Storytelling in Web Writing (Why You Need It)

Blue text on a white background reads, "Creative writers know how to tell a story. And if you're writing for the web, you should too."

Think about the last thing you read that immediately pulled you in and made you want to know more.
Was it an opening line in a movie? (“In a galaxy far, far away…”)
Maybe it was a book. (“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”)
No matter what it was, it was probably compelling enough to pull you in. And the rest of the story was probably compelling enough to keep your attention. Creative writers know how to tell a story. And if you’re writing for the web, you should too.
No matter what you are writing online (blogs, website copy, social media posts, etc.) you have the same job as those writing novels or stories: to pull in readers, keep them interested, and peak their curiosities. So, to achieve the same things a creative writer hopes to achieve, a web writer needs to utilize some of the same tools and techniques.

Use a Story Arc

When you are writing for the web, you are trying to take readers through a very particular journey.
You are trying to gain their attention, turn them into interested readers or leads, make them customers, and then continue to educate and inform them so they will become ambassadors of your business. This process is very similar to the story arc of a novel or fiction piece.
A story arc has:
Exposition: The introduction of your characters, their background information, and why the reader should care about them.
Rising Action: The introduction of a conflict.
Climax: The conflict hits the most dramatic point.
Falling Action/Resolution: The characters find the solution to their problem and their stories are wrapped up.

Tug at the Heart-Strings

Using compelling characters, you take your readers on this journey. While your web writing may not contain an orphaned boy who learns he is a wizard and has to repeatedly battle the most powerful evil wizard in the world, it should tell a story.
One of the best examples of great storytelling on a digital medium is Dove. Dove tells the story of real women who don’t look like supermodels. We’re drawn into their stories because they are real. They then branched out and told the story of a soldier who simply wants to see his new son. There are compelling characters, rising action as they tell his story, and a resolution as he gets to see his son for the first time. (We’re not crying, you’re crying!)
While this is a video, you can use these techniques when writing a blog, creating web copy, or building a social media campaign.  The point is, no matter what you are writing, you need to make sure to do a few things:

  • Capture attention
  • Make a human connection
  • Appeal to emotions
  • Stand out

You can do all of these things by simply telling a compelling story. Whether it’s two pages or two sentences, writing for the web doesn’t have to be boring. And, if it’s done right, it will tell a story that sticks with your audience.

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