COM0014 – Storytelling and Communication Styles – Why ‘Once upon a time…’ works in storytelling

‘Once upon a time…’ grabs attention in only a few words and nothing is more critical in storytelling then getting someone to read beyond those first few words. ‘Once upon a time…’ heralds from our elementary reading days and still resonates with many of us as the beginning of a story. Today’s plethora of stories and ease of access to them, makes the first few words paramount in imparting information and transitioning a reader from skimming to analyzing a story.

How we read

You must know how people read in order to know how to write a story regardless if it’s fiction or non-fiction. People wade through the overabundance of accessible information using inspectional reading techniques. This makes your opening words the most important part in capturing the reader’s attention and making them stop to read your story more deeply.

Tips for retaining your reader

You must keep your reader engaged after they have committed to reading your story and these tips will help.

  1. Grammar, spelling, punctuation and choosing the correct word, need to be considered high priority or the flow of reading will be stopped at each mistake and disengage the reader.
  2. Your writing style is also important. If you write in active voice than you will be more clear and concise.
  3. You should break up large amounts of text with subject headings, sections or even into lists allowing easier skimming and analyzing.
  4. Include informational links in your stories to replace details as this will keep them concise and make your posts more shareable for interacting with the audience.
In the end it’s the beginning that matters most, however..

The beginning of your story is the most important part of attracting a reader and imparting information, however you should endevour to retain the reader and bring them to a higher level of reading. Your story may even encourage them to develop their own conclusions, or should I say their own ‘…happily ever after.’

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