5 Tips to Draft a Captivating Story

by Heather Campisi, PCM®, CDMP, Withum | May 23, 2024

There it is — that vast white space staring you right in the face. You’re hoping words will fill the page magically, but you have no idea where to start. Drafting a captivating story can be difficult. But with the right tips and tools, a white screen can quickly become an experience that takes readers on a journey.

So, how do you begin? Below are five tips for drafting a captivating story, offering a foundation for creating engaging content for your target audience.

1. Know Your Audience

Effective storytelling begins with understanding your audience. Start by building an audience persona profile so you know exactly who you’re writing for. Here are four common buyer persona segmentations:

  • Demographics: Industry, job function, company size, location, age, gender
  • Psychographics: Interests, values, lifestyle, business goals
  • Media consumption: Where do they get information? What kind of content do they consume?
  • Buying behaviors: What are their buying habits? What influences their purchasing decisions? How long is their buying cycle?

Defining this information will empower you to draft a relevant, relatable, captivating story for your target audience.

2. Write Like You Talk

The last thing readers want is content that’s too formal or feels patronizing. Write how you speak.

Writing styles have shifted. Formal writing is a thing of the past, with content exceptions like technical reports, legal documents and academics. Yet, conversational writing continues to trend among audiences of all ages.

Conversational writing gives you more freedom to engage your readers. Formal writing always talks at you, whereas conversational writing talks with you. Invite your readers into your story by using a conversational style with active, direct and engaging language. Writing like a conversation makes your copy more authentic, approachable and easier to understand and digest.

3. Use the KISS Method

Keep your language simple and to the point. As a professor of mine once said — Keep It Super Simple.

A good rule of thumb is to write at an eighth-grade reading level. Keep your sentences short, scannable and easy to digest. Ensure each word in your sentences has meaning for maximum impact. However, depending on where your content lives or its topic, consider adjusting the reading level up or down to better connect with your audience. Published or print work has higher reading levels, while online content is simpler as readers tend to scan.

4. Embrace AI Writing Tools

Artificial intelligence (AI) makes content creation quicker, no question. Some of the best business writers embrace AI as a writing assistant to help draft content and create captivating stories. ChatGPT, Gemini, CoPilot and Claude.ai are just a handful of online AI writing tools to assist with outlines, summaries and competitor research.

AI editing tools like Grammarly, Hemmingway Editor, Wordtune and Microsoft Editor can also strengthen your writing. These tools check for grammar accuracy, offer rewording suggestions to help with delivery and clarity and even check for plagiarism.

5. Make the Reader Take Action

Don’t forget a call to action (CTA). This is often easily missed. When drafting content, convey the action you want your reader to take and be clear. Using urgency or conveying value is also beneficial. Here are five different types of CTAs:

  • Lead generation: Capture audience data to build your sales pipeline.
  • Sales: Encourage readers to move further down the sales funnel.
  • Engagement: Increase interaction and build relationships with your audience.
  • Action: Motivate readers to do something specific.
  • Consideration: Encourage readers to explore more before making a decision.

Wherever you are in your writing career, it never hurts to go back to the basics. And, above all, make sure your audience leaves knowing what you expect of them through a call to action.

Heather  Campisi

Heather Campisi

Heather Campisi, PCM®, CDMP, is the director of communications at Withum, leading external and internal communications strategies. She can be reached at hcampisi@withum.com.

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