Using Story Telling Techniques to Improve Blog Posts
I find it amazing that because blogging is a fairly new medium, some people feel the need to reinvent the wheel. The simple fact is, blogging is just writing, so what works for one method of writing, will work for blogging. But lets go one step beyond that. Writing itself is just one facet of communication, so why can’t we apply some tried and tested rules of communication to a blog? And if we were to do this, what type of conversation should we choose?
We want something that’s progressive, finely tuned, popular and entertaining. So why not go for movies? Yes, why not base the structure of a blog post on a movie? Just think about it for a second. Movies are structured, scripted and convey a story. They also have deliberate sections. So what can we take from movies and use ourselves? Well, I think that depends on what type of post you’re writing. And for each type of post, there’s a type of movie to match. This is my attempt to match movie type, to blog post type. Stick with me on this one, I swear it makes sense!
Love Films – Any good love film has at least three main aspects. The lead characters, a situation and a relationship. So what type of blog post can you match to this type of movie? How about a bog standard review. You and the product are the lead characters, the situation is your experience of using the product and your relationship with the product is that you’re documenting. Some of the things you can take from this type of movie? Well, how about the tease? Love films tend to tease you along, giving sneak peaks into the relationship along the way. There are also points of conflict, and points of resolution. Just remember, at the end of the day it’s all about the relationship. People want to read your opinion of the product, how you work with the product, what you like and what you don’t. Also remember that not all love stories have a happy ending.
Action Films – Action films are a mainstay of cinema, and have been since the phrase “Jean-Claude Sly Schwarzenegger” was invented. Typically, an action movie appeals to a certain demographic, consists of a number of set pieces and keeps the adrenalin level high. To me, this sounds like a list. You have a series of set pieces, each getting bigger and better. Lists are targeted at a very specific audience and due to their easily consumable nature, keep the reader’s interest. A few things you will want to take away from Action movies, keep the same theme. Action movies very rarely mess with the formular, so of you’re writing a list, keep all the points on topic. You also need to make sure your points are set pieces in their own right. Think of your favourite action scene, it will have an immediate issue, lots of action and a quick conclusion. The film will then move on to the next set piece. You can tell the hero is getting nearer their target, but most of the set pieces are inconsequential. i.e. there’s no need for a fancy conclusion, hit the list, get the points across, resolve, move on the the next one!
Chase Films – A chase makes for agreat mechanism in a movie. They often serve as a way of visually representing something in the plot. Beyond normal chase scenes, you occasionally get entire movies consisting of chase scenes. They may not be physical chases, like two cars racing down a street, but they do exist. The whole point of a chase is this, there is a character who wants to get somewhere or to someone. We all know right from the outset that they want to get there, and we know that they probably will. The story becomes entirely about how they reach that point. Does this sound like a type of blog post to you? Well to me, it sounds like an instructional post. Your visitor has somewhere they want to go (something they want to achieve), and are consulting the story of how you get there previously. Much like action films, there are usually set pieces dotted along the way, but they tend to be structured differently, and there’s always a sense of progression. There is also a sense of rhythm and flow to the piece and the hero tends to learn as they go along. The rhythm is dictated by the number of set pieces (or steps) and their relative size. They should be self-contained, while still relying on the previous to progress. They may use different methods, but maintain the same theme and focus. But most importantly, for the story to hold together the hero has to reach their destination and it must be clear to the audience that the preceding steps were required to get there. This is something you should apply to your How To Tips, make each step clear, concise and valuable. Make sure everything that’s there is required to reach the outcome, because that’s what people want. To look back at a step and see that it directly impacted their ability to reach the destination.
Drama Films – Everyone hates drama films, well, maybe not everyone but a lot of people. Don’t let that put you off, there are some great ideas thrown in there. Drama films are about one thing, and one thing only, conflict. While this conflict tends to be more emotional than say, in an action film, it’s still there. Drama films are all about how this conflict is dealt with, and usually involves some sort of revelation or epiphany. Personally, I think this sounds like the experience on blogging as opposed to an individual post. There will be ups and there will be downs. The success of the blog depends entirely on the strength of character of the author(s). Also consider this, is most dramas the turning point, the epiphany, tends to come after a particularly low moment. Next time something bad happens with regards to your blog, put on your drama hat and look for ways you can learn from it and become a better blogger.
I think this post is a bit “out there” as far as writing tips go. Really, the point I’m trying to get across is, when you’re reading a book, watching a film or interacting with some other form of established media, analyse it. What does it do well? What aspects can you take and use in your own writing? Think about the way plots are unveiled, twists introduced and especially the way you are dragged into the story throughout.
For some more tips on writing excellent content, have a look at Copy Blogger, which is a daily read for me. or if you’re searching for the right content to fill your own blog, have a look at Scientifically Identifying Content that’s Perfect for your Blog and then look at Creating a more Professional Blog in a week.