Always Know Where the Story is Heading
May seem like a pretty basic guideline, but I was a grown-up (having written for years) and was still creating stories by having a minor concept and then pulling out a sheet of paper and hoping the pencil would take over from there. I commonly began stories with virtually no plan where the story would wind up. This may help reveal why so many of my stories never really went anywhere – besides the circular file. One additional side effect – it often required far too many pages to say what I needed to say. The instant I began to organize my stories upfront, writing got much simpler, and my stories had more force.
PLANNING your story/speech offers the benefits below:
- You will enjoy a laser like focus on your content and aims.
- You zero in on what is vital for your story, and what’s unneeded.
- It is much easier to get started because you know where it’s heading.
- Your story is not cluttered with unneeded information.
- You get the benefit of being able to write your jokes ahead of time, and integrating them into your speech. Your speech will be much funnier.
- It is much easier to commit to memory due to the fact you have layed it out in elements.
- Another good thing about the modular method – it makes it a lot easier to change. The alterations you make affect just a portion of the presentation.
- You are liberated to just write. You know what you’re going to write.
- Concepts that aren’t clear or poorly explained jump out at you.
- Writing your story/speech in blocks helps you cut when necessary.
Don’t fool yourself that your story is too detailed to keep short!
Then take a moment – a snapshot – a scene. And tell that story. I’m guilty of this same assumption myself. I regularly made my stories much to cumbersome to write and recite. Then I decided I would just write about one snapshot – make it short and sweet. And if I wanted to piece them together I could. Perhaps you would like to tell the story of how your grandmother influenced you growing up. You knew your grandmother your whole life and there is a lot you want to say about her and her life and where she grew up, etc. I would recommend that you find one moment (go for the most powerful moment that sticks out in your mind). Maybe it was something she said – or something she did at a time when you really needed her – or the sight of her making biscuits on Sunday mornings. A technique that you might want to try – create an imaginary comic book of your grandmother’s life. Pick out one of those instances. Create that story.
So you’ve got the story nugget, as I like to refer to it – that starting thought that you know would most likely create a good story.
What makes this story appealing?
What is the overall meaning of this story?
Who are you speaking to?
What can someone learn from this story?
Pair the story down to the absolutely necessary – when in doubt, leave it out!
If you are writing a speech, then you start by writing the points you need to make – why are you here, what do you want the audience to take away, how do you want them to feel, what is your overall lesson and the three(or however many points you will make) ways they can make this happen also.
A simple outline of your story will help you incredibly. If it helps, you can ponder your outline for a few days so it will solidify in your mind. Then when you sit down to write, you know how to start, and hopefully how to finish.
Then just write it. Concern yourself with making enhancing it later. The starting point is writing the basic framework of what you want to say. Good luck and happy writing! As an award winning storyteller and motivational speaker, I have many more articles on story openings, closings, details, humor, etc. But for now – just plan it.