What's the best way to begin a story? For those involved in business storytelling for profit, this is crucial. A bad beginning makes it harder to achieve your goal of telling a perfect story.
Everyone understands that the beginning — or lead in a newspaper story — must be informative, enticing and leave the reader wanting more.
I spends days on each column I write for The Dallas Morning News. If I come up with a poor lead, days of work will go down the drain when readers quit on me.
— vicburkhammer (@vicburkhammer) March 18, 2015
To me, it's almost a science — the way I begin. I imagine a reader who knows nothing about the subject who needs me to get them to shift their attention away from what they're doing and come along with me for the ride.
The beginning of a story is everything
How do I do? Am I successful?
You decide. I'll share some of my recent leads and you decide if you want to know more.
Nov. 5, 2015:
Suddenly, it’s much harder to find out if you have a little bit of unclaimed money owed to you. Until recently, you could check a free state website that lists $4 billion in unclaimed property owed to Texans.
Nov. 14, 2015:
“The records were destroyed as required.”
With those words from a Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman, a long-running saga comes to an end. Sets of full fingerprints taken without legal authority from 2 million Texans at driver’s license centers are deleted from state records, the DPS says.
Nov. 6, 2015:
For the first time anywhere, The Watchdog is pleased to deliver to your doorstep something Texans have wanted for years. Texans wonder which electricity companies offer monthly plans without charging those unfair minimum-usage fees. I’ll tell you.
Oct. 31, 2015:
Oh, Billey Burdick, what have ye done? ’Tis quite a fine mess you’ve gotten yourself into once again.
After 18 years in prison, you regained your freedom. But it sounds like you’re up to your old tricks: overcharging homeowners for your crackpot contracting jobs. This time, though, you went to the wrong house.
Oct. 29, 2015:
Don’t open the door.
An alarm salesman — one you didn’t ask to drop by — is knocking insistently at your front door.
If you open the door, he will try to sell you an alarm system with a lengthy contract. If you already have one, he’ll say his system is better.
What do they have in common? They all try to display a strong voice with a sharp point of view.
So simple a kid can do it
It's not so difficult. In fact, I taught an 8th grader to do it.
Years ago, every Friday afternoon, I visited my son’s school, Westlake Academy in Westlake, Texas, near Fort Worth. From 4 to 5:30 p.m. , I taught about 40 kids, grades 6-9, about the storytelling methods I use in writing and speaking. I have learned you don’t have to be an accomplished writer to pull this off.
Brooke Awtry was an eighth grader when we talked about how to cover a traffic accident involving a prominent family in the school. I didn’t have to tell her what to do, though. She had listened to the principles I shared. She wanted to implement them herself. She said to me, “I want to write this like a story, with characters and describe the drama of the scene. Is that OK?”
So on her very first attempt, Brooke wrote a front page story in our little newspaper, The Black Cow, that not only was memorable, it also won first prize in the Texas journalism competition statewide for best news story. Here is how she wrote it:
Imagine: It’s a rainy day, and all of a sudden you and your family members are in a van turned upside down in the bottom of the creek in Southlake. All you can hear is screaming. The van windows are shattered. You look outside and see water and the world flipped upside down.
Your mom’s head is underwater. Everything is wet. And everyone is hanging upside down by their seat belts. Sound unbearable? This is what happened to 4th grader Victoria Garabedian and her family.
Beginnings are everything. Without a strong one, well, forget it.
Remember that you can bring Dave Lieber to your group. He’s an expert in storytelling for business and showing the power of storytelling to increase sales, build support, raise money and attract attention.
Dave Lieber. Authentic. Engaging. Interactive.
BOOK DAVE NOW. Contact his office here or CALL 1-800-557-8166.