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People seem hard-wired to consume and enjoy stories. Fictional stories shape our thinking, influence our actions and influence our decisions.
One study found that "good storytelling" increased collaboration among a Filipino hunter-gatherer population. And Alexander the Great slept with a copy of Homer's Iliad every night next to him a fictional story that he used as a blueprint for his conquests. That story drove his decisions and changed history.
The average adult spends about 6 percent of their time doing fictional stories each day. Evolutionists have tried to understand Why People are so eager to consume fiction. But a non-fiction author doesn't have to know Why, just The.
By harnessing this human tendency to create powerful stories, non-fiction authors can vastly improve the quality of the books they write.
Narrative non-fiction books and emotionally powerful prose
Narrative nonfiction, also known as creative nonfiction, is a style of nonfiction writing that uses a similar approach to fiction writing. For example, the nonfiction book might follow the story arc very closely and have a clearly defined beginning, middle, climax, and end.
The main purpose of fiction is entertainment. There are many advanced skills that writers can use to add entertainment to their business books. These skills include emotionally powerful prose, rhythm changes, smooth tempo changes, and vivid descriptions.
The way to learn all of these advanced methods is to read a lot of fiction.
I'm a big fan of non-fiction narrative books. Whenever someone wants to write a book, I try to convince him or her to use this writing method whenever possible. My goal when working with writers is to make sure that the book they write is read from start to finish. Making the book fun is key.
Connected: Why storytelling is a skill every business owner should practice
Use the five senses
Describing with the five senses is a great way to involve your reader in your story. The more in-depth your reader is, the deeper the emotional impact of your narrative.
This applies to business books, memoirs, general non-fiction, self-help and many other non-fiction books.
However, too many descriptions can make a book boring. The way to learn what is "too much" or "too little" is to read a lot of popular fiction. The best fiction books use the senses of taste, smell, and touch to engage readers in the story, thus engaging them emotionally.
Brand perception has a lot to do with emotional responses, so this is an important skill to learn while writing nonfiction.
Connected: Here's how to create a brand story that buyers connect with emotionally
Pick up the pace and spark interest
Whether you're telling an anecdote or writing about your life story, changing the pace of the story goes a long way in evoking strong emotions in people.
Thrillers are especially good at this, especially towards the end of the story. Two writers who do this expertly are Harlan Coben and Lee Child.
By shortening sentences and paragraphs, you immediately accelerate the narrative pace. The same is achieved by quickly switching from scene to scene.
When writing a sales book, you can get readers to move forward in their seats and hold their books (or e-readers) a little tighter by writing a fast-paced anecdote about a million dollar deal. You could hop back and forth between the manager, the salesman, and maybe even the spouse waiting outside their child's school, eagerly waiting for a call to see if the deal came off – or if they were getting the house have lost!
The chapter will not only be exciting, but also unforgettable.
Connected: How to sell anything to someone by telling great stories
Anything can be turned into a story if you know how
I once worked with an author who only had a short system to write about.
So we hacked our way and figured out how to fill the book with narrative and emotional beats from start to finish. What began as a lukewarm book quickly turned into an exciting read.
It takes a little smart thinking to figure out how to add emotionally powerful narration to a book. If you read a lot of good fiction, you'll learn how to do it and will pay off when your ledger flies off the shelves.