Category Podcast

CORONA – and how writing helped me escape the panic

Everybody’s talking about the pandemic, but I want to talk to you about it in a whole different way.

Hi, I’m Diana, and this is Story Artist.

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started, my whole insides exploded with emotions that were changing hourly. I was anxious. I was furious. I was excited. I was positive. I was sad and crying. And all of these emotions, they sent me into an emotional roller coaster. I was kind of addicted to the news, not knowing what to do and how to proceed.

It hit me when I sat down to write my next novel, stared at the blank screen, and was unable to write. These emotions have driven me to writer’s block. If you’re a creative or a writer or whatever you’re trying to accomplish, I feel like, in this time, it’s more important than ever to create, but it’s harder than ever because all of these emotions, all of these thoughts and anxieties, are paralyzing us.

That’s what I realized: I was paralyzed by this whole pandemic. And I decided that I don’t want to continue this way. I started to intentionally implement three steps in order to become creative again, in order to become a writer again.

Despite the fact that my surroundings were different, I wanted to create and I wanted to continue writing. And I hope this will be helpful for you because actually what writing did for me in this period of time – it helped me deal with the fear. It helped me deal with anxiety and it helped me gain a positive mindset back and get my life under control again.

First off, I built a cocoon around myself.

Many people might think it’s naive. Many people might think that it’s even arrogant. But I don’t care. Because I was addicted to the news. I consumed everything. I read newspapers, articles online. I watched the news hourly because I wanted to know: what’s the current development in this crisis?

But all it did to me is make me miserable. It made me anxious. And I normally don’t watch the news as often because I feel like the news is always there making us depressive and they’re making us anxious. It’s important to stay informed. But I think it’s important to stay informed on your own terms.

And I felt like the news was just taking over my life and I didn’t want that anymore. I stopped consuming the news. It was hard. It was tough because you’re kind of addicted and you want to know: what’s going to happen?

You need to stop watching the news.

And I also stopped talking to people that were panicky. People who were miserable all the time because I felt like their outlook on this whole thing just infected me. I only go grocery shopping as often as needed. I try to get out into the grocery stores less because of the people there.

The way they’re acting is really disappointing. The anxiety in their eyes, the panic, the way it manifests because they’re starting to become aggressive and all of this stuff is just pulling me down. I decided I don’t go grocery shopping unless it’s really necessary. And I really cocooned myself and I only consume the information that I think gets me further because there is nothing I can do about this news. It only makes me anxious, but it doesn’t help me to get on with life and to make any progress at all. I read The Good News Network. It’s amazing. It’s still informative, but it gives you the good news, not the crushing ones.

I talk to people that are positive about it. I listen to podcasts from empowered creatives and I only consume the stuff that I think is helpful for me to make progress. Everything else I block out. And this one step really helped me a lot to get away from this whole Corona panic madness.

Number two, I channel my emotions and experiences into writing ideas.

This is really been a breakthrough for me because I took all of these emotions, all of these experiences that bother me, and wrote it down.

I have a swipe file for ideas for the next novel, short stories aso., and I just started filling the swipe file with emotions, with experiences, with short scenes and dialogues that I have experienced.

This really helped me. Having all of these emotions inside of you, not getting them out destroys you from the inside. It eats you like acid. Getting them out is not helpful either because you poison the other people around you. If you talk to people about the negative emotions, you feel the disappointment you have, the anger you have.

What I do instead – I write it down. And I try to transform it into writing ideas. It’s really easy for me because I’m a dystopian writer. It’s like a dystopian candy store for me because I can pick from the experiences that I have right now.

Whatever you’re feeling, write it down. Free write in the morning for half an hour, just sit down, write down all of the emotions. It’s not in vain because you can use them for ideas and it also helps you get out all the negativity and the anxiety and channel it into something useful.

While you write, it helps you come up with a positive side and a solution.

And number three, I continue to serve.

I continue to write books. I continue to write more books. I produce more content, videos, helpful stuff, freebies.

I continue to serve my readers. I continue to serve my customers in a more efficient way. I try to build them up instead of pulling them down in this difficult time. And I think it’s so important that we continue to serve because by serving, we actually feel more connected in this pandemic.

Because I feel like in this day of age, people get separated. I don’t know how it’s in your country, but in Germany, you have to keep like at least 1,5-2 meters distance from each other, if you’re in the supermarket or any public space. People stopped smiling at you. Either with masks or without, they look at you with fear and anxiety. It’s so rare that people smile at you. It really hits me hard and it feels really depressing. I feel like we’re moving apart from each other as a community, as a society.

I want to stay connected to people and I want to continue to serve. And I don’t want to contribute to the panic. I want to build hope. More than ever, we see how stories build our society, how the stories media tells us shape the people around us in an instant. It happened in one or two weeks and people just shifted completely.

Many shifted their mindsets and their behavior because of a story they were told. And I’m not saying that the media is lying. But there are different ways you can frame a story. You can tell a story in a hopeful way, you can tell a story in a dooming way. That’s why I’m saying, subscribe to the good news network because it’s telling true stories as well, but it’s telling them from a completely different angle.

Especially in this day of age, we need more storytellers that tell helpful stories, that tell stories that build people up, that bring people together. We see how important stories are and how important ideas are and that they need to be spread.

And as digital entrepreneurs and authors and storytellers, it’s such a privilege to have at least some sphere of influence and try to push against this negativity in the media and tell another story and a more hopeful story. I just want to challenge you to tell more stories that are hopeful in this time, to tell more stories that serve other people and build them up rather than pull them down.

We see how important it is to be a digital entrepreneur, an author because we still have control over our businesses. We still can work, we still can produce, and we can sell, and we can influence people in many ways that others can’t because they lost their jobs.

Many will be thinking about moving their businesses and their lives online right now. Serve online, tell good stories, and try to serve in your local community as well. So what I’m trying to do is to help the people around me.

I’m trying to be joyful and friendly, even if I’m in the supermarket and someone yells at me and tells me to stay away. I’m just trying to be positive and joyful and spread hope and spread goodness rather than panic. And I think it’s important that we do that as well in our personal lives and our online lives in.

We’re all telling stories. Even if you’re not an author, you’re telling a story in what you’re posting on YouTube, on Instagram, on Twitter. Let’s tell good stories. Let’s tell stories that give people hope and build them up and bring them together.

Learn to tell good stories as well because storytelling is a craft that can be mastered and used to build our society up.

Stay safe, stay strong, and stay creative in this special time.

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What creatives need to know about fitness – with Dr. Darian Parker PhD

Welcome to another episode of the Story Artist podcast, and this is actually a special episode or an “inbetweeniesode” as I like to call them because it’s not a regular episode where I will tell you something about storytelling, and this is also not an episode that goes out on YouTube in video, but it’s an interview.

And I decided to do some interviews over the course of this year to talk about different topics and get to know new people from all the different industries. I have some amazing guests for you, a guests who will talk about investment and money, about editing and writing.

And today we have Dr. Darian Parker who will talk to you about exercise, fitness, and sports. And I think it’s an amazing episode, especially for the beginning of the year, because at this time we’re really motivated to do something. I just want to encourage you to stay motivated throughout the whole year.

This is why I decided to release this episode at the beginning of the year. Because I think we can channel this motivational energy, this starting energy, and turn it into something bigger. It turns into a habit that will last for us for a lifetime.

And everybody who’s already active and exercising, don’t skip this episode because I do fitness regularly three to four times a week. I lift weights for three or four years already, and I really do it regularly. Even when I became pregnant, I tried to stay active and lift weights during pregnancy and get back to it as soon as I could, as soon as my health allowed it.

And I still gained so much from this episode. It motivated me to push myself in the gym to get better, to do better. And it helped me to understand on a deeper level what exercise and sports do to our mind as creatives and how important it is. And it gave me the motivation to stay focused on exercise.

Even if sometimes it feels like I have to do so much, I have to write, I have to meet my deadlines, and I cannot exercise, but it’s so important and we have to prioritize it in order for us to feel good, to be more creative, to be more productive.

And I hope you enjoy this episode. Please don’t forget to rate the show on the app you’re listening to it. It will really help us spread the news about the show. If you like it, if you enjoy it, leave an honest review.

And now let’s jump straight into the interview.

Dr. Darian Parker has a Ph.D. in sports education leadership, is also a certified personal trainer in the fitness and wellness business for 18 years. While business is very important, what’s even more important is the human being behind the business, which I really love. 

Darian is also the host of Dr. D’s Social Network, a podcast on free form conversations about health, wellness, fitness, psychology, beer, social media and everything in between.



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How to make your reader furious


Principle #7 – The Power of Storytelling

Let’s talk about the spinning top.

It’s spinning and spinning and the audience, we’re waiting for it to fall over. And then – cut to black.

