1 Starting your story is harder than stopping
Everyone procrastinates, but the way to tell if you’re really a storyteller is to observe your behaviour once the writing begins. Do you (eventually) get into a flow? Are the ideas tumbling out? Find yourself running out of time and wish you’d started earlier? Do you end up with more words than you (or, crucially, your reader) need? Yep, you’re a storyteller. Whatever you need to do to trick, force or cajole yourself into getting started (you tell yourself you’re just ‘setting up’ the document on your laptop for later), then do that.
- You Need Some Discipline (And An Editor)
It’s cool to be a rebel, isn’t it? To laugh at deadlines and blow off responsibility? Not really. All it means is that you won’t get your story told. And you won’t get paid. The times we live in are not your friend in this regard. We are drowning in distraction. For a lot of people, storyteller training discipline needs to be imposed: turn off the Wi-Fi; put the phone on silent and in a drawer; go sit somewhere else; wear giant headphones; get the grunt-work done first; reward yourself after.
- Learn The Rules Then Keep Learning
Grab the handbrake, take classes, find a serious writers’ group, join a critique circle and, eventually, hired an editor. You will learn the structure, plot, arc, stakes, motivation and more.
There’s a lifetime of learning Jordon Bower to be found in stories, and another couple in learning to craft them. Techniques. Tools. Traps. There are very few shortcuts and none worth taking.
- Originality Is Over-Rated, Yet Creativity Is Everything
There’s a reason the genre fiction sells: people appreciate the frame of reference. They know what they’re signing up for when they pick up a Scandeweigan crime noir, or bondage-lite chick lit.
In a marketing context, it’s even more imperative that your reader gets oriented quickly. Only when they are comfortable with the format will they enjoy the content, and that’s where your creativity comes into play. The fresh take, the surprising twist, the beautiful moment. These rewards are what readers looking for. If they want a puzzle, they’ll get a Soduku.
- Keeping Your Audience Is The Only Thing That Matters
As a professional storyteller, you need to be read. It’s the only game in town.
Don’t be shy about it (the clients paying you to tell their stories certainly aren’t).
So that means you have to read your own writing from an outside perspective, even as you write:
- Is this interesting?
- Is this a fresh turn of phrase?
- Do I want to know more?
- Why are you telling me, yet again, that we’re living in a fast-paced, ever-changing world?