The secret of writing well is simple –– Storytelling. Bill Buford, a fiction editor for The New Yorker, tells us why:
Stories are how we assemble and pass along knowledge:
- “Let me tell you what happened when we launched this new software.”
- “Here’s what I learned this weekend about camping without the proper equipment.”
- “Let me tell you what happened as I was driving to work this morning.”
Stories become the foundation of our individual and collective memories:
- “We tried that years ago, and here’s why it didn’t work.”
- “Next time let’s remember what we learned from this experiment.”
Stories help us make sense of our lives:
- The doctor told me about another of his patients who faced the same diagnosis.”
Stories are our primary tools of learning and teaching, the repositories of our lore and legends. They bring order into our confusing world. Think about how many times a day you use stories to pass along data, insights, memories or common-sense advice.
Over time stories become the mile markers of our lives. High school. Your first job. We all can tell tales of what we learned, or didn’t. Illness. Disappointment. Stories archive the memories.
Stories are moving images we can see and feel, transforming us from passive listeners to active characters in the narrative.
What’s more, because we’ve been telling stories all our lives, we’re very good at it, even when we’re a bit windy.
Good writing, especially in businesses, is nothing more than telling stories well. That’s why teaching people in business how to write well is so easy. If you can tell a good story, you can write it.
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