I mean… Are you kidding me? I want to know if it falls over or not. And we’re all rooting for it to fall over, but we will never know. Enraged, furious, discussing and rewatching the movie, again and again, to find out if he is in a dream or not.

I’m talking about Inception of course, and I hope you’ve seen it. If not, go ahead and do that. And I mean, is it a stroke of genius or was it a mistake to use the cliffhanger? And is a cliffhanger even worth it using it at the end of the story? Let’s find out in this new episode.

Hi, I’m Diana, and this is Story Artist.

You’re probably familiar with the term, but let’s still define cliffhanger. It’s supposed to come from a serialized version of Tom Hardy’s book where one of his protagonists is literally left hanging on the cliff at the end of the story. So what does it mean? It means that you never give an answer to a matter of life and death.

You never fully release the tension. You never fully give answers to the questions raised in your story. And is it a good idea to do so? How can you use this tool? Because this tool can be quite powerful. But how can you use it in order to be effective?

Recently the final season of The Man In The High Castle was released and it got quite bad reviews because it was left hanging on a cliff. It has a cliffhanger as an ending in the final episode, where the people would walk through the portal and it’s like: Where are they coming from? They’re coming from everywhere. Who are these people? What’s everywhere? We don’t know, and we’re left hanging on a cliff.

It can be quite a difficult question. So today we’re going to discuss the why, the when, and the how of the cliffhanger, because it’s quite a powerful tool in the storytelling arsenal if you know how to use it right.

Why a Cliffhanger?

Let’s talk about the why first.

Why end on a cliffhanger? The obvious reason is to raise tension and to leave the reader anticipating more. And it makes absolute sense.

If you are stopping with a cliffhanger in the middle of your story or at the end of an episode or at the end of a serialized book or at the end of a chapter, for example – we are going to talk about it more in-depth in the WHEN section. So the why is to raise tension, to build anticipation and to leave your reader wanting more so that they cannot stop reading or watching or whatever medium you’re walking on.

But they cannot stop. And they cannot go out of your story because you leave them hanging with tension. If you end on a cliffhanger and the story is over, it’s obviously to provoke discussion. So why did Nolan do that? He did it because he wanted to end the story on something that would provoke discussions. And it definitely did.

I mean, Nolan’s kind of, he likes those cliffhanger endings. He did the same in Memento  and it provoked discussions. I mean, everybody who’s watched inception can discuss endless hours about whether he was in a dream or not and bring arguments. And it might be a stroke of genius if you do it right.

But with The Man In The High Castle, the cliffhanger was more of a confusing moment rather than something: is it? Or is it not? And this is something of that R. L. Stine says. We’re going to talk about it in the HOW section, but just for now, the WHY is to provoke discussions and to leave your reader wanting more, even if the story’s over.

When to use a Cliffhanger?

So let’s talk about when to end on a cliffhanger.

The best use for ending on a cliffhanger is inside your story. So, for example, at the end of a chapter, at the end of a paragraph, or if it’s a serialized fiction piece at the end of every episode, every series.

You can also use this amazing tool with content marketing, and with emailing, for example. If you end an email like this or, but then the next email is to come, obviously in a couple of days and a couple of the next days. Or you can end, let’s say with a blog post, if you normally divide your blog posts into sections, or you have a series of blog posts. But let’s talk about one first.

When you divide it into sections, it’s good to end with a cliffhanger. By the ending of a section, when you go into the next one when you have like 5 hacks to lead a more productive life, and then by the end of the first half, you end with a cliffhanger and release the tension in the second or third hack for example.

This way you force the reader to go on reading because he wants to find out the answer to the question you’re raising. He wants to release the tension. You can do this with a blog post or at the ending of paragraphs and blog posts, emailing, YouTube videos, podcasts – if you want them to listen to the next podcast.

So with every piece of serialized fiction or in the middle of your story, it’s an amazing tool. By the end of your story, it’s quite tricky. But I like what R. L. Stine suggested with the cliffhanger ending. And he likes to do it because it obviously fits the genre. And this is one of the other very important examples: It has to fit the genre.

I don’t think that romance readers will appreciate if you end with a cliffhanger. I really don’t. I don’t think that historical movies or period pieces will appreciate a cliffhanger ending. Not so much. It has to be science fiction. It has to be horror. It has to be something that is quite supernatural or fits into that niche because the genre does kind of expect that.

But you have to be careful about this. This is why the ending of  Chris Nolan’s film works better than The Man In The High Castle. First of all, because The Man In The High Castle’s ending is a serialized  TV piece with several seasons. I don’t think it’s a good way to do that because you had the readers or the audience invested into that for such a long time, and you really want to answer all those questions and you really want to bring those character arcs to a satisfying ending.

And the problem with The Man In The High Castle is that it was not only a cliffhanger, but it was really, really confusing. So what you want to do instead, let’s get back to R. L. Stein’s trick, you answer all those questions, you bring it to a satisfying ending. And in the very end, when the reader thinks everything’s fine, you raise the question: Or is it?

And this is the thing that Chris Nolan did. So he brought everything to a satisfying ending, and we have this amazing of Cobb, he returns home to his kids. And then you have this spinning top. And he asks: Or is it?

So this is an amazing device if you want to end on the cliffhanger. But be aware if you do that, you might raise a lot of discussions and you might scare off readers who actually wanted to see a happy ending for your character, or at least a satisfying one. One where all of the questions are answered.

How to use a Cliffhanger?

Let’s talk about the how.

So there’re actually only two possible scenarios for ending on a Cliffhanger or bringing in a cliffhanger, and it’s:

– Some new information enters the scene, and that raises a question your reader needs to have answered

– the character gets into a situation where you don’t know how he’s gone and get out of it, because it’s quite tricky and it might be a matter of life and death, but it doesn’t have to be, it just has to be tricky and it just has to fit the context of the story in order to raise this question: how the heck is he or she going to get out there?

Now, let me introduce the open-loop technique. I heard about it in a Andrew Chaperone’s from tiny little businesses email course, and it’s quite simple. But it kind of blew me away.

And the open loop is the technique of when you raise a question, introduce something, you raise some new information, and then you move on to something else.

And there is like: What? I need this answered. Why isn’t he answering it? Where’s the answer? And you have to read.

For example, for this course, it was about email. So if you raise this question about something new and then you move on, the reader has to read the next email because his brain won’t let him do otherwise.

He has to finish the thought. He has to answer the question.

Let me give you an example. If in an email you say: I know one amazing secret of success that will turn every reader into a fan. But then I move on, talking about something else, about productivity, blah, blah, blah. Or I say: Let’s talk about it in the next meal. First I want to tell you this.

You’re like: What? Okay, I need to find out the secret. What is this amazing secret?

Or if you’re talking about fitness, I have an amazing diet that will blow you away and you will lose, I dunno how many pounds in how many weeks, but something that really works. But I’ll talk to you about it in the next section. First, let’s explore healthy living. You’re like: What? Okay, this is a cliffhanger and I need to know that. So I’m going to keep reading. I’m gonna keep reading the next section, paragraph, the next email in order to find out.

And this is an amazing technique, both for fiction and nonfiction as well.  So you can introduce it in fiction, too.

You can bring up some new information or some new person, and then move on to the next chapter, to another POV, for example, or you have something else happening that prevents this question from resolving right now. They’re starting to talk and the main character says, okay, I have this new information. Have you heard about that? And before they can start talking about it, something happens and they have to flee, blah, blah, blah, and you need to know: What was he talking about? I need to resolve this. I need to find the answer to this question.

And this is an amazing tool, an open loop, be it in fiction, be it in nonfiction.

So a cliffhanger is all about raising intention and about creating a sense of urgency. And this sense of urgency has to prevail in every piece of content. Fiction, nonfiction, blog posts, marketing, sales, speech even.

You can use cliffhangers in sales pages in order for your reader to finish your sales page. You can use it to really strategically open a new loop and then finish the loop at the end of your sales page. Or if your reader is asked to click somewhere in order to find out.

But make sure that you find a plausible reason to withhold this information from your reader. Because if your reader feels teased, if he has the impression I’m just getting teased here and it’s no fun. He’s just withholding this information for no reason at all. He will feel cheated.

Instead bring in something new, some new information. For example: , I’m going to tell you this secret of how to turn readers into superfans, but first, you need to understand this and this principle in order to understand the secret.

Okay, this makes sense, you tease him but then you have to explain this principle. And I don’t feel cheated because I feel like, okay, if I need to understand this first, I’m going to read this first in order to find out.

The same with fiction. Bring in some plausible reasons, not just, okay, I have this piece of information, but I’m not going to tell you right now. Why not?

And you have to create this sense of urgency with every piece of content. Because, in this day of age, people don’t really finish reading content. And I know from myself, like when I watch YouTube videos, I’m just scrolling forward.

