Lorie’s List – 9/9/2016

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And I’m back with another addition of Lorie’s List! This one is pretty short and sweet because I wanted to tell you about two new websites I came across this week that you’ve got to know about. One is business related and the other is writing related. If your business is writing then I suppose they’re both business, so I stand corrected. Regardless – on to the websites.Person on computer with smart phone and notebook

  • getrecommended.com – I learned about this site during a freelance usability project I did earlier this week, and I’ll tell you I found something I was really excited about. The site is built to be an virtual word of mouth – a cross between LinkedIn and Facebook – where you talk about the business your do and recommendations from people that have used your products or services. It’s still somewhat early days for Aaron and the team at getrecommended.com, but I see a lot of potential here! After talking to Aaron and hearing about some of the things they’re working on I think this could be huge!woman-865111_960_720
  • Inkitt.com – I stumbled across this a few days ago when I heard they were sponsoring a writing contest. They company helps get authors published, I won’t go into the details, but it’s based on algorithms to determine what’s getting the most hits and what is most likely to sell. Right now they’re sponsoring a novel writing contest that will see three finalists get their books published, a professional cover, and money for marketing. The books will also be presented to bigger companies for additional distribution – which could be huge if one of the companies pick up the book!

I would love to know what you think about both of these sites. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Sometime the Story Just Won’t Be Told

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I’ve talked a lot about telling stories. About how important it is to tell your story, because no one else can. But, something I haven’t really discussed are the stories that can’t, or won’t be told.

Old fashioned typewriter

Some stories just won’t be told.

I’m not really talking about stories you can’t tell for legal or moral reasons. Really, those are kind of self explanatory. I’m talking about the stories you can’t tell because…well you just can’t. Maybe they’re too personal. Or too emotional. Maybe you don’t even know where to begin. Maybe even the thought of putting words down just makes you anxious. Well, I’m here to tell you, that’s OK too.

Right now I’m in one of those places. There is so much going on, so much happening (and none of good if I’m going to be totally honest) that I can’t get the words out. My usual approach to stress is to write about it, but right now I can’t.

I can’t write. I can’t talk. All of it just swirls around in my head and I can’t really grasp a single thought that I can use to start with. Normally I can put something down about what’s going on and impart some positive wisdom at the end. The light at the end of the tunnel.

But not now. Not yet. Maybe never.

Maybe one day I’ll find the words. Maybe one day the story will want to be told. Maybe I’ll find the happy ending and I can turn it all around. Today is not that day.

And you know what, I think that might be alright. Maybe some stories are just not meant to be told. Some stories are so personal, so overwhelming, so…big that they just can’t be told.

SO, today’s advice on storytelling: if you have a story that just won’t be told, a story that you just can’t tell, give it time. Give it space. Today may not be the day to tell that story. Don’t give up though, there are lots of stories out there waiting to be told. So hang on, grab the next one and don’t let go.

 

4 Ideas to Make Storytelling Easier

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I’ve gotten some questions recently about storytelling, and I thought I wold share some of the discussion with everyone. First, let me clarify what I mean about storytelling.

Old Typewriter

Tips for telling your story

To me, storytelling can be anytime you’re telling people something. That could be in the traditional sense like a novel or autobiography, or in a marketing sense like a marketing or social media campaign. Instructional design, script writing and video production as well as content development can all fall under storytelling – you’re trying to share information or persuade someone by telling someone something. I look at all these things as storytelling because it puts you more in the mind of getting your information out in a creative and/or interesting way that is more likely to hold interest and make an impact.

With that out of the way,  let’s look at 4 ideas (and a bonus tip) that will hopefully make storytelling easier for you.

  1. Who cares? I know, everyone should care about what you have to say. Unfortunately, that’s not actually true. So ask yourself, who am I telling this story to? Who is going to care from the first word, and who do I want to make care? Spend a few minutes thinking about the audience the piece is for and what you want them to take away from the story your telling.
    Old photo from New Your Times Newsroom of reporters working, on phone and reading

    These guys might care….

    I know that’s the first step in any kind of writing, but too often I see people trying to tell a story, market something or teach something taking a shotgun approach – spreading the information as thin as you can to try to reach as many people as possible. The majority of the time that only makes the story boring and too diluted to have the impact you want.

