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How to create a simple story about anything.

People are often surprised when I tell them storytelling is a skill they can learn.

I’ve been writing and telling stories for years, but I’m still spending this week at a retreat, learning more about this craft of writing and telling stories. There is always more to learn. Thankfully, it doesn’t take much to get started.

Here’s how to create a simple story about just about anything.

Two weeks ago, I released a new podcast episode and wrote a quick email to tell you about it. My original draft went something like this:

The latest episode of the Life and Mission Podcast is out!
This week, the tables are turned as fundraising expert Mary Valloni interviews me. That’s right–I’m the one answering questions in this one.

Then I thought about how I’m always telling you that you need to tell stories. Seems like I should follow my own advice, no?

Here’s how I turned that announcement email into a story.

First, I used a simple story structure:

  • A character,
  • with a problem that needs to be solved,
  • takes action,
  • faces a crisis,
  • and changes as a result of the adventure.

You can find the story email here. See the structure?

The other thing I did was to use phrases that signal story and hold the reader’s attention:

  • Hook (grabs attention): “Have you ever…? That’s exactly what happened to me, and it changed my life.”
  • Emotion (as fear spoke to me): “I’d never be asked to speak again.”
  • The turning point: “But then, something amazing happened.”
  • Invitation: Not only did I share the life-changing lesson I learned, but I also invited you to see yourself in the story to learn the same lesson. “I’ll bet there’s something you could…”
  • Call to Action: “Go be you. Share what you know.”

Could your next email turn into a story?

Try it out, and let me know the response you get.

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