Senior Lecturer at Falmouth University, Anna Kiernan, gives her top five tips for writing great stories in the fast-changing digital landscape.

Storytelling is as old as civilisation itself, but the form it takes is constantly changing. Computers have changed the way we manipulate and interact with words, while the internet has provided us with an infinite amount of inspiration (but maybe with less time to see all of it). With the shape of stories in the digital sphere less tangible, just how can we map our own stories in this constantly shifting landscape?

On the back of her successful workshop earlier this summer, Anna Kiernan is returning to the library next week to tell us about the continuing—and forever evolving—power stories have in our lives and work. Bringing together her knowledge as both a teacher, editor and writer, she’ll go through the tried and tested methods for creating and structuring your own stories, and how to bring them to life in all kinds of different digital contexts and channels.

Ahead of her workshop we asked Anna to tell us her top tips for writing great stories, no matter the context.

Five tips for creating great stories according to Anna Kiernan

Being able to tell a story well lies at the heart of good communications. We all know this to be true but sometimes lack the knack for creating stories that connect. It doesn’t matter how pretty your content is—if it hasn’t got an emotional hook and a compelling character, who cares? The good news is that we’re all natural storytellers—but having a toolbox of skills to draw on to make our messages connect better definitely helps. 

  • Connection. This isn’t just about how many people your story speaks to (analytics), it’s about speaking to the people who matter in terms of community, prominence and influencers. Work towards creating a 360-degree brand story-world and you’ll inspire your audience, so they’ll want to come back.

  • Authenticity. Your language and tone of voice should be consistent with your brand values, ethos and the whole story of your business. The synchronicity of your brand should quietly resonate through every single word like the pattern on a stick of rock.

  • Engagement. In writing, the rule of engagement is to find the story and tell it well. Conversations build trust, so embrace the opportunity to develop a rapport with your customers and peers on social media.

  • Distraction. Pretty much everyone is a millisecond away from being distracted on digital. Use that but not in a clickbaity way. Make meaningful distractions through micro-stories that promote proximity. We care about stories that affect us—geographically and emotionally.

  • Audience. Once you’ve got their attention, the challenge is to hold on to it for long enough to take them on a journey. To do this, you need to know who you’re talking to. Who are they really? Who do you know who’s like them? What fires them up, and what winds them up? And how would you grab that person’s attention? Once you’ve answered these questions, you can think more clearly about wording your message, and the best platform to use.

Joining our Learning Network

Imaginative organisations, large and small, use YCN to build capabilities throughout their teams in modern, motivating and memorable ways.

Our peer-led membership programme is a popular starting point; giving teams open and self-directed access to a weekly calendar of in-person learning, a digital learning platform and a personal relationship with our own connective central team.

Find out more about what we offer in this PDF, or by contacting Nick Defty on nd@ycn.org.