Now that you have written your story, you may want to add layers that make it stronger and more descriptive. The best stories “take it up a notch” so to speak, by layering on even more elements.
As you finish writing your story, try to incorporate:
- All five senses. Maybe you want to write about your favorite Christmas. Could you smell the fresh Christmas tree while opening the best gift ever? Did you have cinnamon rolls for breakfast? Were your sisters laughing or your parents yawning? Don’t just rely on what you saw to tell your story, tell us what you heard, smelled, touched, and tasted.
- Tangible emotion. I don’t just want you to tell me how you felt; you need to be able to show how you felt (and not just how you felt, but how everyone in the story felt). If you tell me, “I saw just a glimpse of my new born baby before I closed my eyes out of exhaustion. I waited for his cry. And waited. My eyes flashed back open, quickly searching the room for where they had taken him,” I know you’re not only tired, but scared. Put the reader in the room so she can feel the emotions for herself.
- A simile or metaphor. The best story tellers use literary elements like similes and metaphors. In Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, she writes, “You begin to string words together like beads to tell a story.” What a beautiful simile! You think to yourself, “I haven’t strung beads together since I was a kid. Is writing really as easy as playing with beads? Is it really as fun?” Anne wants you to know it is. But she didn’t just come out and say it, she gave you a visual picture. Using literary elements like these takes practice, but it’s so worth it when you get it right!
Adding these layers to your story will make it even richer. Play around with these elements until you feel they are just right. Your story won’t just tell people about something that happened in your life, if you do it right, it will put your audience in the events so they can feel it all themselves.
Other posts in these series on storytelling: