Ken Burnett’s Tips for Great Stories

j0309629I’ve been reading — and rereading — Ken Burnett’s indispensable guide to writing for nonprofits, Storytelling Can Change the World, for an upcoming article in Advancing Philanthropy (you can read my interview with Ken on relationship fundraising in the Spring 2016 issue here.) As a writer, I’m always looking for ways to improve my craft. Ken’s book includes a useful list of questions that every writer should ask before they start writing their story:

  • Is it about the reader, rather than about your cause, case, objective, or, heaven forbid, organization?
  • Is it interesting, surprising, unexpected?
  • Is it believable? Real? Accessible?
  • Is it a good, gripping story? One person, talking to another?
  • Is it simple, visual, memorable, and friendly?
  • Does it truly grab the emotions?

I’m going to print these out and put them over my monitor so that I can review them whenever I’m about to start writing a client’s story. You might want to do the same!

Author: Paul Lagasse

Paul Lagasse provides expert-to-expert communications services to nonprofit, business, and government clients in the metro Baltimore-DC area. Specialties include science and medical writing, technical report editing, and content marketing.