10 Important Things To Remember About Storytelling For Business

'The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.' - Muriel Rukeyser

Storytelling in business is more important than ever.  In a world that is flooded with information, the best way to get your customers' attention is to get them to care. 

If you create empathy by telling a story where readers think 'that could happen to me' or 'I know exactly what that feels like', you have a better chance of making a success of your business.

As I wrote in 7 Points You Need To Write A Story For Your Business, 'People forget statistics and names and events, but they never forget stories. A story is the only way we can activate the parts of the brain that get listeners to relate to us.'

10 Important Things To Remember About Storytelling For Business

  1. Stories engage our audience's imagination.
  2. Stories go beyond the boring facts and theories of business.
  3. Stories reveal something about ourselves. Our customers like to see the person behind the brand.
  4. Stories trigger emotions and the senses of our readers.
  5. Stories are conversational – they stimulate others to react and tell us their stories in return.
  6. Stories provide hooks for readers. They give our audience a point of reference - a place where our relationship begins.
  7. Stories are relatable. We like to think 'That could have been me.' or 'What would I do if that happened to me?'
  8. Stories grab the attention of readers. 
  9. Stories are memorable. We forget figures but we remember how a good story made us feel for years.
  10. Stories illustrate our points in ways that are more convincing than other types of information.

P.S. Blogging for business is essential and storytelling is an important element in blogging. Include anecdotes and examples when you write for an audience.

Source for illustration

If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme. If you want to learn how to blog and write for social media, join us for  The Complete Blogging and Social Media Course. Please send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for details.

     by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Pinterest,  Facebook,  Tumblr,  Google+,  LinkedIn, and  Twitter.

     If you enjoyed this article, read these posts:
    1. 27 Blogging Tips To Grow Your Business
    2. 5 Fool Proof Ways To Write Better Emails
    3. The Amazingly Simple Anatomy Of A Meaningful Marketing Story
    4. The 7 Points You Need To Build A Story For Your Business


    Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

    April Writing Prompts

    Remember that you can send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za with the words DAILY PROMPT in the subject line. We will add you to the mailing list and you will receive a daily prompt.   

    If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. Please email news@writerswrite.co.za for more details.

     by Mia Botha

    If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

    1. Don't Ever Do This When You Write For Children
    2. How To Create Headlines That Make Your Readers Happy
    3. Your Book Is A Business – You Need To Invest In It
    4. How To Use Writing Prompts


      Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

      The 9 Best Apps And Tools To Help Writers Boost Productivity

      Guest Post

      Reaching the ultimate point of productivity is a concern of every writer. Regardless of the efficiency you have at a certain point of your career, you inevitably notice a decline in your motivation and ability to write at one point or another. Among all apps and tools available today, these can help you the most:

      Apps That Facilitate A Writer’s Work

      1. Evernote is a tool you’ve probably heard of. If you learn how to use it, it will help you do your work at any time. Consider this app as your idea book, where you jot down ideas and thoughts anywhere. The main difference is in the ease of usage. In addition, the app synchronises the data with your account in the cloud, so you can access it at any time. Waiting in line won’t make you nervous anymore; simply get your phone and note what inspires you.
      2. As a writer, you must care about grammar and vocabulary. Don’t stop working on your progress. Grammarly is a great tool that will save you from embarrassment. It identifies and corrects up to 10 times more errors than the grammar and spelling feature of your usual word processor.

      Tools That Boost A Writer's Focus

      1. When you have an important project to work on, social media platforms are more alluring than ever. Don’t fall into that trap; use a tool that will block the distracting pages. Anti-Social is an awesome tool that helps Mac users work in a safe online environment, without access to social media like Twitter and Facebook, as well as all other websites they specify.
      2. Now let’s get to the real writing tool: use OmmWriter if you want to be able to ignore every possible distraction you could think of. As soon as you launch OmmWriter, you will be teleported into a focused environment that will make you a more productive writer.
      3. Here is another app that will enable you to focus on the task at hand: TeamViz – a timer that works in accordance with the Pomodoro technique. There is a free app that you can use called Pomodone. This method is based on the principle that you’ll work better if you make short, frequent breaks in between writing sessions.

