Tag Archive for Audience-centred writing

What’s in a Story?

Last year, when I created Generations as a homage to the many generations that built St. Philip’s Anglican Church in Dunbar (to honour the church’s 90th anniversary), the idea came to me of tying together a narrative of music with a story line.

The first rule of such an approach is to avoid hitting the audience over the head with the story, so I left a lot to their intelligence and their own personal creativity to figure out.

The music selections where lightly connected to the idea of intergenerational connections (A string quartet by “Pappa” Haydn, Songs my Mother Taught Me by Antonin Dvorak, and the feature work, Timepieces by Jeffrey Ryan, which I had commissioned as a memorial to my own father).

This year’s concert part of The Tárogató Project springs from a similar idea—it weaves together three distinct stories:

1) The musical part is a journey through the literature (or some of it) of Hungarian music (from simple shepherd’s songs to grand Romance to newly commissioned works for the tárogató),

2) the next part explores the story of the Hungarian refugees, particularly those from the University of Sopron who came to Vancouver and made a positive impact on the city, UBC, and forestry practices in BC, and

3) the final story deals with the contemporary unfolding drama of today’s refugees and the challenges they face making their new home, Vancouver, home.

The music will weave its own thread leaving the other two stories to drive the narrative (and the music to provide meditation points).

The date is 30 April 2017 (4pm) at St. Philip’s Church (Dunbar).

Making Hay of Story Threads

In the Rumpelstiltskin fable by the Brothers Grimm, a young maiden makes a pact with a gnome to help her fulfill her father’s boast that she can spin hay into gold. It’s this bit of alchemy that reminded me of the many threads that can come together to make a good story.

More than Marketing Bumpf

The challenge in writing an ongoing blog about the same technology (as is the case at Webtech Wireless where I write), is to write about more than just the products and services the company offers. That gets stale really fast. I try to keep it alive by finding interesting threads that tell stories indirectly about the benefits of our goods and services. So, not a direct sell but value given in the vicinity of our goods and services.

For example, my May 23, 2013 blog post, “Fleet GPS: The Needle in the Haystack” brings several seemingly unrelated events together and tells them in a way that reflects favourably on Webtech Wireless’ offerings.

Here are the threads the provided an interesting story about Webtech Wireless’ GPS fleet tracking technology:

  • Recent tornadoes in Oklahoma galvanizing the media’s attention
  • Other severe weather in Oklahoma, drought. Did you know it’s been going on there for three years?
  • Due to drought, the price of hay is going up.
  • As the price of hay goes up, theft of hay bales is on the rise.
  • To counters this, ranchers and farmers are turning to technology in the form of GPS locators placed in hay bales to help track them.
  • A recent article lambastes the perception that Intelligent Communities are always urban. The writer says that rural areas stand to benefit from new technologies.
  • Oh, did you know that our wireless GPS locators are really good for tracking assets to prevent theft and help with recovery?
  • And by the way, several of our clients have been nominated for Intelligent Community awards (here, I rely on SEO to tie this thread in as we have several articles about Ville de Québec and other clients of ours that were nominated).

These stories by themselves don’t relate closely to our products, but put together into a narrative they spin a tale that, if not gold, is a step up from the usual marketing bumpf that plagues many blogs.

Read the article: “Fleet GPS: The Needle in the Haystack

Writing for the Web: Clarity 1/7

Clarity

Futurama - Stuff n' Junk (or whatever)Using concrete specific words won’t necessarily make your writing shorter, but it will make it more interesting to read. Consider the following:

“A number of factors must be addressed to ensure this effort meets its objectives within the proposed time frame.”

Avoid:

  • Several – how many?
  • Numerous – What number?
  • Various – Which?
  • Very – use your imagination!

And of course:

  • Stuff
  • Junk
  • Whatever!

Rule: Use Concrete Specific Words

Audience-Centred Writing

Here’s a great vlog by Jim Everett on how effectively Starbucks employs audience-centred writing. Jim’s writing and speaking exemplify the best of web usability in itself.