Why Telling a Good Story Makes You a More Trustworthy and Experienced Writer

Yesterday, we kicked off the week by talking about the power of stories.

It’s a topic worth delving into, especially if you want to make your living writing.

Stories are to writers what sugar is to chefs. It’s that little something that stimulates pleasure in the brain. It makes you yearn for more. It can knock you into a euphoric frame of mind.

Stories are also a powerful tool for beginning writers, because they can make your reader perceive you as much more experienced than you really are. Or, you might come off as being more relatable to your reader, which is also a powerful form of connection.

For example, I once read about a young blogger who worried he’d never gain a readership due to his inexperience. Instead of trying to be something he wasn’t, he sought out stories from the top names in his industry. He asked them for quotes and looked for tantalizing passages they’d written. Then he added those things to his blog.

By capturing multiple stories that connected his readers to the things he was trying to portray — like experience and value — he appeared to have those same traits himself, and his readership grew.

A lot of his success came about, because he knew how to help his readers get what they wanted. It’s the same case for you, if you’re writing something intended to help a prospect solve a problem or overcome a challenge.

In other words, before crafting any story, ask yourself who you’re writing to and what your goal is when it comes to engaging him or her.

Let’s say you’re writing a website to sell yard maintenance services. You do your research and discover your key prospects are usually forty-somethings in a two-income household with two or more kids who live in the suburbs.

Their burning desire is to enjoy family-centered weekends in their sprawling backyards, but they don’t have the time to mow the lawns and trim the hedges every week.

For your website project, you could pop out a bunch of bullets about professional services and a proven track record and high-grade equipment.

Or, you could tell a story about Bob the Businessman who unwinds each week in his shade-dappled yard, where the scent of honeysuckle lingers by the sun-warmed patio chairs, and the freshly swept flagstone feels cool against his bare feet. You could talk about how he and his wife watch their kids splash and play in the clear pool water as the smell of barbecued ribs wafts across the neatly trimmed lawn.

(I don’t know about you, but just writing that makes me want to pay a visit to Bob the Businessman!)

The point is, telling a story is more likely to help your prospect connect the dots from his or her problem to your solution.

And, if you can add sensory elements by describing the way things smell and taste and feel, your story will be even more effective at lighting up your reader’s sensory cortex — thereby forming a memorable connection.

Try this simple practice exercise to sharpen your sensory-based writing. Pick something you love, then explain it on every level possible. Describe the way it looks, feels, smells, and tastes. Describe the sounds associated with it.

For example, I chose rhubarb pie. It’s something I associate with lazy summer afternoons where birdsong rings clear through the air and the scent of sunblock and fresh garden dirt fill my backyard.

What about you? Share your practice exercise here.

Maya Angelou said it best: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Stories will always be one of our most powerful tools for the creation of feelings. Tomorrow, I’ll be back to explain how to frame your personal stories so they resonate with and engage your readers. Remember, engagement prompts action, whether that means more buyers for your product, more subscribers for your service, or more donations for your cause.

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Published: June 2, 2015

25 Responses to “Why Telling a Good Story Makes You a More Trustworthy and Experienced Writer”

  1. At work, I speak to an audience of about 200 every week. They are all people I know and work with, which makes it easy. Last year, I said something about Maya Angelou, and in commemoration, read one of my favorite poems. Your quote of hers brought back memories...But to describe something that I love is 'reading' - so here goes...I am sitting in my favorite recliner and have in my hands a book of suspense. As I delve deeper into the plot, my heart starts to pound and my hands tense...then...!

    RockyBalladJune 2, 2015 at 12:02 pm

  2. A favorite place to visit...

    Approaching the rim and peering into the Grand Canyon for the first time will take your breath away The sheer size and grandeur almost make it look like a vast canvas instead of a natural landscape.

    After regaining your composure, retire to the El Tovar Hotel lounge’s porch and sip on a cool one while gazing across the “House of Rock and Light.” So-called because of the way light and shadow play on the canyon’s formations.

