Tell me a story

Pick up any newspaper – on paper or online – and you’ll find some of the best writers in the sports section and the business section.  (Mind you, these are also the sections in which you will find some of the worst writers.)

What makes these good writers good is partly their passion, their old-fashioned enthusiasm, and their knowledge.  But it’s also their mastery of the craft of writing.  They know how to choose the right word.  They know how to write a good sentence.  They know how to tell a story.

You can agree with their views.  Or you can disagree with them.  But it’s usually very hard to ignore them.  When a good writer starts telling a story, you want to know: what happens next?

In most organisations, the people responsible for writing proposals, reports, and similar documents are also knowledgeable.  And many of them are also passionate about their subject matter.  But all too few have mastered the craft of writing.  ‘I’m an economist, not a bloody poet,’ one such person told me recently.

Well, that may be so.  But if you want to tell me something – or sell me something – you had better learn to be a story teller.  You had better choose your words carefully.  (And avoid clichés.)  You had better learn to write a good sentence – followed by another good sentence, and another after that.  And you had better get me wanting to know: what happens next?

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