The very best storytellers draw you with evocative language and immediate imagery. As pointed out at ‘Spinsucks” in today’s post though…it only starts there. In Three Steps to Business Storytelling, Gini Dietrich breaks down the framework of storytelling into:
Without this basic framework, as we all know, everything from blog posts to e-books begins to resemble a trail of breadcrumbs already half eaten by a flock of pesky sparrows. As homework helper in chief though, I have to say, a dose of middle school English has made me a better writer by not only focusing me on those key points, but also by providing a way to take my writing to the next level.
It’s amazing what a rubric can do to improve your storytelling! While I think, as professionals in the business of writing, we all know how to break down a piece into main idea and supporting points. What we, at least I, don’t always do in any systematic way is review for what makes an essay a story – language!
Excerpted directly from a fifth grade rubric:
Sentence variation: Does the story include a variety of compound sentences, independent clauses, appositive phrases and introductory adverbial and prepositional clauses?
Figurative language: Is there extensive use of similes, metaphors and personifications?
Word choice: Does the story include vivid and lively verbs? Imaginative and unusual adjectives? Too many vague or overused words?
The first time I used this rubric, I must admit, I had to review what exactly some of those words mean . I always get similes and metaphors mixed up; what exactly IS an adverbial clause? But, the process, of course gets easier and admittedly more fun. And an essay becomes a story.
These days, rather than channeling my inner Irish, I draw on my inner English teacher. Though we prefer to believe otherwise…all the best storytellers do.
Maryanne Conlin is CEO of RedRopes Digital and Partner Digital Strategy with 4GreenPs. Though she prefers to believes she has an the Irish gift of gab, she finds finding and following the rules of effective writing probably has something to do with her writing ability.