      Ultimate Efficiency Boosters for Writers

      1. When you are limited with deadlines, it is extremely important how you manage your time. Try Write or Die 2 – an app that creates a stressful situation for writers. Yes, stress can be a positive thing, especially when it pushes you to write more content in less time. If you don’t meet the goal you set when using this platform, you’ll face some consequences, depending on the mode you choose.
      2. Of course, you also need to type like a maniac if you want to follow the fast progress of your thoughts. 10FastFingers is a tool that will improve your typing skills with awesome games. You can try different typing tests that will show you how accurately and quickly you type.
      3. How about another test for your ego? A little criticism will help you improve serious flaws in your work. AutoCrit is an automated manuscript editing tool that will warn you about excessive use of passive voice and adverbs, as well as repetitive diction.

      Now that you are aware of the most efficient apps and tools you need, start experimenting with them and you’ll boost your productivity in no time.      

      If you want to learn how to blog and write for social media, join our blogging and social media course in Johannesburg. Email  news@writerswrite.co.za  for more details.

       by Melinda Osteen - professional blogger and an editor, who features the latest writing trends in her articles, intending to share valuable experience and knowledge with young specialists.


      Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

      3 Nagging Grammar Questions Answered

      1. Capitalising the name of a degree

      Have you ever wondered when to capitalise the name of an academic degree? Here are two guidelines:

      a.) For general usage, don’t capitalise the degree. 

      Example: She received her bachelor’s degree in English. 
      The words ‘bachelor’s degree’ aren’t capitalised. ‘English’ is capitalised, because it’s a proper noun – the name of a language.

      b) When:
      • abbreviating a degree,
      • writing the formal name of a degree,
      • or when the name of the degree is part of a person’s official title, capitalise it. 
      Example 1: I’m starting my BCom next year. 
      Example 2: Her degree in Bachelor of Arts Visual Studies was well deserved.
      Example 3: Our guest speaker for the Legal-Eyes conference is Dr Bryan Vernum, PhD Procedural Law.

      2. Do you use ‘shall’ or ‘will’? 

      Whenever I say ‘I will’ instead of ‘I shall’, I get a nervous tic, probably instilled in me by my high school English teacher. In an attempt to put my nagging grammar guilt to rest once and for all, I looked at what Oxford Dictionaries has to say about the matter:

      ‘The traditional rule in standard British English is that shall is used with first person pronouns (i.e. I and we) to form the future tense, while will is used with second and third person forms (i.e. you, he, she, it, they). For example:
      • I shall be late.
      • They will not have enough food.
      However, when it comes to expressing a strong determination to do something, the roles are reversed: will is used with the first person, and shall with the second and third. For example:
      • I will not tolerate such behaviour.
      • You shall go to the ball!
      In practice, though, the two words are used more or less interchangeably, and this is now an acceptable part of standard British and US English.’

      3. Do you use double or single quotation marks/inverted commas?

      Single quotation marks look like ‘this’. Double quotation marks look like “this”. There is no rule that dictates whether you should use single or double quotation marks. However, British English tends to favour single quotation marks (‘x’), while US English tends to favour double quotation marks (“x”). There are two rules you’ll need to observe, though:

      a.) Whatever you use, use it consistently throughout your writing. 

      b.) When you enclose a separate quotation inside your quoted speech, use the opposite style to what you’ve already used. 
      • Alex said, ‘I believe that “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”, to quote Martin Luther King.’
      • Magdalene said, “C.S. Lewis wrote, ‘Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point,’ and I think he lived a life that proved this.”
      Good luck!  

      If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme.

      [Editor's note: Please note that we use UK English at Writers Write. Some rules may differ if you use American English. Usage may also depend on the style guide you use. We suggest you read What Is A Style Guide And Why Do I Need One?]

       by Donna Radley

      If you enjoyed this post, you will like:


      Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

      Six Questions To Ask Before You Even Start Your First Draft

      Last week I wrote about first drafts versus second drafts, this week I want to discuss six questions that can help you along the way. I mentioned that I wrote my first draft without stopping to fix or rewrite. As the story develops and changes, I figure out where the holes are and what will and will not work. 

      But before I start on my first draft, I try to answer the following questions: 
      1. Identify your protagonist and antagonist. Without these two characters, you will find it hard to get going, because this is where your conflict comes from. And conflict is what we want to read about. Your protagonist has a goal and your antagonist opposes that goal.  
      2. Tell your story in three lines. This is one of the best tests for your idea. Whether you call it a ‘pitch slam’, or an ‘elevator pitch’ this forces you to consider your story. This is something you will rewrite several times, but try to write one before you start. 
      3. Figure out your inciting moment. This is the moment of change for your character. Remember we don’t start with back story. You need to drop your character right in the middle of the action. Your character’s goal often comes from this moment.
      4. Try to identify your first, second and third surprises. About one third into your story you should give your reader a surprise, then the middle should have a bigger surprise and then near the end you should have a big surprise or significant plot point. 
      5. Subplots go here. Besides the two main characters, you’ll have a friend character and a love interest. These characters will help you flesh out your plotline and the lives of your protagonist. 
      6. How does the story end? I need to know where I am going. Some authors believe they shouldn’t know the ending, but I have to know. That doesn’t mean it can’t change. 
      You will be able to answer some of these with ease. Some you haven’t even considered. What this list does is it forces you to think about the whole story. 

