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59. Your Job is to Entertain

59. Your Job is to Entertain

“Often writers will complain that ‘people are too dumb and unwilling to be challenged, or my work would be more popular!’ I think this is a fib we tell ourselves when we feel inadequate. If you want to be a storyteller, that means it’s your job to communicate with the audience, not the other way around. The ‘channel of communication’ with an audience is the degree to which you entertain them. Entertaining someone demonstrates that you understand them and care about how they feel, and they’ll reward you by opening up to your story.”

This quote comes from a spectacular article on storytelling called “Star Wars Origins – Storytelling Lessons.” Over the course of the next few segments, I will be citing it way more than I probably should. This one is particularly important when your deep in the story creation process. As I’ve mentioned, myopia is one of the first things to set in when you spend too much time around your story, and that myopia makes it really hard to kill your darlings for the sake of better narrative.

You want to believe that the story your writing is yours, and that people will enjoy it because of that fact. It’s important, if you feel that little tug of ego, to realize that you write journals for yourself and you write stories for other people. You are trying to communicate a message and the story is merely a wrapper for it. You can be creative, even brilliant in how you choose to express that message but remember, you still need to speak to the audience you are trying to reach.

The most effective, most creative stories are the ones that take complex topics and make them understandable. They are entertaining as well as being informative. The people telling the stories realize that they can’t do their job unless they win the support of their audience and to do that, they need to create a story that their audience can relate to.

Take, for example, the video above by Common Craft. They specialize in taking obscure topics (like Twitter) and making them easy to understand. They are successful because they are so different. Instead of speaking in abstractions, they give concrete examples that anyone (even an Internet neophyte) can understand and relate to.

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