    It's an experience you’ll never forget.

    Bill KirkJune 2, 2015 at 4:01 pm

  3. I love to tell stories of childhood memories at lunch with co-workers. I am not sure how to write it down the same way. Help!

    Denise CJune 2, 2015 at 4:09 pm

  4. Great post, Cindy!

    Story is indeed the way to your reader's heart.

    We must also keep in mind that there are various ways to deliver a story to our readers than using purple prose. While, a good description can conjure up a vivid mental image, we must also remember that point-of-view plays a significant role in relevancy.

    Case studies, blog comments, ebooks, and infographics all tell stories from varying point-of-views. They also allow readers different ways to digest the information.

    Looking forward for the next post!

    LarryJune 2, 2015 at 5:10 pm

  5. I sat humbly in my garden, gazing at the three robins that chirped excitedly as they chased one another in circles above the ground where my majestic maple tree once stood. From the corner of my eye, I caught a squirrel scurrying up to the table in my driveway and eating the pecans my husband had laid out for him. I couldn't help but smile in spite my previous gloom...

    Guest (freeSoul)June 2, 2015 at 8:06 pm

  6. Why Telling A story Makes you a more trustworthy.....

    Being West Indian I just love my mother's fruit cake. The fruits are blended & soaked well in wine usually for over a year. As a child the memories of the heavenly, most sumptous, sweet, delicious, to die for, lingering in the air, cake smell always made me happy as though nothing else in the world mattered .I remember helping my mother to mix the butter and the sugar and adding the flour and all the other magical and nice ingredients to make the best cake in the whole wide world. Sitting to eat it was even more pleasurable and yummy than the smell itself. For me eating this cake at Christmas time made me constantly wish everyday was Christmas.

    Guest (Michele C)June 2, 2015 at 10:04 pm

  7. A chore from my childhood that evokes a warm feeling…

    Standing on our old wood porch at the foot of our twine clothesline - I spy fresh linen fluttering in the crisp autumn breeze. With numb hands I reach for the rope to call home our laundry from its perch high above our yard.

    Sheets dancing and flap in the wind as the cast iron pulley squeals with each pull of the hemp cord. Grasping the first massive sheet, I awkwardly, but ceremonially fold the fresh bedding. Clean and square, ready for the basket. One last task remains.
    In anticipation I raise the cool cloth fabric to my face. I inhale deeply. My sense of smell made giddy by autumn’s sweet breath embedded in freshly cleaned sheets.

    Life’s simple things are the most joyful.

    Mike SJune 3, 2015 at 12:49 am

  8. Professional comedians and successful screenwriters understand the concepts and power of story telling. The secret is in the format of the story PLUS the use of subliminal triggers of emotion. Never underestimate the persuasive power of a well formulated emotional story.

    Matt RixxJune 3, 2015 at 9:48 am

  9. Watermelon, ice cold, sweet and juicy, refreshing, against the intense heat and humidity of a Florida summer, with flies buzzing around, the moisture in the air pressing on your skin, and the smell of cut grass under the picnic blanket, the sharp edges poking through to tickle your feet.

    Fletcher ToddJune 3, 2015 at 9:52 am

  10. It's 5am and the rest of house of still snuggled sweetly in their comfy beds. I tiptoe down the stairs careful to skip the cricky one.

    Why am I up so early?
    For my quiet time of course.

    The best of the day begins with the quiet solitude of time spent praying, journaling, and reading the Bible. The only thing I hear is the sound of my own breathing. It's still early so not even the birds are awake yet.

    I sit on my reclining couch and raise the foot rest. Next I place a pillow on my lap. Propping my Bible on the pillow, positioned just right for the soft light of a tiny lamp to eliminate the crisp pages.

    My journal and pen sit on to my right on the arm of the couch ready to record divine insights as I begin reading God's Word.