      This list is a starting point. It is important to remember that you can change any or all of this as you go along, but it helps to get you going. It gives you direction, it gives your protagonist a goal and it helps you to find your antagonist, etc. I’ll discuss these more in detail in the coming weeks. 

      If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg.

       by Mia Botha

      If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

      1. How To Turn Your Messy First Draft Into Something That Resembles A Novel
      2. Music In Writing: Part One – Pacing
      3. Music In Writing: Part Two - Memories


        Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

        The Top 10 Writing Posts for March 2015

        These were the new Writers Write posts you enjoyed most in March 2015:

        1. 17 Of The Most Powerful Excerpts From Poetry
        2. 37 Ways To Write About Anger
        3. Word Counts - How long should your novel be?
        4. The Five Best Online Tools to Help You Outline Your Novel
        5. 10 Remedies For The Horrible Things Writers Tell Themselves
        6. It's Never Too Late To Start Writing - When 27 Famous Authors Were Published
        7. 180 Emotionally Powerful Words To Use In Headlines
        8. 12 Books I Am Planning To Read In 2015
        9. Dr Seuss On Writing
        10. The Four Most Important Things To Remember About Pacing

        Previous Posts


        Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

        Writers Write - Write to communicate

        How Long Should Your Blog Post Be?

        How Long Should Your Blog Post Be?

        This is a question I have asked and people have asked me when I teach The Social Brand. I have Googled it and Googled it again. The answers are wide and varied. 

        The most definitive answers are outdated, because Google changes their algorithms 500-600 times a year. Some changes are minor and some are game changers.

        One of the biggest changes was when content trumped SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). Changing the algorithms meant that SEO was no longer the most important consideration. You need frequently-updated, good-quality, original content to rank higher. 

        Your SERP (Search Engine Results Page) is influenced by these algorithms. Previously all you had to do was ensure that your tags were well done and then you were fine. Now, content trumps the tags, but how much content?

        In some of the articles, 250 words is considered too short, but again and again the experts state that content trumps word count. Seth Godin is brilliant at short posts - 200 words is a long post for him. 

        I decided to look at the lengths of articles that our readers enjoyed. Below is a table of our Writers Write Top 42 posts for 2014. I have included the word count and the number of views in 2014. 




        Word Count


        45 ways to avoid using the word 'very'




        Cheat Sheets for Writing Body Language




         Eight Commonly Misused Words




         The Five Elements of a Story




         Persuasive Writing - Emotional vs Intellectual Words




        15 Questions Authors Should Ask Characters




        The Locked Room – A simple way to test your plot




        Five Incredibly Simple Ways to Help Writers Show and Not Tell




        The Importance of Inciting Moments




        50 Lyric Titles As Writing Prompts




        The 12 Question Fiction Writing Conflict Test




        The Six Defining Characteristics of Strong Female Protagonists




        10 Things Successful Authors Do




        Universal Needs - Creating Characters




        How to write a one-page synopsis




        An Editing Checklist For Writers




        10 Short Story Competitions To Enter Before The End Of 2014


        List of links


        What does it take to write a book? The five qualities published authors share




        Know Your Dashes




        Confessions of a Serial Killer- How to kill characters when you write




        Character Questionnaire - How well do you know your hero?




        10 (Amazingly Simple) Tips to Get You Back on The Writing Track




        Which one of these is your favourite writing position?




        The Top 42 Writing Posts of 2013


        List of links


        Psychopath or Sociopath - What's the difference?




        Which famous writer's style is most like your own?




        How the five senses make stories seem real




        Types of Love - Creating Characters




        The 25 Best Quotes About Authors




        21 Literary Quotes on Beginnings, Middles, and Endings




        Five guaranteed ways to bore your reader




        A Fabulous Resource for Writers - 350 Character Traits




        Punctuation Personality Types - Which one are you?