I’m just doing something parallelly. Like I’m listening to that. I’m working on that. I’m commuting. And our attention is always on demand, and we are battling for the attention of our readers. So a cliffhanger is a huge, huge thing. It’s an amazing tool. It’s an amazing weapon in the battle for the attention of your reader.

So be sure to use it right. Be sure to use it in order not to disappoint your reader and make him furious and angry. But to raise tension, create a sense of urgency and then move him along the story. It’s really important to not reveal everything at once. If you do this, you have lost.

For example, if you have a blog posts and blog posts, and you have subdividing titles, don’t reveal everything in the title. Why should I read the section if you said everything in the subtitle? Make the subtitle instead a cliffhanger. Something that leaves the reader hanging, and he’s like: okay, I need to read the section in order to understand the subtitle in order to have this question answered that you as the author raise in the subtitle. And this is a mistake. Many, many authors make.

The same with email. The same with storytelling. Don’t try to squeeze exposition, explanation, information into huge blocks. Instead raise questions and answer them as the story’s progressing and make sure that there’s always one or several questions that are creating this sense of tension and urgency in your story. If there are no questions hanging in the air, there’s no real reason to finish reading your story.

You have to make sure there is always one or several questions hanging in there. And once you answer one, because we need it in this very moment in your story, make sure to raise another one. And bring it to the very end of your story. You can end with a cliffhanger if it fits your audience, but the cliffhanger is most powerful when used inside the story in order to bring your reader through the story as it is progressing.

There’s one huge mistake that many authors and writers and bloggers make that cost them a lot of readers, literally losing readers. And they could fix this mistake really easily. What it is and how to do this, I’m going to tell you in the next episode. Yeah, it was an open loop, but you will get the answer to the cliffhanger in the next episode.

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Why your story is boring


Principle #6 – The Power of Storytelling

Boring second act. 
This has become a cliche, but why exactly can the middle of your story especially become boring and how can you beat second act problems forever? 

Hi, I’m Diana, and this is Story Artist.

Welcome to another episode of the Story Artist Podcast, and we will be discussing principle number six of the Power of Storytelling series, and I hope you’re excited because many authors are afraid of the middle. And there’s really no reason to be, because if you can grasp the power of this principle and the simplicity of it at the same time, you will never again have problems with the dragging and boring middle – be it in novels or short stories. Even in emails where you’re afraid that people just skim over the middle of your email and never read the whole of it, and so will never understand the ending. Which technique is this powerful technique and the simple technique to beat second act problems?

This is the Turning Point.

Let’s define turning point first: A turning point is a time at which an important change takes place which affects the future of a person or a thing.

A Turning Point is an important change. So something has to change, and it has to be important. It has to have an irreversible effect on the future of a thing or a person. This is what it’s all about.
The turning point is about an important and irreversible change.

What are the big five?

Especially in the three act structure, we have the big five turning points that have to happen in order for the story not to become boring. But you can actually use the big five technique for every aspect of your story writing.
Of course, if it’s a very short piece of writing, you cannot bring in five turning points in. That’s obvious. But you can still work with one or two or three of them.

But let’s discuss the big five that are classically embedded into the three act structure and see what they’re all about. You can use one of those and or use several of those and integrate them into every piece of content you do. Be it email, be it even a sales page, for example. Throughout the sales page you can work with those big five turning points, considering your reader as the hero that you take through this structure.

Let’s look at those big five turning points.

#1 The inciting incident.

It occurs roughly around the 10% mark of a story, and it sets stuff into motion.

It’s still not like the big, big turning point that is to come as the second one. It’s only something that comes before the turning point to keep your reader invested into the story, to hint to this main conflict. But it’s actually only a hint to the main conflict and brings in some new information or some change or some event that will get you here, towards where you want him to go to this second turning point we will talk about just right now.

It’s one of the smaller turning points of all those big five because the next one is actually one of the biggest and the greatest turning points ever, and it’s number two.

#2 First main Turning Point

The first huge turning point of your story and it occurs around the 25% mark of the story. It’s all about setting things into motion.

This is also called the point of no return. 

So something happens and new information or a decision or whatever it is that happens that sets things into motion and introduces the main conflict and sets off your hero’s new journey that he cannot go back to.

And it marks also the end of the first act and the beginning of the second act. Or some people like to talk in four parts, not three acts. And it marks the ending of the first part of your story. Because in the first part we are in the ordinary world. We are talking about the ordinary life of your hero. And here at the 25% mark approximately, we have this turning point, this change that is the point of no return.

It changes everything. And the reader or the hero or whoever the hero of your story is, cannot go back to the ordinary life because something has changed and has set things into motion, has introduced this main conflict and brought your hero on this path, on this journey that he has to go right now. And this turning point is the main turning point.

That is the trigger, the main trigger for your whole story because if you look at how long the parts are, the second act is actually the longest act.

#3 Midpoint

And in order for it to get interesting and to become interesting, you need the third turning point that occurs roughly around the 50% Mark of his story directly in the middle of your story.
You need to have a turning point that is surprising and that turns your story yet around yet into another direction, introduces something new, something unexpected. And if you have this turning point, your story will not get boring.

The problem with the second act is that there is no turning point.

People are just moving, something’s happening, but nothing turns the story around. And it’s quite difficult because with the turning point before, the second one that we just talked about, you set things into motion. You say, okay, this is the path and my hero has to go this path. And so to introduce yet another turning point in the middle of the story means we’ll have to get him from this path that you set him on.

This turning point is so important because it changes the way your hero looks at things. Consider it like this: so the first part, or the first act of your story is the ordinary world. The normal life. The second one, the second part,  everything that comes before the 50% mark is the passive reaction of your hero. He’s just reacting to people or circumstances or whatever is doing to him.

So this major thing happened that set him off on this path, but he still wants to go back. He still wants to go back home. To his normal life. And he’s just reacting. But at this 50% mark, something has to happen that sets him off to be an active part, to take matters into his hands.

And I think this is why also many stories fail. Because in the end, we need an active hero, but he never reaches this point of where something happens that changes his outlook on this whole story where he says: okay, I’m going to act, I’m going to do this. Where he has this motivation to act.

Most of the time we never have this thing occur or it’s not organic. It just happens, but it’s not a major thing that we understand: okay, that’s his motivation for going from passive to active. So you need this turning point in order to get your hero from passive to active. And the same goes for when you’re copywriting a sales page or when you start writing a series of emails.

You need something to happen or you present the reader was a new information or with something new that gets him from being passive and just listening to you and being maybe a little invested into your concept to: wow, okay. I want this! I want to be active. I want to do something. I want to be proactive with this, and I want to know how to do this.

And if you can manage this, it’s a huge thing. But don’t forget, this is not how the story ends. And I think this is a problem with many marketers, the end of the story with: okay, when the reader goes, okay, I want this. And this is where they end. But this is not the end of your story. There are still two more turning points to come.

#4 Lowest Point

And number four is roughly at the 75% mark of his story. And this turning point also marks the lowest point of your hero. So you went from being passive to being active, and he’s actually quiet and motivated and you think, okay, he’s going to do this. And then something happens that gradually, one by one, up to this terrible turning point, brings him to his knees.

And why do we do this? Because we need an emotional high to have an emotional low and the other way around. If you want this emotional highs to arise in your reader, if you want them to be glad, if you want them to have this tension, you need to introduce highs and lows.
This is what we talked about actually in the last episode and the principle number five: Pacing. If you haven’t seen it, go back and look at it. It’s also really, really helpful in order to understand emotional highs and lows.

And this is why I need this turning point where you bring your hero to his knees and showing him, okay, but everything is still bad and you want the reader to be asking: how’s he going to get out of here? It’s impossible. This is like the worst thing that could have happened to him and you don’t expect that, right? So you think, okay, right in the middle, he’s like the hero and he wants to go, and this is where the real adversity comes into place. This is where, when he’s motivated and wants to take matters into his own hands, you bring up the real adversity.

And guess what?  With sales and with a sales page, for example, when you have this reader and he’s motivated, and he wants to take matters into his own hands, if you don’t bring up this adversity and this turning point, something else will.

So if you want somebody to buy your course and you’ve got them to this point where they say: Okay, wow, I want to have this; I want to do this; I want to buy this – something will come up that will, that they will face adversity, be it financial reasons, be it their spouse saying: oh no, we can’t afford this; do you really need this, can’t you do it on your own? And stuff like that. So you have to think of the possible adversities and present the reader with them one by one, and ending with the worst one saying, okay, how are you going to get out of here? And this is where the tables turn and you present them with a solution.

#5 Climatic Turning Point

And this is where we go to the climax of the story, and point number five, turning point number five.
And I think this is where many people forget that there’s actually a turning point due at the very end. They just go with the climax and that’s fine. And the climax is the rising of the tension, if we talk about sales and marketing, the wish, the desire to get this product, to be involved in this course and so on.