    EmarksJune 3, 2015 at 10:30 am

  11. Each spring I fill over 20 assorted pots in my private courtyard with flowers I've chosen from three or four nurseries I've scoured several times in April and May. Planning various combinations of plants feeds my creativity. Planting each plant absorbs my thinking and I feel the stress melting away. Watching the beautiful red, orange, yellow, purple, pink and white blooms gradually unfold in all their glory soothes my soul. Soon delicate butterflies are flitting from flower to flower, with the hummingbirds right behind them, drinking the nectar from each bloom.

    Guest (Carol Montgomery)June 3, 2015 at 11:23 am

  12. I am sitting on a jumpseat at the bow of a catamaran knifing through the crystal waters of the British Virgin Islands. My recent hunger has just been sated by the sumptuous breakfast we've enjoyed on deck. My girlfriend is sunning herself in the netting just behind me. Damn, she looks good in that bathing suit. I look out on the horizon and see endless ocean and bright blue skies. My face is at once warmed by sun and cooled by the ocean breeze ahead. I have another sip of the drink in my hand as I listen to some of my favorite songs on my phone. I think to myself that there are few completely perfect moments in life. This is one of them.

    Notes from RicJune 3, 2015 at 2:58 pm

  13. I love walking early in the morning when the sun has just topped the trees. I put my sunglasses on and start out, taking deep breaths and looking at the blue sky that may or may not have a few clouds. This is my time to be alone before the busy day and before my family is up. I listen to the birds chirping- some vigorously and others sweetly. Most of all, I love talking to God. I thank Him for another day to live and enjoy, for the night's sleep, for just being Him who loves me and strengthens me, for my family and friends, and whatever else come to mind. By the time I have returned home, I feel relaxed, invigorated, and ready to face my day.

    Guest (Diane Maurer)June 3, 2015 at 3:12 pm

  14. Every time I hear "Dance to the Music" by Sly & the Family Stone...I'm transported back to my days at camp...and an afternoon sitting on wood benches in the main hall.
    As we stood up to stretch out the kinks, someone started the record player...and the music erupted.
    Virtually everyone broke into dance.
    I still feel a gush of joy as I remember over 30 people grinning from ear to ear while they moved to the beat.
    If there’s such a thing as total bliss, it was that afternoon…during that song.

    Nancy TossellJune 3, 2015 at 3:42 pm

  15. "ok, sister" I said as I continued down the three flights of stairs to the basement where the lavoratories are located. My bangs were too long, Sister trimmed them and sent me to wash my face. Walking down the corridor in the basement, approching the corner a familiar shadow appeared on the wall. The principal and her brass ruler. Putting out my hands for the smacks that I was given, I was determined not to cry in front of her, later was another story to be sure.

    Denise CJune 3, 2015 at 3:52 pm

  16. Tightening the belt on my robe I slip quietly out the back door, trying not to wake the dog. Steam rolling off my cup of coffee almost matches the heavy dew that creates a fog like mist over the back field. I sit, taking a sip of coffee, careful not to burn my tongue. I look out, past the back yard fence, through the mist to the fields beyond. I can barely make out the slow movements in the field but know they are the cows, waking from their own slumber to start their day.

    Debbie DiFonzoJune 3, 2015 at 4:17 pm

  17. I have always loved animals. When I was very small, we had two plow horses that my Dad and I would ride. He would let me ride alone with a lead rope between us. Because these were work horses they did not always want to ride. One day, when I was about 3, my dad put me on Molly and gave me the reins. He also gave me a small switch. He told me to hit her with the switch to make her go & pull back on the reins to make her stop. Being all of 3, I confused my instructions and began doing everything at once, hitting her & pulling on the reins at the same time telling her to whoa. She was in a full gallop headed for the woods when Dad caught us. That was my first solitary horse ride.

