How to Keep Your Audience Interested by Writing Long-Term Story Arcs

How to Keep Your Audience Interested by Writing Long-Term Story Arcs

Reader Comments (31)

  1. This is exactly what I’m doing with my new blog http://www.dylanbredengerd.com. I get a lot of emails from people I mentor personally, and those emails form the basis for a lot of my content! More often then not the email conversations continue for a while, forming a great story arc. Why not turn those personal communications into content? Surely SOMEONE else has need of the the conclusions we arrive at.

    • I’m developing the “24” of blogs. Think about that show: They discovered the perfect formula for creating “entertainment crack cocaine.” Talk about a story arc! My wife and I got addicted after the show had stopped airing, and thank goodness! We were watching 3 and 4 episodes a night on Netflix! I don’t know how you people ever waited an entire week between episodes when it was on TV! And this from a guy who isn’t into television.

  2. Georgina, I really enjoyed reading about the use of story arcs in blog writing. This is a concept I really hadn’t thought about before. On my blog, I aim for a monthly topic that I approach from a different angle in a weekly post. Would that be a form of a story arc?

    • Sure, Monica. We do a similar thing with some of the features and series we run at ProBlogger 🙂

  3. Hello, Georgina,

    The concepts here are both easy to understand and to integrate directly into my blog which I appreciate. However, this does not mean that that they are simple, you have just made complex ideas easy, a sign of a strong writer.

    Your phrase “niche storyline” is novel for me, and I love the psychology and appeal behind it. By hitting that niche in an ongoing story, you are able to practice positive SEO strategies while engaging the reader in the long term. The longer duration facilitates a a profound level of intimacy with readers, which is so important because your niche story has drawn in your ideal reader, from a marketing point of view.

    Maintaining the level of excitement or engagement in the schedule of your serial posts accomplishes your goal of getting clients to return, draws the reader into the brand story, and intensifies the intimacy. I think the idea of creating tension or conflict is valuable because it drives all stories.

    In literature, for example, a story without the tension that builds and eventually releases, fails to function for the reader and ends up being a waste of time. In terms of the niche storyline, readers will not return to your piece, nor will you be able to achieve intimacy and connection.

    If the connection and intimacy wither, not only are you left without a story, but without a client as well. Thank you for a great post!

    Darin

  4. Mickey Spillane said, “The first page sells that book. The last page sells your next book.” He was absolutely right, and the man retained a loyal reader following that he was still writing for to his dying breath. What you’ve presented here is a great tutorial for using story arcs to advance your business and brand. Love it!

  5. Thanks for this – I like the way you have given us several routes to achieving the extension of interest. The series of articles was an obvious starting point, but I already have a couple of ideas for the sprinoff route.

  6. I like the idea of story arcs. I’m not very good at them, but I try to employ them in my blog writing. I try to do this with my cornerstone content each quarter. I try to put together a series of post centered around my core business. What I’m not doing well, is building the narrative or arc between post. Good idea and love the Queensland arc idea.
    Thanks!

  7. This is great Georgina!

    It’s so easy to think only in terms of single posts and completely miss opportunities like having an overarching story.

    I guess an added bonus is that even if people come to the story late, there’s a good chance they’ll go back and do a “series catch-up” from the start of the arc? Which can only help increase the shelf-life of those earlier posts…

    On a micro-scale I’ve used a similar approach on Twitter in the past. I was involved in promoting a short series of comedy videos for the BBC by tweeting as the main character (a famous historical figure inexplicably transported into modern times).

    Although the videos were self-contained episodes, we found we could create separate little stories in real-time on Twitter and let them unfold organically. The character’s followers would chip in with comments and advice and we’d let them influence the story, which they absolutely loved.

    In fact his reported adventures on Facebook and Twitter got much better levels of engagement than the original videos did.

    And the great thing was that these stories could go absolutely anywhere because we weren’t filming them – just relating them on Twitter. So we could let our imaginations run riot.

    People love stories. And they really love stories they can be part of!

    Glen

    • Glen, I agree—social media is a great place to hook people into a story arc, whether the story’s wholly contained within that social network, taking place on your site, or taking place in your life 🙂

  8. It’s true! Stories are everywhere in our lives. I’ve wanted to rename this age we’re in the Age of Narrativism instead of postmodernism, but that’s another topic.

    I’m running a theology blog that is highly informational, but I’ve integrated my own story into the information as well as the story of the typical Christian sex-addict. This has been very effective in bringing people back to the blog as well as thumbing through several posts in the first visit.

    Thanks for giving me more ideas to implement story into my blog!

    • You’re company sells a product or a service to a person with a personal story. Figure out how your company is making your customers’ lives better and tell those stories. You’re customers are a goldmine of content!

    • Yep, Trevor, there are stories everywhere: within the industry in which the company blog operates, within the company itself, and within the relationships it builds with others (clients, partners/suppliers, peers, etc.). So there are lots of opportunities for story arcs there 🙂

  9. People love to read stories. It is a great idea to use storylines to get readers engaged. I like your Queensland Blogging adventure example. I am planning a free seminar with Christmas prize draw for our members. I will apply the same strategy and see how it works 🙂

  10. I love the idea of story arcs. it’s an idea of I’ve sorta-kinda tried to incorporate into some of my blog posts, but never to the extent you have detailed. What great insight.

    I will be keeping this concept in mind as I continue to grow my blog. Thanks for the well thought out article.

    Cheers!

  11. Thank you for a great idea Georgina. I hadn’t considered that approach.. Your six post template is a very useful guide for future arcs. Adding that sixth post re the live commentary is a great add on, and shows that by considering what tools we have available at any given time we may improve what we have even more. We could apply a mind map to this.and who knows what benefits could develop?

  12. I noticed that on ProBlogger Georgina.

    I think the biggest takeaway is a REMINDER THAT STORIES WORK! Great of thrashing it out. Looking forward to more on this. I also just happen to love the term “story arc”; has a grand feel to it, no? 😛

    All the best 🙂

  13. I like this. Screenwriting is one of my passions, so I am always thinking in story arcs. I’ll try and incorporate more of this when I market my blog.

  14. Multi-part series really do provide a lot of benefits — not only do they keep the audience tuning next for the next thrilling chapter of the story, but they also allow the writer to take some time and go into depth instead of hurriedly skating through the material. They can even form the bare bones of a future book, e-book or full-blown multimedia course. I usually preface the whole thing with an introductory post laying out the expectations for what’s to come. To me, this serves as the big setup for the story — the “once upon a time,” if you will.

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