3 Tips to Write Engaging Stories

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Have you ever read that one story that just connected with you a way like no other? That story that you just can’t put down. You eat with it, walk with it, take it to work with you. It’s a great feeling isn’t it. It’s like the ‘reader’s high’ that we’re forever chasing as we scurry between the aisles of a bookshop looking for our next fix. But just as we fall in love with some stories, we don’t like every story we read. Some stories just don’t click, no matter how many times we try. There’s something missing.

Every genre has a target audience; dedicated fans that will return time and time again because they simply love the genre. It’s a diverse world out there, and that’s a great thing! It means an audience can be found for almost any type of story you can think of. So having said that, not every reader will like your story. However, there are things you can do as a writer to engage more deeply with your target audience. To build your chances of injecting your story with the I-just-can’t-put-it-down factor. Today, we’ll take a look at what you can do this week to craft a story that connects with its audience.

Make it personal
One of the main reasons we connect with a story is because it resonates with us on a personal level. We can relate in some way to the characters and their struggles. The more personal our problems are, the more universal they will be. We’re likely to keep our most personal truths to ourselves, but I challenge you this week to get them down on paper. It’s these private concerns that we all have in common. The more personal you can make your story, the more likely it is to engage your audience.

It almost go against our instincts. We often feel we should keep our personal stories and details just that; personal. It’s easy to belief that these things are unique to us and will be difficult to understand for anyone else. But I often find it’s quite the opposite. The personal struggles are in fact shared by many. So this week, lay it all bare!

Keep a journal / notebook
I include this at great risk of repeating myself, but I believe your journal can be one of the most powerful tools at your disposal as a writer. French poet and novelist Victor Hugo carried a notebook everywhere he went. As quoted in Daily Rituals: How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration and Get to Work, one his children remark, “As soon as he has uttered the slightest ideas … he turns away, takes out his notebook and takes down what he has just said. Nothing is lost. Everything ends up in print.”

By recording your daily thoughts and conversations, you’ll have a wealth of personal information to draw upon. As they’re drawn from your day-to-day life, these thoughts and conversations are likely to inject the level of realism needed to truly engage your reader.

Write what you care about
This is similar to the old advice write what you know, but there’s a limit to what we know. Our passions, however, can be limitless. When we write about something we truly care about, it comes through to the reader. Our passion is right there on the page in our words and in our tone. So this week, ask yourself what really matters to you. What gets you excited? What makes your feel alive? Chances are, it makes many other people feel that way too!

Writing engaging stories is a goal we’re forever reaching for, but with these tips, hopefully you’ll be a little closer to righting that story that they just can’t put down!

Peter Turley god of the word

Peter Turley
Host

About the author

Peter Turley is a writer, editor, podcaster, education, and training professional and academic from the North West of England, UK.

His love for the written word began with reading and writing fantasy fiction before moving into the world of non-fiction writing self-improvement articles back in 2010.

In 2018 Peter graduated with an Honours degree in Creative Writing and English Literature and progressed onto an MA in Creative Writing, graduating in 2019.

Although an experienced editor of fiction, over the course of his studies his lifelong fondness for poetry grew into his preferred medium driven by his desire for linguistic clarity and self-expression.
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In late 2018, he was honoured to represent his university in reading a collaborated piece at the London Camarade event which was subsequently published in the Leeds Human Rights Journal exploring the theme ‘Borders’.

In 2020 Peter was accepted onto a Doctorate programme and will commence his PhD in Creative Writing in January 2021.

When he’s not busy working in education and training, reading, writing, editing and studying, you can find him…well, those pursuits pretty much take up all of his time, but you can find him here at the Book Editor Show.

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