But you have to bring in a turning point yet again to get the reader to the resolution of this. And this is a turning point where all the facts are on the table. There are no open questions. Everything is out into the open. Every question’s answered, and we’re just realizing we’re seeing the big picture.

This is where we finally, when we look back at the whole story, we realize, okay, this is how it’s been all along. And I finally understand that all the tension in this final turning point is resolved.

So what kind of changes can those turning points be?

This can be a new reveal off information. So some new information enters the stage and we realize okay, it has been different all along if it’s a detective story,  or a crime novel, you get new information from there and a whole new angle opens up to you. So this is mostly  something that especially happens in the very beginning. Those first turning points are those points where new information enters the scene.

The second one is the turning of events. It’s a very obvious one. So something happens that turns everything upside down. Somebody dies, or somebody falls in love or somebody is betrayed by another one. So like something happens, some action occurs, and  it turns everything for the main hero.

And a third one is a decision. So a turning point can also be a decision, definitely. It doesn’t have to be this major thing of death or betrayal. It can be a simple decision of your major character to say, okay, I’m going to do this. I’m going to do something that I’ve never done before and  go away from my ordinary world, my daily life, and try something new.

So a decision can also be a turning point, but it has to be, obviously, it has to be motivated. It just can’t come out of the blue. So you have to set up this decision. A turning point can also be a reveal of character. Those are actually quite interesting ones. So if you’re writing fiction specially, you can reveal the truth about some characters.

So someone we thought was a friend is in fact a foe or the other way around. Someone who we thought was an actually is somebody who’s helping us and can be our friend . And you can do the same thing with the sales, if you’re talking about like say some kind of products or some kind of stuff.

Like when let’s say you want to sell something that will help people be more prolific and be less distracted by technology. And first we think technology is the enemy. But in your argumentation, in your turning point, you say, you know what? Technology’s not the enemy, technology is neutral, and it depends on what you do with this. And it can also be your friend.

And it’s this kind of like a turning point where you start off with letting people think that something is like that, but then it’s completely different. And this is actually something that is reserved for the letter turning points in the climax and in the absolute low point, is the revelation of some deeper truth. Especially in theme, and we’re going to talk about theme later on with the principles, the revelation of a deeper truth is something that your hero understands in depth.

It’s some principle. It’s some system. And it’s actually I think also very important for sales that you let your reader and your customer understand some, some deeper truths, some principle you are building, everything you in your story, the story you’re telling, be it with your fiction, nonfiction, or sales.
Those are the things that we can use to create turning points in our stories. And I think this actually applies a lot to sales and marketing.

Don’t take your reader just there, but take them there with turning points.

Introduce turning points into your sales pages, into your book marketing strategy, your blog articles, your emails or email, your series of emails. Probably try to get away from this linear thinking. I think this is where we’re often stuck, especially when it comes to smaller things in content or to nonfiction and sales that we say, okay, I want to get my reader, my customer from A to B.

And that’s it.

We draw a straight line from A to B and we’re done. And this is why all of these things are actually sometimes so boring, and if you want to stick out from this, and if you want to do something different and get your reader through the middle of your sales page in the middle of your email, try to think in a nonlinear way. Try to think from, okay, I have A, I have B, and I want to get the reader, the customer from A to B, but I won’t do it in a leaner fashion.  I will go from a to B to C to D to F to E, and then I’ll go to B. And I think if you just switch this thinking a little of okay, I’m telling the story, I want to go from A to B.

Yes, but how do you go from A to B? Don’t go there in a linear fashion. Instead, introduce the big five, or if it’s a short content, two or three turning points and decide: Where do you going to introduce them? What kind of turning points they’re going to be? And how you can use them in order to still get your reader from A to B, but in a more interesting fashion.

And I hope this was helpful and I see you next time in the next episode. Thank you for listening and don’t forget to subscribe and to rate my show. If you’re listening on a podcast app or watching YouTube, please subscribe, please let me know in the comments if you’d like me to improve anything.
If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them. I see you next time.

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The 2 pillars of content creation – how to build an author career in 2020


There’s tons of content out there, and the content overwhelm is growing and competing for the audience’s attention. Books, podcasts, YouTube videos, blog posts, articles, and the new decade is bringing even more content. So is it still worth it being a content creator in 2020?

Hey, I’m Diana and this is Story Artist.

Hi. Welcome to this new episode in the new decade and I’m really excited to bring this to you. Today, I’m going to share with you the two pillars I’m building my author and content creator business on this year and the coming decade. I had a quite rough 2019 with ups and downs. My greatest achievement was to get back on track and finally get into my routine and start working with my little child, which was kind of a big thing for me because it’s my first one, and it’s a huge change in your life and I’m quite proud of it, but I still have so many more goals. 

And I was talking to you in the intro of this episode about the content overwhelm. And when I thought about this question, I thought about myself and how I look at content.

The thing is, yes, we are overwhelmed, but we filter the content through what we like. So there are tons of YouTube channels and videos out there, but I only subscribe to those that I enjoy and that I like, and I filter them. And those that bring me the best content and the most enjoyable and useful content, I stick to them for years and years.

And I think this is the key to becoming a content creator. Find your tribe, find your audience, and know what your audience wants. And if you know that, you can be a successful creator in this new decade. 

So let’s jump into those two pillars I will base my business on in this coming decade. And I will also talk to you about my goals and maybe it’s helpful for you. Maybe you can also have your own goals through that, I will talk to you about my achievements and everything that I think I can do better in this new year. Feel free to skip forward when I talk about my goals if you’re not interested in them. Just listen to the principles. I will talk to you about the principles first and then I will talk to you about how I want to apply those principles in my own business, and the practical goals in my own business. 

Let’s start with pillar number one. 

#1 Create regular and excellent content. 

This is really my priority number one. 

And when I think about the fact that there’s so much out there already, I get overwhelmed.

But the truth is that the market is still growing. It’s growing beyond the US and the UK because so many people in developing countries like India or other English speaking countries are having access to the internet right now through mobile phones, through mobile internet. So they’re only beginning to grasp what’s happening.

Here in Germany where I live, the self-publishing revolution is just starting. So what has happened in the US in 2012 is just happening right now in Germany, which is kind of crazy. So if you think about it, Amazon has just expanded its Amazon ad market into France and Germany and other European countries. You couldn’t put your ads in those countries before, which is crazy. So it means it’s just expanding. 

And over the next decade, the markets will get bigger and bigger and bigger, and we have to use that by bringing out more excellent content. 

And the second trend in this new decade is that authors are growing more and more empowered.

So if 10 years back, there was no real self-publishing and there were the gatekeepers who decided who will get published and who won’t, today, there’s nothing anymore to hold you back from publishing, so you can just go ahead and publish your stuff on Amazon and all the other distributors just like that.

I think actually Lee Child said in the conference that his career path, the way he made money being an author, is not possible anymore. So if you still stuck in this: I will get published and I will become the next Lee Child, the next Stephen King. I don’t think that this is a possibility anymore because the market is changing and there’s so much out there.

It’s like playing the lottery. It really is, but you have a real possibility because you are empowered and you can move on in your own terms, with your own rules. And it can be scary because you have to know the market. You have to know the rules to bend the rules. You have to work really hard, not only on story writing but on all the other stuff, on marketing, on publishing.

But it’s worth it because, in the end, you get to control what your author’s life looks like and how successful you are with your writing. And it can’t emphasize enough how important it is to bring out new content, not only just to bring out new content, but excellent content. To create an excellent backlist, to bring out new articles, new stuff into the world that is good. I think the days of like publishing an article daily, a short article just to publish and just to have this backlist, they are over. Because Google has changed its algorithm, Bird, into longtail keywords. And it will favor those articles that are longer, that are more in-depth, and that it thinks that they have more quality. 

So quality content is now on the rise. It is about quantity still, no doubt about it, but quality content is what counts now. Look into Google. Look into the long tail keywords because it’s all about how we search also with our language, with talking with audio.

Many people are searching on Google with Siri now. So they’re saying like: Siri, how to write a book? So the keyword with that is “how do I write a book”, a long keyword that sounds like speech. And this is what will be favorite in the future because audio search will rise and audio will rise more and more in the next decade.

So my goals are regularity. Definitely regularity because it was really hard for me to do that in the past year, and I hope I can accomplish that. And I want to bring to you one podcast episode a month, two articles per month, one article on my own blog and one on Medium or a guest blog. 

And I’m thinking about starting a Medium publication. 

I’m not sure about it yet, but I’m kind of excited about this idea and I might start writing a travel memoir and a little bit more fiction on this Medium publication. I’m not sure if it will bring me any readers, but it’s just something I want to do for me. And I want to try out. 

I just read in James Clear’s email – which is by the way, amazing, he always sends his email I think it’s on Wednesdays. And he said that you can only know if something works by trying it out. So just try things out, do trial and error and those things where you see that they’re working – double down on them. And this is what I actually kind of want to do with this publication.

