There are some pretty hilarious parodies out there mocking novelists who take this too far. This is a common phrase uttered in the book industry, but it’s becoming vogue with online (self-proclaimed) gurus too. Hmmm – maybe it’s time someone lampooned that segment. Perhaps another day.
The premise behind “show, don’t tell” (particularly as it is used in modern marketing vernacular) is that people remember stories better than tutorials – or character descriptions.
This actually has a lot of merit – in moderation. Blog writers can be more effective in identifying with their audience and spurring that “stay tuned” reader urge when stories are included in content.
Does this mean it’s smart to make every blog post about your personal history? Unless that’s why people come to read your material, that’s probably not wise.
There are some who do this artfully, including a few homesteaders and humor-focused content writers. Check out Just Typikel, an Inspired Blogging Group member blog, as an example of the latter, done well.
During the month of May, we’ll be hosting a Blog Challenge on the Facebook Inspired Blogging Group (this is a closed group, but we’re happy to approve invitation requests from anyone who blogs regularly and is willing to adhere to our minimal rules – the most important being at least two comments on other blogs per week). Leading up to and during the Challenge, Amy Potkonen and I (the co-managers) will be providing ideas, quick tips and posts to help you enhance your blog experience. This article is part of that.
Blogging to affect your readers
For most bloggers, particularly those who seek to realize some revenue from their efforts, “show don’t tell” is something that should be about explaining things in a way that makes it easier for your readers to understand. This applies not only to your posts, but also what you include on the pages of your website.
This could involve testimonials. Depending on what you do, video can be very effective. If you have client challenge and solution examples you can use as content to help readers see how what you offer might pertain to them (be very careful here – helping is fine, bragging, not so much), that’s a great way to show. Occasionally offering personal anecdotes is effective too – so long as you make most posts more about your readers than you.
Good story telling is an art. Most draw on personal experience to craft the tale. The key comes in grabbing your readers in a way that has them wanting to know more. Offering stories to help the reader identify with you, better understand what you offer, more easily apply what you are suggesting and to better remember you and your advice provides a powerful tool in your blogging mix.
The challenge comes in knowing when such a device will enhance what you’re trying to impart without coming off as staged. Part of this involves writing talent. Most of it can be gathered by trusting your gut – and hearing the cues offered by your readers (or clients).
“Show don’t tell” is basically about offering ideas in a way that includes stories – and mood enhancing details. Think about how you want your readers (or watchers, or listeners) to feel. What do you want them to take-away? Can you include a story to help make your point easier to understand or more memorable? Can you use an analogy? Can you illustrate your point in a way that is less instructional and more personable?
Think about how you got excited about learning then sharing what you now know. Use that early excitement experience to offer insight for crafting blogging strategies that will have high appeal. Tell your story, share your client success trajectories (have you considered interviewing your clients for blog post fodder?), offer observations, build on a quote or find something most can identify with (traveling, animals, families, living space, retail outings, cooking, etc.) and use it as the basis for an analogy.
There are tons of ways to tell a story that can engage and fascinate your readers. Most don’t care what you had for breakfast (unless you’re a health professional offering recipes). Almost everyone will identify with something that’s written (or recorded) to provide fun and easy ways to solve frustrations with illustrative examples.
Inspired Blogging Challenge in May
If you’re interested in getting engaged with a supportive and inventive crew, the Inspired Blogging Facebook Group can provide this (you must ask to join and be approved for this private group). Now’s a good time to get to know the players prior to the May Challenge (participation is optional – but why wouldn’t you want to join in on the fun?).
Story telling will be a subject of discussion as part of this challenge. Why not share yours?