idea to share or a concept to explain, pick one of the methods above and use it as a template. Your reader will thank you for it.

Written by
Sophie Bradshaw
Writing coach and developmental editor
Sophie believes that everyone can write a book and that writing a book is the best way to inspire others. She is as passionate about your book idea as you are, and wants to help you get it off the ground. Her love of books and writing started at a young age. In 2002, she graduated from Cambridge University with an MA in Linguistics, French and Russian, and went straight into a career in non-fiction publishing. She lives in a 200-year-old cottag...

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