I just want to see if it’s gonna work, how people receive it. If it’s not working, I can just stop. But if it’s working. I might really enjoy it. I want to double down on my email marketing. I want to send regular emails to my fiction list and my nonfiction list. And I also want to publish two books to see are two fiction books.

I’m really excited about that because I’m finishing my trilogy, finally, and want to start a new series. And that the story writing idea for the series has been lingering inside of me for years already, so I can’t wait to get started on that as well. And I really want to finish my trilogy. I finished the rough draft by the end of the year, the first draft.

And I love the editing stage, so I’m so excited to start editing and to start polishing, and I will Polish all of those three books to make it a good, solid trilogy that I can market now, and start with my new series. 

Thinking about writing a nonfiction book maybe, thinking about it for years already, but I’ve never done it. It will be about storytelling, obviously, and I’m wondering, yeah, does the world really need another storytelling nonfiction book? But I think what’s been missing out there is: How storytelling can change our lives; how we can use storytelling for ourselves; how we can use storytelling to change our lives and lives of the people around us.

This is something that’s really on my heart. And I really want to emphasize again, the importance of storytelling. Maybe something like that, but I’m still not sure about that. 

And I want to create more bonus material for my two courses that I created last year which I’m really proud of. I want to give more bonus material, market those courses more, create excellent content for those who have bought them already.

And I really want to improve my writing and copywriting. I already bought, bought two storytelling books, two writing craft books, and I’m watching Masterclass and I love the classes in Masterclass from other writers and directors. I really want to improve because I saw in the last year I improved a lot through learning and practicing, writing irregularly and learning.

And it helped me and I want to keep doing that and I’m going to keep improving my language, my writing craft, and getting better in what I do. 

#2 Reach more new readers. 

So traffic has been a huge issue for me. 

Last year I built a lot on my plot platform, so I did a new website design, improved my email marketing, did two courses, blog posts. But the traffic has been missing. 

So this year, I really want to double down on getting new readers, getting more subscribers, getting more traffic. And I think the readers are out there. There are still people and you only need to find your 1000 true fans, and they’re out there.

So I’m going to keep searching for them and I want to meet my readers where they are and focus on all the platforms. So, I still am an advocate like Joanna Penn for going wide with your books because I want to reach a lot of readers, not only those who are on Amazon. And I want to reach them where they are, and I want to have several streams of income from several mediums.

I wanna do audio. I want to do video because I know that there are people out there who want to watch YouTube, and there are people out there who want to listen to audio, people who want to read blog posts. So wherever my readers are and whatever they need, I want to give it to them. I want to serve them with my content.

And this is why I’m going wide on all the platforms – to reach the readers. And now let’s look at the trends in this new decade, in this new year. 

So there’s the global reading growth, like I said before, in pillar number one as well. People from all the countries outside the US and UK starting to read digitally and especially on the Google and Android platform.

So if you’re not on Google with your books and your content, you should be. You should definitely be on Google and be available for those people who don’t have an iPhone and don’t have a Macbook. And the trend is also to decentralize and distribute wide. 

And I know that there are people who still depended on Amazon. It’s absolutely your choice, but I’m an advocate for going wide just because you never know what happens to Amazon and if they change their algorithm. And you don’t want to depend on one platform. This is why I also think, or I don’t want to be a YouTuber and just depend on YouTube for my income. I want to be someone who’s not dependent because I’m an independent author and I don’t want to be dependent on any platform.

I want to learn from them. I want to deliver to those platforms, but I want my income to be from several different sources. And serve the platforms and go wide with my distribution. 

And obviously, audio and video will grow even more and more so become a master of both of them or one or two of them. If you don’t like video, I know that many authors don’t like video, but I myself as am someone who studied film, I’m actually quite excited about the growth of video. I would love to do more with video than just sitting around here and telling stuff, but filming. But it’s just too complicated it for now. But I plan and I hope I can do that in the future, especially with traveling and so on.

And if you like audio, I know many authors prefer audio because it’s just something that – you feel freer, you don’t feel that observed. You can just focus on one of those if you want, and become a professional in those. 

So don’t think that if you’re doing audio or a video, you can get away with bad quality. Please. I know that there are authors doing videos out there and the quality is just so, so bad. Please don’t do this. Be a professional, become a professional. And do good quality content, not only with the content itself but with the format as well. And buy a solid microphone, they’re not that expensive.

Buy a good camera and, learn how to use this camera because a good camera won’t help you make an amazing image if you don’t know how to use it. So become a professional for one of those two mediums because it’s growing and this is how you can reach your readers and get more traffic.

Definitely, I think those authors and those content creators will thrive who know what the reader wants. Who meet them where they are, and who provide what the reader is looking for. 

So my goals for the coming year are keyword-friendly articles. I talked about the Google bird algorithm, and I want to go into those long keywords, searchable keywords, and also in-depth articles that are really qualitative and that are rich in information and that serve the readers in the best way. 

And also want to use Medium and, guest blogging as a means to gain your readers, see how it goes. And I want to double down on YouTube and learn about this platform in itself because I want to learn how to be more efficient on YouTube.

How to also know the YouTube algorithm, the YouTube keywords, and SEO and YouTube. So I want to really learn about this platform and how to get the most out of it. 

And once I’m finished with my trilogy, I really want to start aggressively attacking paid ads because I have been avoiding them for a long time. It’s quite complicated, but I thought it’s no use advertising and paying for ads before I finished my trilogy. So once it’s finished, I will start trying paid ads, Amazon, maybe Facebook and BookBub definitely, and start testing and start finding the best ways to use paid ads to gain a larger readership and sell more books.

And I know that audio is the new trend and I really dream of having my books in audio. But it’s quite expensive. So I’m not sure if I can do it this year. Maybe next year, we’ll see how it goes and how my business grows this year. I really do him about it, definitely do. And I know that Findaway Voices has a great deal for authors where you I think you pay 50 or 60% to the narrator, and then you have like a royalty share deal.

And I definitely want to do that, but it’s still too expensive for me. I have this dream of an audiobook and then definitely want to do it. But first I need to polish my trilogy, start doing paid ads and see how it goes. And maybe, if I’m successful, I can do also audiobooks this year, because I think this is where the trend is going.

Definitely, we need to have audiobooks. I will, if not this year, I will definitely do an audiobook or audiobooks in the coming years because this is a trend we need to understand and a train we need to jump on before it drives away, a wave we need to ride before it swallows us.

Don’t be afraid of the trends. My recommendation is: always know the trends. And I always listen to Joanna Penn and the creative Penn, her amazing podcast. And the Alliance of independent authors has a podcast as well. And I listened to that one where Joanna Penn and Orna Ross were talking about the new trends of the new decade and the new year. And it was really helpful for me to derive the trends that are relevant for me and for my business and to see how I can use them to my advantage. And this is what you should do. I help it helped you. I hope it gave you more ideas on how you can grow your business in your writing and your readership in this new year.

Don’t think that there’s too much content out there. There is, but if you have great content, your tribe will be there to read your content and to consume it. I think there are people out there who need your content still, who are still looking for someone just like you, to bring them what they need because everyone is unique and every individual is bringing something of their own self into their content. And people need it. And your 1000 true fans are out there, as are mine. And I think we can do this. 

And this is going to be an amazing, exciting decade to be a content creator because the possibilities are as big as they’ve never been before.

And it’s an exciting age to live in. I think it’s the best age to become a writer.

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How to keep the reader invested in your story

Principle #5 – The Power of Storytelling

Imagine a piece of music made up of one single flat note. Would you listen to it?

Hey, I’m Diana and this is Story Artist.

Many stories start out great, but then they transform into one single flat note. And they become boring and tedious because there are no emotional highs and lows in the story. And the mistake lies in the pacing.

So this is principle number six: how to keep your reader invested in the story.

Pacing is about balance. It’s about turning points. It’s about highs and lows in the emotions of the story, and also in the emotions of the reader. Instead of having one flat, boring line, how can you actually avoid this flat line with the reader? And how can you nail pacing?

#1 Plan your story’s, highs and lows.

If you’re an architect writer, then you have to nail this in the outline. Create an outline and pay attention that in this outline you have emotional highs and lows.

If you’re a discovery writer, you can do this in editing because you won’t nail it on the first try. Even with architecting, you cannot nail it on the first try. You will still have to edit this in terms of pacing as well. But with discovery writers, it’s actually even more important to nail this in the editing process.

So while you’re editing, pay attention to the fact of your emotional highs and lows and that they’re always there, and they never flatline.