        10 Things You Didn't Know About JK Rowling




        Seven Extremely Good Reasons to Write the Ending First




        Seven Essential Things to Remember about Very Important Characters




        Why you need strong verbs when you write




        20 words used to describe specific tastes and flavours




        17 Ways To Make your Novel More Memorable




        Writing About Characters With Phobias




        How to make your characters shockingly real




        Examples of Character Archetypes



        It is interesting to note that many of our top posts are infographics. (It is important to remember that these were once articles made up of words.) This tells you what kind of information readers are looking for. 

        The posts that aren’t infographics average around 500 words. Not one of our popular posts is over 1000 words. I prefer short posts. Most people start waffling or repeating information if they write too much. 

        Eight Tips For Writing Posts People Read
        1. Content is king. Find and identify topics that interest you. 
        2. Simplify the content as much as possible. Use a visual form if you can. This site - Piktochart - allows you to create your own infographics. 
        3. Use one topic per post. If you need to write more, rather write a series instead of making your post too long.
        4. Pack a punch with your writing. Use strong nouns and verbs. 
        5. Cut the flab: reduce modifiers, qualifiers, adverbs, and adjectives. 
        6. Use the inverted pyramid of media writing. We have a short attention span especially on the internet or in fiction speak: Don’t start with backstory.
        7. Read and follow as many successful blogs as you can. Take a look at their best posts and try to identify what worked. 
        8. Make sure to tag keywords in your posts for SEO, but focus on as much new, good quality content as possible  
          In short, don't focus on the length of your post. Focus on the quality of your content, that is until Google makes another change. 

          Happy blogging.

          If you want to learn how to write for social media or how to write a book, email news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

           by Mia Botha

          If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

          1. Social Media Chill Pill - 15 Top Tips For Writers On Social Media
          2. Dealing with deadlines - Five tips to keep you on track
          3. A Writer's Friends - how to build an author platform


            Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

            While You Were Reading - 3 Tips For Aspiring Writers

            While you were reading

            W.H. Auden said, ‘A real book is not one that we read, but one that reads us.’ 

            Today, this is truer than ever. According to a BuzzFeed News article by Joseph Bernstein, every e-reader or reading-app maker gathers data about its users’ reading behaviour. It can tell which books you buy but don’t read, which books you finish, and how fast you read them. While you’re reading your Kindle, it’s reading you. 

            Behind the scenes

            Canadian e-reader company, Kobo, made its data public in 2014. It provides keen insight into what happens behind the scenes. Did you know that more than half of Canadian and British Kobo readers didn’t finish Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch in 2014? Another interesting fact is that the industry standard finish rate for mystery books is 62%. 

            Guilty as charged

            This got me thinking about the books I’ve never finished. It’s not that they were bad books. My reasons for putting them down are varied. If I have to sum it up in one sentiment, though, it would be that they didn’t hit my sweet spot. 


            In tennis, you won’t know if you’re hitting the ball well until after you’ve hit it and heard the characteristic ‘thwack-twang’ of it bouncing off your racket’s sweet spot. In the same way, authors won’t know whether they’ve hit the sweet spot of their intended readership until after the book is written. It’s an occupational hazard. Aspiring authors needn’t despair, though. What’s true for tennis is true for writing. The more you practise, the better you’ll be. 

            These 3 tips may help you:   

            1. Don’t just write. Rewrite: this is obvious, but important enough to say again. Not only does rewriting give you the opportunity to practise your writing craft, it also helps you to spot the cheesy, boring, or clichéd parts. It helps your sentences sing. Thwack-twang.
            2. Study the greats … and the not-so greats: when you read a book, try to quantify why you found it to be a good or bad read. A practical way of doing this is writing a 200-word book review for each book when you’re done. The limited word count will force you to isolate what the dealmakers and deal-breakers were. You can then apply this to your writing.
            3. Trust your instincts: if something in your manuscript doesn’t ‘sit right’, don’t ignore it. If there’s something I’ve learnt in my writing escapades, it’s to trust my instincts about the niggling parts. If they bother me, they’ll bother my readers. 

            Happy writing. 

            If you want to learn how to write a book send an email to  news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

            Source for image

               by Donna Radley

              If you enjoyed this post, you will like:


              Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

              3 Essential Editing Tips For Writers

              Three Tips To Cache Those Typos

              You saw it, didn’t you? Even if spell check didn't. You can't ignore that single, pesky mistake. It bothers us. What bothers us even more is that we tend to spot others’ mistakes more quickly than we spot our own. Why is this?

              The science behind it

              Nick Stockton’s article for Wired explains it. When you’re doing a high level task like writing an article, your brain generalises the simpler components of what you’re doing (like turning letters into words). This frees up ‘brain processing capacity’ for the more complex components of the task (like conveying a complex idea). 

