Let's Not Forget about Storytelling in Blogs

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When I first started this blog five years ago, I imagined that I would blog a lot more about storytelling and blogging than I turned out to do. I don’t see a lot written in the blogosphere about storytelling in blogs.

I know that when I sometimes tell stories about my own life in this space, I feel self-indulgent and as though I am foisting something trivial and uninteresting on readers. Yet, those life-story entries are often the ones that get the most response from readers.

storytelling_here-264x300.jpg Last week, Kimberly Turner offered a good reminder of the value of storytelling in blogs. Using Regator (a site “designed to help you find quality blog posts … by using highly selective human editors to find well-written, topical blogs on more than 500 topics then a combination of semantic algorithms and user interaction to find the most interesting, timely, and noteworthy posts from those blogs”), Turner identified 10 blog posts (from among blogs on trending topics) representing good storytelling and analyzed the characteristics that resulted in their compelling stories.

“Telling a story in a more narrative form adds emotional impact, suspense, interest, and imagery,” Turner notes. “People communicate in stories every day and, used sparingly and appropriately, they can add a lot to your blog.”

Here are the 10 storytelling posts Turner isolated:

  1. Huffington Post’s My Whole Street Is a Mosque
  2. The Seminal’s On the Luxury of ‘Coming Out’ When You Feel Like It
  3. Devil Ball Golf’s The complete Tiger Woods timeline, from Escalade to divorce
  4. Bors Blog Haircuts in Herat
  5. Ad Age’s How to Almost Sabotage a Dinner Party With Facebook ‘Places’
  6. Jalopnik’s I Sold Everything To Buy A Lamborghini And Drive Across The Country
  7. TV Squad’s Oops! Most Embarrassing Emmys Moments
  8. Journeys to Democracy’s Personal Note: Flood Relief in Remote Kohistan
  9. PopWatch’s Miss Universe: Help me convince myself to watch
  10. Warming Glow’s Oh My God, ‘The Walking Dead’ Trailer Is Amazing

And here are some of the characteristics that make these good storytelling blog posts, in Turner’s opinion:

  • Good stories have enough details to help readers form a visual.
  • Use your own personal experiences and stories to connect with readers on an emotional level but be sure your story ties in with your post’s goal …
  • Stories are essentially a sequence of actions that create a plot.
  • Make your story captivating and interesting…in other words, not something that your readers experience in their everyday lives.
  • Depending on the purpose of your story, it may or may not be necessary to give a great deal of detail about the characters. Keep your focus on what’s relevant.
  • Use quotes and images where appropriate to add detail to a story.
  • Stories don’t have to be long.
  • The best stories have their fair share of suspense.
  • Stories can be used to establish camaraderie with readers rather than to create tension and suspense.
  • Move beyond text to visually tell a story.

2 Comments

My blog is pretty much all story. A little travelogue, on the occasions when I travel. But mostly story. Presently I’m writing serials. Mostly about what’s going on or has gone on in my life. And like you, I have to fight the feeling that I’m being self-indulgent by telling stories. But when I check the stats I see that there are people in places where I personally know no one who log in every day and, on the days when I post, spend time reading. People who do know me and read my blog prod me to hurry up with the next installment. I blog for the same reason I perform — self-expression. The matter of who tunes in and why is of secondary or tertiary consideration to me.

Thanks for this post. I feel a little more legitimate now.

Thanks so much for commenting, Megan. Thanks for reinforcing my notion that blog readers really do enjoy reading the blogger’s personal stories. I, too, sometimes blog for self-expression, but also to share my passion for storytelling. Very happy to know about your blog. Thanks again for sharing.

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A Storied Career explores intersections/synthesis among various forms of
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Kathy Hansen, PhD, is a leading proponent of deploying storytelling for career advancement. She is an author and instructor, in addition to being a career guru. More...

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The following are sections of A Storied Career where I maintain regularly updated running lists of various items of interest to followers of storytelling:

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The pages below relate to learning from my PhD program focusing on a specific storytelling seminar in 2005. These are not updated but still may be of interest:

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