Think about balance again. So what you can do, you can take a board or you can do it on your computer or wherever you feel comfortable and, draw a line that represents your story. You can actually try and see if you can represent it in a way that fits. Like every hundred words, you have like two, three centimeters or whatever. And then you write down the story that shows your highs and lows and flatlines of the emotions in your story. And if you do that, and if you draw this line, you can see the story. You can step back and see the story as a whole. And then you will see if you have moments, especially, maybe you have too many highs, maybe you have too many lows, maybe you just have a flat line for a very, very long time.

And with this, you can see whether you have a pacing balance or not.

This works was fiction, obviously, but it also works with nonfiction and marketing. So you can analyze every piece of content you do with this approach. You can analyze your email, you can analyze your sales page, you can analyze your nonfiction book, whatever you do, your YouTube video, even you can analyze it with the emotional balance and the emotional pacing.

#2 Divide your story into units.

Learn to think in units, be it scenes or be it smaller or larger parts. It depends on the length of your content and your story, but learn to think in units and divide and subdivide your story into these emotional units.

That’s why numbered lists are so helpful, and that’s why I love them and that’s why I use them with every single piece of content because they actually subdivide the story into units. Even in your reader’s mind. And that that helps them to have this pacing nailed in their mind as well.

You can of course, do it without lists.  You can do it  just with the content, but the lists are really helpful.

Now, let’s look at this video. I start out with a hook and a raised tension, and then I raise the tension even a little bit higher when I explaine the mistakes that can be done with that. And then I reveal the technique that I mean – okay, it’s the pacing. And whenever it the tension  falls. Then there’s a short flatline when I explain a little bit about this technique because there are no emotional ups or downs, but then I raise another question about it and this question is the technique.

Then we have the three  numbers that I present in this list. That are also emotionally with highs and lows. So I have number one. I tried to make my statements the titles of this number really interesting to raise the tension, or I try to raise the tension in the introduction of this. So the first sentence has raised the tension and then I let it flat line a little bit while I explain the technique more. And that with number two, I raise it again. And this is how the whole thing works.

So already with this YouTube video, in the beginning, I have three different units. I have the hook, the introduction, and then the leading up to the point number one. Then I have those three points. And then I have the ending.

And the ending can be both. It can be a release of tension. A resolution or it can be a BANG with a cliffhanger. When you raise the tension again, you decide which way you want to go with the ending.

So learn to divide every piece of content that you do in pacing units.

#3 Manipulate pacing with sentence structure.

In film, you can manipulate pacing by editing. So the faster the edit, the faster the pacing gets. Just look at the crazy editing pace of Mad Max and you’ll see what I mean, compared to a romantic comedy. And you’ll see how the speed of the editing really manipulates the pacing of the film.

And the same you can do with written content with sentence structure. So you can use short sentences, long sentences, a sub-clause as a comma, full stops, colons. It also depends on how you build those sentences. Like if you have a paragraph with only one short sentence, or if you have short sentences that follow each other up and so on, so you can manipulate it by sentence length, by punctuation and by the paragraph as well.

For example, a long sentence slows down the pacing, but a long sentence with commas and many words that follow up – something strong, mighty, powerful and so on – then you have them all in succession, it can also quicken the pacing. On the other hand, short sentences obviously make the pacing faster, but if you have one short sentence in a paragraph, it slows down to pacing and makes a statement.

So with every piece of content especially in story writing, you have to know your way around working with the length of sentences, the length of paragraphs and punctuation in order to achieve the pacing you want to achieve.

And this is the key. You need to know what you want to achieve with that. You need to know why you’re writing a short sentence or why you’re writing a longer sentence. You need to know how you want your pacing to be, where you want your emotional high and your emotional low to be in order to create this kind of pacing. So you have to plan for the sake of the story, not just because, but you have to know why you want this emotional high there and the emotional low there and why you want this flat line there.

Be really intentional about your pacing and this way you can influence the reader and this way you can keep them on the edge of their seat. Plan, structure and be intentional.

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How to make every word believable

Principle #4 – The Power of Storytelling

Don’t tell me the moon is shining. Show me the Glint of light on broken glass.

Hi, I’m Diana. And this is Story Artist.

This is a quote from Anton Chekhov, and it has been valid from the beginning of times for every writer. Now it’s especially popular in movies and theater but in every form of story writing, it’s still valid to create a believable story. And in order to create a believable story, we will talk about the principle number four, which is show don’t tell.

This principle is so powerful yet so difficult to grasp, especially for beginning authors. I see it all the time when I work with authors on screenplays. And actually writing screenplays and writing stage plays is an amazing tool to try and work on this principle: Show, don’t tell. Because writing stage plays, you can only write down what you can see with your eyes. So you can’t write down thoughts or feelings. And, um, if you’re not sure what this principle means or if you just want to clarify it right now, let’s look at some examples.

Rather than telling that your character’s angry, you could show it by describing that his face is flushing or his throat is tightening, that his voice is rising, and that he’s slamming his fist on the table.

Here’s another example:

Telling: It was late fall.
Showing: Leaves crunched beneath his feet.

Telling: When they embraced, she could tell he had been smoking and was scared.
Showing: When she wrapped her arms around him, the sweet staleness of tobacco enveloped her and he was shivering.

Why is this technique so powerful? Because by showing rather than telling, we make the reader create a mental image in his head, his mind. We create those mental images in his head. Actually, the reader’s mind is our canvas as the author, especially with written content. So by showing we make them create, imagine this image in their heads.

And also, doing is more powerful than telling. We believe actions more than we believe woods. You know the phrase: actions speak louder than words. For example, what would you believe more? The phrase “I love you”, or an actual selfless loving deed? Of course, we believe the deed more than we believe the words. And this is why showing rather than telling is so much more powerful.

So how can you master this technique?

This is actually something I tell my playwrights students all the time, and that I learned also from James Patterson and his masterclass, which is: you have to have a movie projector in your head. Basically, you have to be able to imagine this image and your head, you have to be able to write only what you can see. If you write a stage play, you can only write things that are visible for the spectator. You cannot write: he felt sad or he felt happy or whatever internal thing there is. Or things like:  he came back from a doctor’s exam. How would you know that if he just enters the stage? You don’t know.  You have to either tell it in dialogue or you have to, show it in something. You know, like him having a bandage or something.

And this is the point of it. You can only write what you see. You can only read something that you see in your inner internal movie projector. And this is the key to that.

And with this, we allow the reader to judge for himself. He can see the cues that we’re giving him and interpret from it for himself. And this way we’re not imposing judgment on them.

But how exactly you can use this technique in detail? We will see in the next three points.

#1 Use strong verbs.

Try to use action verbs and specified verbs, verbs like act, say, go, walk, nudge, and so on. Try to get rid of sensory verbs like: felt, smelled, thought and so on. You see what I mean?

Action verbs actually create a sense of movement. They create a sense of something being acted on, something of being actually done. In directing, we learned to work with action verbs when we try to give stage directions, which means an action verb or strong verb, something that an actor can do to another actor. So, attack, nudge, kick.  Even judge, although judge is kind of still a sensory verb, but something that can be actually done.

And this is really crucial. Try to, when you go through a piece of the written word, get rid of those sensory verbs and instead replace them with something that goes into action, into strength. And also try to use more specific words. Walk, talk, go, those are really general words and it’s fine if you use them, but try not to use them all the time and see if you can replace them with something that is more specific to indicate actually what has been done. Is it more positive, more negative, and so on.

#2 Get rid of adjectives and adverbs (especially those that describe feelings)

Happy, angry, sad, excited, frustrated, and so on.

In this book On Writing, Stephen King says: “With adverbs, the writer usually tells us he or she is afraid he/she isn’t expressing himself/herself clearly.”

But let’s also take another example: Dana walked slowly along the street. This is telling because slowly is this adverb. But what you can do instead is show that Dana walked along the street smelling the flowers, stopping to look at the sky and enjoy the view. And this way, you know that she walked slowly, but you’ve shown her walking slowly and not given,  the reader the judgment already that she walked slowly without describing it this way. The reader can find it out for himself that she walked slowly.

#3 Focus on action, reaction and body language.

For example, don’t say she’s a bad woman. Instead, show her kicking a small dog. This way, the reader will immediately understand and be convinced that she’s, in truth, a bad person. So allow the reader to make the judgment for himself.

Focus or see it as stage directions – something that somebody can do to another person. Something that can be shown. And trust the reader to interpret themselves the meaning of this thing that you want to show. Trust the reader to put two and two together himself and don’t overexplain the things that you show.

Instead, try to show them as if it was on stage, and so if you had this movie projector in your head.

Now, let’s look at how you can apply this technique for nonfiction and especially marketing.

If you want to sell a product, if you want to sell a book or you want the reader to take action, whatever action it is, you have to show them the results of this product. Not tell them. For example, don’t tell them how awesome this book is, or how awesome your courses are, and instead show them by showing them actual stats, actual results, and the most powerful technique of all: showing them the reviews.

