Stuart McLean–I Want To Be Just Like You!

COMM 0014 Blog Post # 7

Stuart McLean is a masterful writer and storyteller! His fictional tales of Dave and Morley, two average Canadian citizens, who seem to always be getting themselves into a “pickle” are not only funny, but they are also very real for anyone who has been married for a while with children.

Ok, maybe Dave does a few more “off the wall” things than most of us would, but haven’t we all been part of a disastrous home improvement project, a well planned meal that went terribly wrong, or a family pet experience that created a small catastrophe at an important gathering?

Ironically, I have been reading some of McLean’s stories as I sit down and write this blog about what makes compelling content for digital storytellers. I think the answer is actually quite simple, but not as easily achieved.

It starts with being a good communicator. You need to be able to write interesting material, and be able to get to the point quickly. If you haven’t captured the reader’s attention in the first paragraph, it’s probably too late. Remember the inverted pyramid style of writing. It should be your Bible if you want to be a consistent blogger.

The writing needs to be conversational and targeted. Good writers know who their audience is and have an uncanny ability to capture their attention. How do they do it? They provoke a reaction from the reader by luring them in with key words, a topical subject, or with a question that begs a response.

Their writing has a smooth flow to it and is authentic. It’s easy to read and understand, it’s well researched, and it’s meaningful. Good writers generate a following because they effectively sell themselves as subject matter experts. Their writing becomes their personal brand.

Stuart McLean is a treasured Canadian icon. Long before blogs and other forms of social media existed, McLean, was connecting with Canadians through more traditional mediums like radio, books and live theatre. He still is.

While reading his books, you can hear his inflection coming through in the words, just like if you were driving along in your car listening to CBC radio and hearing another wild tale of Dave’s shenanigans on Vinyl Café. Unless the trip ends, you don’t dare turn the dial. McLean has a grip on his listeners, because he is the ultimate storyteller.

The challenge for the rest of is how do we make our readers hear our voice, when we don’t have a weekly following of millions of Canadian radio listeners? Like McLean, we need to find our niche. He has done it by creating a fictional family that lots of people can connect to because the stories are about day to day family life.

So what is your story and how are you going to tell it?