    PtrishJune 3, 2015 at 5:03 pm

  18. Sleepily I rub my eyes and swing my feet over the edge of the bed. I slip my feet into the softness of my fuzzy slippers and stumble down the stairs in my warm robe. I start the coffee maker and make my way into the sun room where I flop in the chair and gaze out the window. The sun is shining brightly and I hear the birds chirping cheerfully. I see the colorful summer flowers and smell their sweet fragrance. Then it hits me... the smell of freshly brewed coffee. I go and pour me a cup of the fragrant brew and breathe deeply. I smile as I settle down to the tune of the birds and taste the richness of my fresh coffee. Then I know... it's going to be a wonderful day!

    Guest (Sue L)June 3, 2015 at 5:29 pm

  19. A glance at the thermometer tells me I'd better go walking early before the heat begins. Quietly, I slip into my walking shoes, grab a jacket, softly, close the door and step into the cool morning air.

    "Thank You, God, for morning and for this refreshing walk with You..." And so we walk and talk, as birds sing, and the morning sun peeps over the mountains.

    Back home, I take a deep breath of fresh air, and with a smile on my lips and in my heart step inside, exhilarated, ready to begin my day.

    Clara Mae June 3, 2015 at 11:27 pm

  20. I love to get up early and walk my dog in the still, morning hour of 5:30am. Often, a full moon can still be seen, shining brightly over the calm lake.
    Sometimes a soft cloud will drift by adding softness to the serene morning sky. One by one,the morning song of the birds starts to ring with a chorus of different calls and tones. One morning I caught the sound of the owls hooting to each other as it echoed from the tree tops. A peace of God's creation in stillness.

    sesJune 4, 2015 at 8:58 am

  21. " Everybody has a story, but few know how to tell a story," I read this somewhere and I believe that stories are the most powerful tool to engage or connect the listener to your feelings. Personal stories are windows from where the listener can peep into your life and understands your true personality. Stories can be used to write a copy, that idea is superb. As a short story writer, I am thrilled to apply this wonderful idea in writing copies. Thanks, Mindy McHorse for the wonderful tip.

    Guest (Nusrat)June 4, 2015 at 1:37 pm

  22. I love the 4th of July ever since I can remember I watched the New York Firework Display on the television. Last year I received an invite to spend the holiday on the vessel the 'Riptide’. Captain Thomas welcomed everyone on onboard, and then steered his way into the Hudson River. In the distance Empire State Building was lit up in the colors of the flag. We floated by the Statue of Liberty as she held her torch high above her head that reflected into the water. Reaching our destination,the National Anthem blared when the program began. I was entangled into the colorful fiery spangles that rained upon me. When it was time for the finale. It was a heartfelt moment as the fireworks illuminated the sky, dancing to the patriotic music.

    Theresa SchevisJune 5, 2015 at 8:47 pm

  23. This article inspired me to put a true story on paper. It's a story that helps me stay focused on my goal as I travel this journey to becoming a freelance writer.

    I was getting ready for work when my phone rang. I had just moved to Dallas a few weeks earlier and didn’t know many people, so it was unusual that I would get a phone call.

    “Hello.” A man on the other end asked, “is this Cindy Atkinson?” I was startled but replied “yes.” He then asked if I worked at ____? I became suspicious and said, “who wants to know?”

    To read the rest of the story ...
    machonecopy dot com/from-freight-dog-to-freelance-writer/

    Guest (Cindy)June 10, 2015 at 6:05 pm

  24. Well, needless to say, OK, why do we say that? It is a matter of fact I want to project and I believe it to be necessary. Needless to say must mean that it is not needed. So, why say that? And, why am I writing about it? Did I capture your attention? Was it worth reading? So, writers, thank you for all of your memories. I appreciated each and every one of them and found them to be needed and worthy.

    Shelley MaidenJuly 5, 2015 at 3:48 pm

  25. Thanks for the exercise. I couldn't do that in 500 words. So go here:

    followthecougar.blogspot.com/2015/08/y-rv.html

    BobHAugust 7, 2015 at 9:40 am


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