Sara Schmuck is the Managing Editor of Client Publications for Ellenbecker Communications.
I read about Pixar story artist Emma Coats’ series of tweets on “story basics”—things she has learned about creating appealing stories. Here are some of her tips that, believe it or not, hold true for our magazine articles and press releases as much as they do for Toy Story and Finding Nemo:
• Keep in mind what is interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.
• Trying for a theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
• Once upon a time there was___. Every day, ___. One day___. Because of that, ___. Until finally___.
• Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
• You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best and fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
• What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.
Much of our work is about telling stories. We may not write about feisty septuagenarians flying in their homes lifted by balloons, but we tell the tales of our clients. And we try hard to get it right. Most of the time, we do.