How has technology changed the way we tell stories? What are the benefits?

It may seem like technology has changed the way we tell stories, but it’s really taken us back in time. We’ve all seen the memes comparing emojis to hieroglyphs. And I can’t help but picture my mom as a child sitting in front of the radio listening to her favorite program when I listen to a fiction podcast on my way to work. Ah, but there’s the difference. Technology allows us to engage with stories anywhere and any time. On our way to work. At the gym. In the bathroom. (Don’t.)

Is storytelling becoming harder because the audience is inundated with messages and content? Do you think storytelling has become even more important to stand out?

Here’s the thing. To stand out in a sea of stories, and in an increasingly negative world, your message needs to be creative. I think fun breaks through right now. I love that Twitter, or social media in general, has become a literary genre. I’m not talking “fake news” or how your neighbor ceaselessly posts about her beautiful, angelic children (even though you know they were trying to start your dog on fire while she was drinking white zin and trying to figure out who to one-up on Facebook).

I’m talking about real pieces of fiction happening 140 characters at a time. Authors are grabbing attention within a sentence or two and keeping audiences following their stories, tiny bits at a time. You have to be good to pull that off.

And stories aren’t just words. They’re pictures. Here, where everyone and everything is filtered and altered to perfection (yes, even when they use #nofilter), I think authenticity stands out. Letting an image tell a real story cuts through.

I also think we need to start considering how sound can tell stories. Obviously podcasts and online radio give us opportunities to tell stories through programs, songs and ads. But now we can use sonic logos. What sounds make people think of your brand or your message? Brands are no longer flat. They have personalities. They can make sounds!

On a similar note, how has the introduction of new technology and platforms changed your approach to writing? How do you balance the changes in how people talk/interact today with still providing a solid story?

This has been hard for me. I’m one of those people who loves diagramming sentences. (There are six of us.) I know how to use semicolons. (There are 19 of us.) But starting sentences with conjunctions? Using sentence fragments? What is happening? It’s called “conversational tone,” and it’s how you relate to people. I work this into my writing when it’s appropriate. (But I still use punctuation in text messages and have to Google when my kid sends me texts like “In class rn.” Like what does a nurse have to do with your history class?)

Here’s my plug for what I’d call “proper English”: Breaking the rules is most effective when you understand the rules. So, maybe learn to diagram a sentence. (I know you won’t. It’s okay. Kind of.)

Regardless of where the content will be shared, what do you feel is the most important thing when telling a story?

I guess this is where I can summarize everything. Here’s what I think is most important when telling a story:

  1. Know who you’re talking to and how they want to hear stories.
  2. Be creative.
  3. Be authentic!