writing tips

Writing Tips: Allow Your Stories to Unfold Gently

Have you seen the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel? I finally saw it this weekend and had heard that it was delightful but enjoyed it much more than I anticipated. It’s full of some of my favorite actors, especially Maggie Smith and Judi Dench. The writing was fabulous as was the acting.

But as I watched the movie, what I noticed the most was the gentle unfolding of the story, which felt much more real than a book or movie that outlines the entire plot line in the first chapter or few minutes and the outcome is predictable. This movie took it’s time. We discovered more about each character with every scene, coming to like or dislike them as the movie’s plot progressed.

I also saw Les Miserables this weekend. It was long, the singing wasn’t great but the cinematography was stunning. It added depth and meaning to many of the scenes, adding richness that the lack of dialogue couldn’t quite capture.

It was a movie-full weekend (I had the flu yesterday so spent a lot more t.v. time than usual resting on the couch.) I also watched The Lucky One with Zac Efron about a soldier who finds a photograph during a battle. The photograph represents an angel and a mystery. This movie was charming, too, not an award winner but if you like romantic dramas, well worth the time. This movie surprised me with it’s gentle unfolding of story also. As the main characters got to know each other, we learned more of their past and the events that ultimately brought them together.

I realized that life is like that, relationships are like that. As we get to know each other, our stories unfold, details come to the foreground and we are able to sink deeper into knowing each other. When you are beginning to write and to build relationships with your readers, practice allowing your story to unfold.

You don’t need to share everything with them all at once. Remember your goal is to invite readers in, not to just talk about yourself. Spend time sharing pieces of your stories with your readers. Stories are so important! If you want to continue to attract and engage with your readers, share your stories with them: favorite moments, important events, family photos go a long way in making you more human and more attractive to potential clients who are looking for what you offer.

In this virtual world, people are hungry for stories that help them to feel connected to each other. I think that’s one reason why blogging has become so popular, it’s a powerful platform for sharing our stories. I could talk for hours about the significance of story historically and how it was used to record history, share information and celebrate events but I think you get it : think Joseph Campbell, Lord of the Rings, the Bible, creation stories, cave painting and court . Why do we love Downtown Abbey so much? The gentle unfolding of the story of their extraordinary lives feeds the human need for story.

How do you share your story? Whether you are writing for your business or just a personal blog, how do you invite people in with story? I would love for you to share your comments here.

At one point, one of the characters ask Judi Dench what she likes about India. Her reply, “The light, the colors and the smiles.” A simple line isn’t it, but an apt description of what she was seeing and us through her in the movie. Are you capturing that kind of feeling in your writing?

And if you want more great writing tips for you business, make sure to check out my 10-week workshop with Kate Frank: From Content to Cash – Transform Your Copy into a Client Magnet.