4 Ways To Make A Story Come Alive

Laurel Dykema

Laurel Dykema

Guest blogger extraordinaire Laurel Dykema is back with us to share how you can change up your storytelling technique. ~Kivi

Guest Post by Laurel Dykema of Mission India

As nonprofit writers, we share stories about real people … their struggles, victories, and joys.

But if you’re like me, sometimes the words you use to tell an amazing story can feel a little flat. Maybe it’s because you write so many stories that they all start to sound the same to you after a while. (I write upwards of 200 stories a year for my nonprofit, so I understand!)

Feeling stuck in that rut? Pick something from the list below to change up the way you’re sharing the story … and breathe new life into it!

Here are 4 ways you can make a story come alive:

  1. Tell it in first person.

If you can, interview the person whose story you’ll be telling … and have them say it in their own words. Prompt them with questions as needed to fill in details. This type of storytelling (coming from the person’s own lips) can be very powerful.

  1. Turn it into a video.

While you’re at it, why not turn your interview into a quick video? Video testimonials are great to share on your website, Facebook page, and email newsletter! Don’t have a videographer on staff? Check out a free resource like Animoto  that can turn even a simple set of photos, text, and royalty-free music into a 30-second video for free!

  1. Use your senses.

Describe the sight, smell, sound, touch, or taste of some elements of your story. For example, if I was telling a story about Ramita, a woman who lives next to the train tracks in India, I might write:

  • The thin, weather-beaten blue tarp covering Ramita’s home couldn’t keep the rain out during storms. (sight)
  • Thick smoke pours from smokestacks as trains roll past near Ramita’s home. But after 9 years of living next to the train tracks, Ramita is used to the stench. (smell)
  • The chugging sounds and screeching whistle of the first train of the day wakes her early each morning. (sound)
  • Lukewarm raindrops landed on Ramita’s cheek, blending with her hot tears. (touch)
  • Ramita lifted a cup of steaming masala to her lips, the familiar spiced, creamy tea sliding down her throat. (taste)
  1. Make a “storybook” using lots of photos.

Have lots of great pictures? Make use of them! Think of how you could use the best photos to help make that person’s story come to life on your blog or website. (At Mission India, we even created a small book that shared the story of a church planting partner. The storybook featured a few short paragraphs and large photos on every page spread.)

Laurel Dykema joined Mission India in 2010 and currently serves as the staff writer and social media guru. She enjoys Boggle, a well-turned phrase, and a good cup of masala tea.

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