7 Storytelling Tips From Great Writers

The best marketing today revolves around great storytelling, not mindless advertising. People are overwhelmed with information – if you want to succeed you need to make them pay attention and care. To do that, your stories need to connect with your audience emotionally.

No one “opts-in” to boring stuff. We have a world of choices at our fingertips.

But telling great stories isn’t easy. In fact, it can be pretty damn hard. People are too often trained to be “professional” when writing for business purposes. Unfortunately, professional has become a synonym for boring, verbose and officious.

That doesn’t work.

So if your company wants to tell better stories, take heed of these tips from great writers.

The first draft of everything is shit. — Ernest Hemingway

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. Sylvia Plath

As for your use of language: Remember that two great masters of language, William Shakespeare and James Joyce, wrote sentences which were almost childlike when their subjects were most profound. ‘To be or not to be?’ asks Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The longest word is three letters long. — Kurt Vonnegut

RELATED: Copywriting tips from George Orwell

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it – Elmore Leonard

Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong. — Neil Gaiman

Work on a computer that is disconnected from the internet. — Zadie Smith

The research shouldn’t overshadow the story. — Stephen King

RELATED: Copywriting tips from Jack Kerouac.

So there you have it: put interesting, compelling words on the page that a regular human would want to read and you are on your way to a better story.

Allan Gates

Allan Gates is a partner with Bonfire.