So why are reviews so amazing? You know it, I know it, whenever we go to look at something to buy a book or do whatever, we heavily rely on the reviews. And actually the more reviews you have, the better. So try to collect reviews, try to collect positive reviews, honest, positive reviews. Do whatever you can to have reviews. Because honestly, how much more, how much stronger is it if you show actual reviews, have actual readers tell how amazing this book was, instead of you telling how the readers loved your book? Everybody can say that, but the actual reviews, the actual showing of the results of your product, your book is the power of the product and the book, and this technique of showing, not telling.

If you are the hero of the story, then show the readers how it has changed your life with actual results. Like if you are trying to sell something where you can get fitter or run a marathon on or whatever, show them actual stats, how you improved, what has happened, how quickly you managed to run the marathon and so on.

If you start writing a book, don’t tell them about your research for a book or about the product. The process of writing is that show them, take pictures, make videos of your research, your travel, your writing. Show them how you do your process. Include the readers by showing them and let them interpret for themselves what the process is like. And be part of it by seeing it.

Thank you for listening. I hope it was helpful and always remember if you want the reader to buy your story and to believe every single word you write, you have to do it by showing and not telling.

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How to make your content powerful

Principle #3 – The Power of Storytelling

Who’s the scariest antagonist you know? Probably your own fear.

Hi, I’m Diana, and this is Story Artist.

Story is conflict. Without conflict, there is no story.

And what is conflict? Essentially, it’s two opposing forces, fighting each other. One is your protagonist and the other one your opponent, your antagonists.

So to make your story powerful, you have to have a powerful antagonist. And this is what we will talk about in principle number three.

In his book, Anatomy of Story, John Truby says: “Create an opponent who is exceptionally good at attacking your hero’s greatest weakness.” So let’s look at the joker. The joker is an amazing antagonist, but only for Batman, which means he would be a bad antagonist for, let’s say, Luke Skywalker.

The thing is: You have to create a powerful antagonist, but the antagonist has to be perfectly matched to your hero. The more powerful the antagonist and the more perfectly he’s matched and capable of attacking the hero’s greatest weakness, the more powerful your story.

So how do you create the perfect antagonist?

#1 Find the greatest weakness.

Batman’s greatest weakness is that he has to have everything structured. He has principles, like the principle of never killing anyone, and his world is structured. He thinks that by physical power alone, he can overpower people. This is where his strength lies. And the joker is someone who tells him: no, you can’t fight me this way because the Joker has no motive. Batman thinks every villain has a motive, but Joker has none. He just wants to see the world burn. He’s not afraid of death. He’s not afraid of physical power.

That’s why Batman cannot overpower him. And that’s why the Joker attacks his greatest weakness.

So find the greatest weakness in your hero in order to create the perfect villain.

If in nonfiction, in marketing, it’s your story you’re telling, then find your greatest weakness or find the reader’s or your target audience’s greatest weakness. It might be time, might be doubt. It might be some fear.

Find the greatest weakness.

That weakness you will be tackling with your product or with your book or whatever you’re trying to sell.

#2 Identify the villain.

So now that you know the greatest weakness, you have to find the villain that can attack this greatest weakness the best. Who will be the ideal villain to attack this weakness? What would his characteristics be like? How would he be best at spotting those weaknesses and attacking him?

And if we’re talking marketing and nonfiction here, think about what increases the greatest weaknesses of your reader, for example, if they have a lack of time, ask yourself, why do they have a lack of time? What is stealing their time? What are the things that make it worse and worse and worse?

Because what you want to do for the antagonist, you want to make it worse and worse and worse. The same if you’re telling a story in nonfiction, you talk about a weakness and then you have to make it worse. You have to find something that drives it, even to a point where you think, okay, this is so bad, I have to find a solution. You have to increase this pressure.

Maybe they have tried and failed something. Why have they failed? Maybe they have a preconception in their minds that they need to get rid of.

So identify the villain first and now we get to number three.

#3 Intensify the conflict.

In fiction, you have to make things worse and worse and worse. Really, really bad for your hero. So the more intense the conflict, the stronger your story.

Make the antagonist someone who can not be underestimated and who makes these things really, really bad for your hero, so that the reader thinks in the end: How the heck is he going to get out of here?

And, it might be counterintuitive, but the same goes for nonfiction and marketing. So when you have identified the weakness and the things that are actually attacking this weakness and making even worse, you have to get the conflict to the absolute maximum, telling your reader, okay, this is how it’s going to be. This is bad, this is bad.

Why? Because to release the tension, you have to get it to the absolute maximum first.  You have to have your reader at a point where he’s asking: okay, how am I going to get out of here?

Because guess what? Then you have a solution ready for them, how they’re going to get out of here. But first, you have to show them this opposing force that is coming to get them. You have to tackle those fears, so you have to tackle those weaknesses before you can release this tension.

Never forget story is conflict. If you want to have a great story, you have to have great conflict.

And if you want to be a great storyteller, marketer, coach or whatever, you have to embrace conflict. You have to understand that conflict is the essence of story and to embrace it fully and for that, you need to create a great opposing force to have this conflict ready in place when you write the story.

I hope this was helpful, and I see you next time.

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How to instantly impress readers

Principle #2 – The Power of Storytelling

I am speed. I eat losers for breakfast.

Do you remember who was introduced by these lines?

Hey, I’m Diana, and this is Story Artist.

These lines introduce the main character in Disney’s Cars: Lightning McQueen. And in this extended opening of Cars, we learn everything we need to know about the main character – his skills, his disdain for the pit crew, his strength, his weaknesses, and also his goal or his desire to win the Piston Cup.

And today I want to talk to you about the second very important principle in the Power of Storytelling, and this principle will show you how to instantly impress readers.

This principle is called: the Characteristic Moment.

We always make snap judgments. In a book called Blink, the author actually proved that in the blink of an eye, we make judgments about people. Your readers will also make snap judgments about your main characters, your book marketing strategy, yourself, your website, everything. About you or your books. So in order to influence this snap judgment and make sure that this judgment is a positive one, to impress the reader instantly, you need to achieve a great characteristic moment.

In her great blog helping writers become authors, K. M. Weiland says that “a failed characteristic moment can actually mean a failed story”. So it’s really important.

Let’s see what a characteristic moment has to achieve.

#1 Make the protagonist appealing to the reader

in fiction, it’s actually a quite simple equation. You have to introduce something that makes the main character instantly appealing to the reader – can be a cute flaw, it can be something that we can identify with.

And the two things that work the best are: Humor– so if your protagonist has humor or has some funny quirks – and helpfulness. If he’s sacrificing for others if he or she is ready to actually help others.

Now let’s look at nonfiction and marketing. With this, it’s a bit more tricky because you first have to identify the protagonist. In this case, the protagonist can be threefold:

  •  it can be the product you’re trying to sell
  • it can be the reader, he can be the protagonist of your story
  • or it can be you, yourself as the author.

And here the two points of humor and helpfulness are really working as well. So humor will always gain your reader’s heart. Even when you do marketing, when you write sales pages, when you read emails, try to be a bit more humorous, a bit more light with your text. Don’t be too serious and earnest, especially in the beginning, because humor and humorous stories win over the reader’s heart.

And also try to be helpful. Show instantly why this is good for a reader, how you can be helpful or how your product can be helpful or how your reader can help others. The helpfulness aspect is really, really important as well as the humorous aspect.

#2 Introducing both strengths and weaknesses.

In Cars with Lightning McQueen we already saw his strength and his weaknesses. So he has great driving skills, but he has poor people skills.

Why is it important to introduce both? Why is it not enough to just show how great the main character is?

Because this way, he’s not relatable. The more we know about him, the more we know also, his weaknesses and his strengths. We feel like he’s a real human being, we feel like he’s relatable and we feel like we can sympathize with the person. Imagine the scenario when you are trying to get to know someone. And, in the beginning, we try to impress, impress people by telling how great we are, what we have achieved. But this isn’t really impressive because we feel like it’s fake. The moment a person opens up and tells us his fear or his weakness, this is when we start to sympathize because we think: okay, this person is like me. He also has weaknesses and stress and fears, and he’s afraid of something. And this way we start to identify and to sympathize with a person, and the same way it works with the main character.

Now let’s look at nonfiction and marketing. With the product, there’s actually a great strategy you can do. So first, introduce a weakness of another product, which means, for example: Copywriting has always been done this and this and this way, but it doesn’t work because of this and this. But my product– and now here comes the strength – my product does it this way. This is my particular strength and this is why it works.

This is actually a great technique introduced by ARM champion Andrew Chaperone and he’s great. Go check out his website: I’m not an affiliate, just saying it’s great. This is a great technique for selling a product with the Characteristic Moment. You can also introduce your own weaknesses. If you are the hero of the story you’re telling, like, when you say, I had this and this weakness, I had this and this fear, I had this doubt, I couldn’t do this. And then you say: but I had this asset, I had this strength, and this is how I made it work for me. So that people can identify. Or you go straight to the reader and you say: okay, this might be a weakness, but on the other hand, you have the strength, so why don’t you use it?

