How to write a good story

How to write a good story

When people ask me about my favorite writer I tell them about an eBay Listing for a Subaru. The seller was down on his luck, uneducated and unemployed, his car selling on eBay to make mortgage payments on his house. His motorcycle would be his only transportation thereafter. The listing he wrote on eBay remains one of the best pieces of writing I’ve read, beginning with his first sentence, “… I bought this car brand new in Oct. 2002, and have driven it carefully, though sometimes quickly, ever since.” His story goes on like a memoir about a lost lover from times gone by: “I’ve driven this thing through absolutely ridiculous amounts of snow, no problem. Snow to the headlights? Plow it with the front bumper. Plowed into a parking space? Select reverse, engage clutch. Road covered with wet leaves? Drive as if it’s a sunny, dry day …. For a while there, it was doing the work of a pickup truck, and on several occasions got me out of spots from which big 4WD pickups were failing to extract themselves. Seriously, I once got up a hill that a plow truck couldn’t get up.”

Good writing is rare. Humorous writing rarer. If you’re not funny, nostalgia goes far with readers and will make up for lack of experience or talent. Remember, facts are boring and good story telling has nothing to do with a college degree. The best stories are ones that provide facts riddled with contextual heart-felt stories that support an argument.

When new bloggers approach me with the question of what it takes to write a good story, I send them the below template:

  • INTRODUCTION
    The first is the introduction, in which you introduce YOUR ARGUMENT while capturing the reader’s interest. The introduction should always include a FUNNY, NOSTALGIC or CONTROVERSIAL anecdote preceding your stated argument that concludes this introduction: “Some people think …. but they are wrong because ….”
  • BODY
    The second is the body of the article, which supports your argument with at least 3 FACTS that are linked to other pages on the Internet. (You will need to provide these URLs in parenthesis). Your facts can be based on scientific studies, a story that happened to you or someone else, or on some expert opinion offered (include a URL) by somebody. The body of the article should be interesting and told in a logical manner. This is where you’ll often see quotes.
  • CONCLUSION
    The last act of your feature is the conclusion, in which you pull everything together. The last line of your article should be something clever and concise.

3 Comments

  1. R Wright

    You are a fair writer, yourself … But a good story teller!

    • Richard Aaron Wright

      Not cool … “R Wright” …. But you have a good name!

  2. I found the below extract from at http://www.lirvin.net/WGuides/argue.htm which details another trick for writing more persuasive blogs by using the point/counterpoint method:

    To do Point-Counterpoint, the writer first “fairly summarizes” or even partially accepts (concedes) an opponent’s argument. Then the writer REFUTES this argument with an argument of his or her own.

    This technique is effective because with it you communicate to your reader that you understand both sides of the issue. It makes you sound more credible and knowledgeable on the topic and therefore more believable. You also anticipate your reader’s objections and overcome them before he or she has a chance to think them. If your argument was only “one sided” and did not acknowledge or address any opposing arguments to your own, the reader might think about these opposing arguments with a question mark in his or her head. Your reader will be less convinced because he or she will still have those questions in mind.

    Here are some examples of Point-Counterpoint:
    Example 1: Although the space program yields important scientific discoveries, the cost in dollars and diverted resources does not make these discoveries worth the high price.

    Example 2: Some argue that the space program costs too much, saying that the price for scientific discoveries made by the program are too high. However, the worth of many of these discoveries does not always come in the form of immediate monetary return. What price can we put on learning how to save the ozone layer?

    Example 3: (from the TV violence topic)
    Some believe that the current warning messages are enough, but excessive violence is still being shown. The ax-murderers, gangsters, rapists and serial killers still fill the TV screen, and many times parents aren’t home to prevent their children from watching it. The government is needed to get this trash off the screen.

    Notice that the refutations are signaled with transition words like “however,” “but,” or “Although.”

    No single right way exists for addressing opposing views in an argument essay. You may be confused about how to do it, so let me make some suggestions.
    a) You could begin each body paragraph with an opposing view, and then make the contents of that paragraph be the counterpoint to that opposing view.
    b) You could have two of your paragraphs present reasons for your position, and then in the third, summarize an opposing view and counter it.
    c) You also could have a point-counterpoint inside the secondary support of a paragraph.

    REMEMBER that when you do point-counterpoint, you fairly summarize an opposing view and always follow that summary with your counterargument which refutes that opposing view.

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