  2. Watch your language. It’s no secret that when people write for business they write more formally, it’s what we’ve all been taught. But, that’s not always the best option. You need to look at the audience and the story you’re telling. If you’re talking about profit and loss margins something more formal is probably the best choice. If you’re talking about a client’s theme park or telling people about the time you were having such a run of bad luck that your left shoe fell down a sewer grate and you never saw it again, you probably want to be a little more informal.

    What do I mean by informal? Using contractions for one. A lot of people seem to have issues using contractions in their writing, and that quickly makes everything more formal. Word choice is important too! Using slang can also be a big help in making what you’re writing more approachable. If your writing a young adult (YA) romance novel and say, “Would you like to go spend time at the local shopping complex?” versus, “Do you want to go hang out at the mall?” your reader is going to feel like they’re reading a text book – and chances are if they’re reading a YA romance novel they probably get enough of text books in their daily lives and won’t give your novel the time of day.

  3. Let your Medium guide you. I’m not talking about Madam Elaine, Psychic to the
    office-620817_1920

    Let your medium Guide you!

    Masses, I’m talking about the medium you’re using to tell the story. Are you telling your story verbally or in writing? Are you doing a slide show presentation or blog post? Consider the length of time or space you have to tell the story. Shorten or expand as necessary.

  4.  Say it out loud! One of the easiest and fastest ways to check on how your story sounds is to read it out loud to yourself. Listen to how it sounds. Does it sound too formal? Not formal enough? Is there a sentence that’s hard to understand when you hear it? Is it something that is easy to understand and hit the notes you’re looking to hit? The answers to questions like these will tell you a lot about the writing style you used for the piece (or your writing style in general) and the how others will hear it – even when they read to themselves most of your audience will be hearing their voice saying the words so in a way they are hearing it out loud.

    Bonus TIP! Reverse it! If you’re worried that your writing style or speaking style is too formal and you want to work on that, start verbally rather than in writing. This especially works well if you’re telling your life stories. Record yourself telling the story verbally before you start to write. Listen to it carefully. What do you notice about how you tell the story? Is your word choice different than when you write? Are your sentences shorter? Do you use a storytelling voice that is warm and approachable? Keep these things in mind when you start to write and see the difference it can make in the final product!

I would love to hear from you! Drop me a note and let me know what you think of the post and what tips or ideas you have to make storytelling easier!

I Did It or A NaNoWriMo Final Update

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I did it. I can hardly believe it, but I did it. I wrote my first novel. I did it in the crazed 30 day haze known as National Novel Writing Month. Now that I’ve done it I don’t know that I’ll do it again. Not because it was hard (which it is) or because it doesn’t fit my writing or lifestyle (it really doesn’t), but because I got out of it what I needed to, the knowledge that I could write a novel.

National Novel Writing Month Winner 2013 Banner

National Novel Writing Month Winner 2013 Banner

Note I did not say a good novel. What I wrote it pretty awful at this point. It needs major rewrites and editing, and that’s OK. Because I realized during NaNoWriMo this time (this was my third attempt) that the first draft doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs written down. The good part comes later (hopefully).

I, like a lot of us, have a lot of stories that I want to tell. But I have gotten so afraid that they aren’t going to come out the way that I want them to, or that people won’t like them, that I’ve been afraid to tell them. Thanks to those crazy 30 days in November of 2013 I’ve gotten over a lot of that. Maybe not completely. I’ll still be nervous sharing what I write, but aren’t we all? It’s like exposing part of our souls, and that’s tough no matter how you look at it, but before I can do that I have to actually get the stories out of my head and on to the page. This is something I now know I can do.

So look for more blog posts as I make my way back from my writing crazy writing adventure. I learned some interesting things about myself, about my writing process, a lot about how far I’ll go to procrastinate, and maybe most importantly – how far I’ll go to make sure my story gets told.

Tell Me a Story Tuesday – Spooky Edition

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Glowing Jack-o-lantern Ghost

This spooky ghost haunted a pumpkin a couple of years ago. 

It’s time for the Halloween Edition of Tell Me a Story Tuesday! Has something gone bump in the night? Got a good ghost story? Did you experience something spooky and live to tell the tale? Well tell us the tale! This is your chance to chance to share your paranormal parable. It’s simple really,. I’m not looking for perfection. I’m not looking for something to change the world. I’m try to give us all the opportunity to flex that little creative muscle that most of us don’t get to use as often as we should. No pressure. No judgement. Just a chance to share and have a little fun.

The Challenge: Tell me ghost story, or some sort of spooooky story perfect for Halloween. Let’s make them first hand accounts and not out-and-out fiction. Feel free to embellish if you’d like, but try to keep it plausible. Use the comment section below to share your to make sure everyone can see it (if it’s posted somewhere else or if it’s long you can share a link instead).

The Rules: Yep, there are a few rules, but there aren’t many. It’s more to keep things nice and friendly like. You can read the Ground Rules here or just visit the link at the top of the page.

The Prize: Our undying love and devotion. Alright, that’s kind of lame I admit. But, if people start to share stories than we’ll see what we can do about getting some sort of prize. In the mean time you are more than welcome to say you participated in the weekly storytelling event.

So, tell me a story! Spook Me!

Tell Me a Story Tuesday – Unexpected Day Off Edition

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Since it seems like the only thing getting done in Washington, D.C. today is a lot of stories being told about why they aren’t to blame for the government shutdown, it seemed like a good time for Tell Me a Story Tuesday! This week’s theme? Unexpected Day Off Edition!

The Challenge: It’s simple really, share a few lines about what happened on an unexpected day off. Maybe it was when you were a kid and school was cancelled because of snow. Or when someone hit a power line on campus and all of your college classes were cancelled. Maybe it was Snowmegedon a couple of years ago and you could stay home and have a snow day with the kids. All of them are awesome and we want to hear about them.

It can be the best memory. Or the worst. Feel free to embellish if you’d like, but try to keep it plausible (I think we’ll all call shenanigans on you if you tell us you went to Saturn for the afternoon). Use the comment section below to share your story to make sure everyone can see it (if it’s posted somewhere else or if it’s long you can share a link instead).

The Rules: Yep, there are a few rules, but there aren’t many. It’s more to keep things nice and friendly like. You can read the Ground Rules here or just visit the link at the top of the page.

The Prize: Our undying love and devotion. Alright, that’s kind of lame I admit. But, if people start to share stories than we’ll see what we can do about getting some sort of prize. In the mean time you are more than welcome to say you participated in the weekly storytelling event.

So, tell me a story! And who knows…you tell me yours and I may just

PLEASE NOTE: I am in no way trying to make light of what’s going on in Washington. I spent a number of years as a government contractor and have a lot of friends who are government employees and contractors that are in a really rough spot today. But if I can give them, or you, something else to think about for a few minutes, then maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

 

On the Occasion of a Milestone Birthday

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Candles spell out the traditional English birt...

It’s not the number of candles, it’s the story they tell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve reached a milestone birthday and, as so many of us do, I’ve done a lot of thinking. I haven’t necessarily come up with any great epiphanies, but I’ve been reminded how much I love to tell stories. I’ve realized how much I miss the rush I get from doing creative things for me and how sad it is that I don’t make much time to do creative things for myself.

I’ve thought a lot about telling stories. I see and hear people talk about the best ways to tell stories using social media, video and marketing. And, most of the time they’re telling us why they’re experts. I guess part of the reason I wanted to write this blog was to some how give the impression that I was one of those “experts.” But it’s occurred to me over the last few weeks that the people who are telling the best stories in the mediums I care most about don’t really have time to talk about what experts, gurus or ninjas they are – they’re too busy out there being amazing.

I’ve decided I want to spend a little more time out there trying to be more amazing and less time trying to convince people I’m some sort of expert. What does it mean for the blog? I’m not sure – probably that I’ll focus more on the art of story telling and less on the mediums, but we’ll see. I believe in the power of words, and that any message from marketing to training can be made stronger by rooting it a good story.

Should you feel so inclined to give me a present, let it be this – tell a story today. When someone asks you how your day went don’t just give them a laundry list, tell them a story. A funny memory cross your mind? Write it down (I’d love it if you shared in comments below)! Tell a child a story from your childhood, something funny, something sad, it doesn’t matter. For my Big Birthday, tell a story.

Telling stories is universal. It brings us closer and makes us feel connected. So as a move forward into another decade I’m doing it with an eye on with making a great story. Here’s to a new chapter!