You see what I mean? So this way, the reader understands: okay, the author gets me, I’m the main protagonist and I have this weakness.

The main point of all of this is for the reader to go: yes, yes, it’s true, t’s true. It’s to nod and nod, and agree with you throughout the text, saying and seeing that you actually get them.

#3 Introduce the goal.

In cars, lightning McQueen wants to win the piston cup, and this goal is a very tangible goal. It’s clear, it’s something you can touch, something that you can measure. And this is really important for a goal.

Being loved or having more love or forgiveness or self-esteem – it’s not a good goal for a story or a protagonist. It can be an underlying goal of the inner conflict, but the character has to have a tangible, clear and measurable goal, like winning the Piston Cup or getting to a destination or getting somewhere. Like his daughter was kidnapped, he wants to get her out of the kidnappers’ hands and so on.

So it has to be a clear, tangible goal, and you have to introduce this ideally in the very beginning of your story, in the Characteristic Moment. If you can’t, you still have to kind of at least hint to the goal.

The same goes for nonfiction and marketing. It has to be a tangible goal. The reader has to know: What will I get from this product?  What will I achieve when I do this?

For example, my mini-course, The 15-Minute-Writer, is aimed at those people who don’t have enough time to write but want to finish a book. I could have said: okay, this is the course for you to finish a book. But what it did is create The 15-Minute-Writer because I said: I will help you write 650 words per day in 15 minutes, which means with 15 minutes per day, you have a book ready or first draft of a book ready in four months. And this is a very tangible goal that you can touch, that you can achieve, that you can measure. And this is really helpful for readers.

The same for nonfiction books. The reader, when he reads this in the very beginning, he has to go: okay, what will this book help me achieve? Where will it get me? What will the result be of what I want to go?

You have to know what your reader wants. You have to know what your reader wants to achieve this way. You have to know your audience. You have to know your reader in order to introduce a goal that is tangible and achievable for them.

On the other hand, like in fiction, the goal can not be something really simple. Winning the Piston Cup is a huge deal. If it was something that he could do just like that, it wouldn’t be interesting. The same goes for marketing. The reader has to go like: What? Can I really write 15 minutes per day only and finish a book in four months? Sounds incredible. And this way they’re like: okay, how can I do this?The same with fiction. The reader wonders, okay, he has this go, how will he achieve this, will even achieve this? And this is the same question you want the reader to be asking for nonfiction and marketing and everything in this realm, in this area.

How the heck can I achieve this? And this is how you will make them go on reading.

So these are the three aspects of how to make your characteristic moment powerful. And I hope this was helpful to you.

Don’t forget: first I have to find out who your hero is. Then you have to write the hook, the principle number one. If you haven’t seen this video, go back and look at it or listen to the podcast episode.

And then number three, write a great Characteristic Moment.

In the next video, I will show you principle number four, how to make your story powerful. I see you next time.

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How to get the reader’s undivided attention

Principle #1 – The Power of Storytelling

If you don’t learn this principle, you’ll never be successful. Do I have your attention now?

Hi, I’m Diana, and this is Story Artist.

In this 15 part series I call “The Power of Storytelling”, I want to talk to you about 15 storytelling principles you need to understand and to master. And these principles will skyrocket everything you do as an author, be it your fiction or nonfiction, be it blogging, be it marketing. Storytelling is such a powerful tool and it works in every area you want to work it in.

You can do book marketing with storytelling. You can do blogging with storytelling, and it works every single time. So I want to share with you those 15 principles I didn’t invent, but principles that really work because they derive their power from storytelling. That is actually in our human DNA because we humans love stories. We tell ourselves stories every single day. And we love stories because they help us make sense of our world. They help bring things into context. And this is why you need to master storytelling in order to be successful. Let’s get started with principle number one.

In today’s world, we are distracted all the time. There’s so much information out there. So many things that fight for our attention constantly and this is why actually a classical novel would never stand a chance in today’s world. If they weren’t famous, if it weren’t Tolstoy or  Hemingway, people wouldn’t read those novels.

Why? Because they don’t grab the attention from the first sentence on, and this is so important. In order to grab your reader’s attention and to have him read what you have to say, to even get him into the story itself, you need to grab their attention straight away. How? With the hook. The hook is a storytelling principle, and I gave you an example of how I started this video.

I started by saying: if you don’t learn this principle, you’ll never be successful. How do I use this hook? I used the fear. I use something that gave you a question, that raised a question.  What principle is it? Why am I not going to be successful if I don’t learn this? And you want to learn the answer to this question because I toggle the fear inside of you.

The fear of missing out.

The hook is at the beginning of your story and the shorter your story is, the shorter is the hook. The more the importance is made on the first sentence, on the first two or three sentences. So if it’s just a short email, the first sentence is really important. If it’s a longer novel, you might have more time to grab your reader’s attention.

But still, the first sentence is the one that counts the most and the hook works for every aspect of storytelling, be it and novel be it a blog post, nonfiction book, email marketing. If you’re a speaker and whatever you’re doing, videos, the hook is one of the most important principles, especially in the beginning that you can use to hook your reader’s attention in today’s world.

So how do you actually create the perfect hook?

Number one: Relevancy.

Your hook needs to raise a question that is relevant to your reader; not relevant to you, relevant to your reader or your audience. It really works for marketing in email, in nonfiction, because you know your reader,  ideally, you know your reader, you know what the problem is that they’re trying to solve or that you are trying to solve for them.

So the first question, the hook needs to be really relevant to your reader. In fiction, it’s a bit more tricky. So you need to raise a question that really contains tension, that also is relevant to the genre readers. Ideally, your hook already places the story in a particular genre so that people know: This is something I want to read, or no, this is something that doesn’t interest me.

Because you want the right reader, right? You don’t want to make a promise that you don’t deliver by the end of the story or by the middle of this story because you want good reviews and you want the right readers for your story, be it fiction or nonfiction.

The question needs to be relevant. You need to give some hints. You need to also, with fiction, give a hint into the atmosphere, to the theme of the story. But more importantly, raise a question that’s really interesting and relevant to your reader.

In nonfiction, it’s really good if you use the word you instead of me.

So for example, if I said in my hook: If I never learned this principle, I would never be successful. Still interesting. But not as interesting as when I say: If you don’t learn it, you will never be successful. Or if I said, If I did this, I would die. It’s still interesting, but not as interesting as if I said: If you do this, you will die. Right? So try using, especially with the hook, but actually in everything you do, the word you more than you use the word me or I, because this is really relevant to your reader.

Number two: Briefness.

Make sure that the hook is really clear and that it’s short and that it’s sweet.

Don’t make it like a huge sentence within the sentence within the sentence that when the reader reads it, he’s just like:  What the …? You know?

The reader needs to know exactly what is the question that he needs to ask himself. Be brief, be really clear, be really clear also about who you’re addressing.

So if my first sentence was something like: The SEO engine is getting difficult because the repercussions are so bad, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah …I might understand the hook if I read it twice or three or four times, but, better to say: SEO is dead. And that’s it. It’s an amazing hook because they’re like, what?

Why? Why is SEO dead? I need to read on! I need to have this question answered. And you instantly understand, the question is really clear. It’s really brief and it’s not confusing to the reader. So make sure that your hook is brief. And clear.

Number three: Boldness.

Don’t be afraid to make bold claims.

Don’t be afraid to raise bold questions. So in order to grab your reader’s attention, it needs to be something really interesting and needs to be something thought-provoking, provocative. Don’t be afraid to provoke. So when I say: SEO is dead, it’s quite provoking. The same’s in fiction.  Don’t go in explaining your world and,  doing a lot of exposition, make something bold, short and interesting that instantly grabs your reader’s attention.

But be aware that there’s a downside to this as well. You need to deliver on those bold claims. It means: if you claim something and if you make a bold claim, make sure that you definitely deliver to the promise that you made to the reader. Because if you don’t, if I say SEO is dead, and then my article or my newsletter or whatever is actually about another thing entirely, then the reader will feel cheated and you don’t want that.

You want to make a bold claim that grabs their attention. As long as you proceed through your story, it needs to get better and better and more interesting in delivering the promise you made in the first place. So my advice is: start with the hook, write your whole story, and then go back again and again to the hook to write it and rewrite it.

This is really important. Don’t just write your hook and be done with it. Don’t be afraid to,  rewrite, to edit your hook and do something about it. Actually do something about it. Don’t be afraid of that. Write and rewrite until you find the perfect way to grab your reader’s attention and to hold it and to not let go.

I hope this principle was helpful. I see you next week with principle number two.

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