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I’m getting this tattooed today

June 6, 2024

This morning, on my walk, I saw a hot-air balloon landing in the flat oval in front of me. It set all the dogs off barking and the joggers and walkers reaching for their phones.

The basket touched down and bounced once or twice. First, the pilot and then the passengers got out safely. This vast, swollen balloon lay dramatically in the center of the Oval. The pilot and the passengers worked hard to gently deflate and pack it away.

As I watched the balloon shrink to a manageable size, it hit me: The unwieldy, bloated balloon reminded me of an impromptu story. An off-the-cuff story can feel bloated for your audience if you deliver it without any preparation.

Despite your best efforts, you will ramble, miss important details, and make unnecessary detours. This could cost you that sale or promotion and stomp on your credibility. When you share an impromptu story, your audience could feel bored, wondering when this hot air-filled ramble will end.

The most important discipline in storytelling is to start by writing down your story first. Storytelling starts with story writing. This is counterintuitive, I get it.

Start by writing it all down, every twist and turn. English fantasy author Terry Pratchett said, ‘The first draft is you just telling yourself the story.’

Write exactly as you would say it, as conversationally as possible. Please don’t channel your grade 9 English teacher.

When you have the story written down, you can edit, sculpt, and refine it—like deflating and packing away that massive balloon.

Sharpen the beginning, edit out unnecessary detail, and give it a whizz-bang ending. Your story will be tighter, more engaging, and even inspiring.

But this is only possible with the written version first. If I were ever going to get a tattoo, it would read, ‘All storytelling begins with story writing.’ Maybe with a small butterfly next to it. OK, I am not getting this tattooed. But now you know my tattoo fantasy.

To make your written story captivating, use this 2-minute checklist, which includes key elements such as plot, character, and setting. I designed this checklist to ensure that your story is engaging, easy to follow, and impactful. I would never share a story without putting it through this checklist first.

Discover My Best Tip to Create A Captivating Story

Whether you’re an aspiring writer, a storyteller, or simply someone who loves a good tale, this video will unlock the key ingredient to engage your audience from start to finish.

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