              Editing on autopilot

              It’s this same generalisation that makes it difficult to recall your drive to work this morning. When you drive the same route every day, your brain engages its autopilot, freeing itself up to think about other things. This is bad news for editing your own work. Your brain is already familiar with the words, so it tunes out the details.   

              Three editing tips

              You’re no doubt writing because you feel you have something valuable to say, and want to be read. These editing tips will help your readers focus on your message and not your mistakes:

              1. Make it unfamiliar: Tom Stafford, lecturer in psychology and cognitive science at University of Sheffield, says it’s possible to trick your brain. When you make your work as unfamiliar as possible, your brain thinks it’s seeing it for the first time, and pays closer attention. Try changing the font or background colour. Alternatively, print it out and edit by hand. 
              2. Train your brain: it’s all too easy to look up a grammar rule in the moment, apply it, and then move on without internalising the rule. Don’t move on. Draw up your own style guide. Explain a grammar rule to a colleague. Draw up that list of UK and US spelling. Do what you need to do to internalise the rules. 
              3. Ask the experts: there is always someone smarter than you. This is a good thing. Learn from them, buy their reference books, and subscribe to their blogs. 

              All the best for ‘caching’ those typos. 

              If you want to learn how to write a book send an email to  news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

               by Donna Radley

              If you enjoyed this post, you will like:


              Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

              The Four Most Important Things To Remember About Pacing

              1. What is pacing?

              Pacing is all about the manipulation of time and controlling the speed and rhythm of a story. The elements of pacing can be broken down into various structural devices that are used to control the speed of a story.

              These include:

              1. Scene
              2. Sequel
              3. Dialogue
              4. Reflection
              5. Word choice
              6. Sentence structure
              7. Suspense
              8. Cliff-hangers
              9. Scene lengths
              10. Chapter lengths

              Most beginners overwrite and this influences pacing. We all end up padding our first stories with too much description. We tend to summarise long parts of the story and repeat sections. This is mainly because we do not have a good enough plot.

              2. How do I know if pacing is a problem?

              Mechanically, this exercise is an excellent way to check on overall pacing problems.

              1. Read your work out loud – and that means every single word. If your voice trips over a word or phrase –delete it or revise it. 
              2. Circle every 'is', 'was', 'are', and 'were'. Unless you are using the verb 'to be' replace them with strong verbs. 
              3. Delete adverbs. 
              4. Delete most adjectives.
              5. Ensure that more than 50% of your book consists of dialogue.

              If you do not have many words left after you have done this, you need to work on your plot. You need to plan 60 relevant scenes that will get your book from the beginning through the middle to the end. If you still cannot do this, you may not have a novel. You may have a short story or a personal essay.

              3. How do I change pace?

              Pacing differs with the needs of a story. A fantasy epic can be written at a leisurely pace, with action scenes and important events highlighting and speeding up the story. A short story is usually three scenes, two of those are action, and one is reflection. A crime novel must be written at a fast pace that is action-packed and full of drama, with shorter scenes that deliver moments of reflection and respite.

              You need to increase pace in action scenes and slow down your pace in reflective scenes (sequels). Understanding scene and sequel and their structure is crucial to perfecting pacing. We refer to scenes as action mode and sequels as summary mode. You need to ‘show’ most of the time when you write, but you need to highlight ‘showing’ in scenes. Sequels are the time for ‘telling’. 

              Tip: You should work towards having 75% of your novel in action scenes and 25% in reflective scenes.

              4. What are the mechanics of pacing?

              Seven ways to increase pace:

              1. Keep most of your sentences short.
              2. Stay in the active voice.
              3. Use fragments.
              4. Take out adverbs.
              5. Do not use unnecessary adjectives.
              6. Try to use the best nouns and the strongest verbs.
              7. Use lots of relevant dialogue.

              Six ways to slow down:

              1. Offer more setting details, but do not induce a coma with this.
              2. Make your sentences longer.
              3. Use the passive voice.
              4. Use some adjectives.
              5. Always remember that a tiny pinch of adverb goes a very long way.
              6. Include more internal reflection by the viewpoint character, along with the dialogue.

              To perfect your pacing you will have to work on all 10 of the structural devices I mentioned at the beginning of the post. I hope that the mechanics I have mentioned here will help you start to fix the structure.

              If you want to learn how to write a book send an email to  news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

               by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Facebook,  Tumblr,  Pinterest,  Google+,  LinkedIn,  and on Twitter:  @amandaonwriting

              © Amanda Patterson

              If you enjoyed this post, read:


              Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate