Storytelling Cheat Sheet

I recently spoke about storytelling to a group of students pursuing PhDs in scientific disciplines and wanted to offer them concrete storytelling tips. Drawing from my career as a journalist and the research I conducted for my Cambridge dissertation on “conservation storytelling,” I put together a cheat sheet that any type of storyteller could refer to before diving into writing a story. In fact, I’m going to print a copy and put it in my home office!

  • Choose format
  • Consider audience
  • Identify story goals
  • Before starting, look for:
    • Clear characters that are (ideally) relatable (protagonists & antagonists)
    • Interesting characters
    • Drama and/or enchantment
    • Heroes on a quest
    • Story arcs
  • All good stories:
    • Have a beginning, middle, and end
    • Make use of┬átension and hook readers
    • Show rather than tell
    • Engage listeners (especially important on social media)