"If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story."

-Orson Welles


We tell stories all the time, to our friends, our families and our peers. It might be as simple as "what happened today" to "I need your help and this is why" and everything in between. How do you make a story compelling to the audience and get them to visualize what you're saying? How do we tell a story that is so powerful, you can turn an antagonist into one of your biggest fans?

Start with a goal or specific message. Who is listening and what do you want them to know? You should always ask these questions so you know what to talk about and how to get your message across.

Have a "hook". What will make the reader continue reading your story? Make sure you get them engaged (hooked) in the first couple sentences. In todays 140 character world, many people won't read beyond the first paragraph.

Use your own experiences as a guide. It's easier to tell a personal or personalized story. Things are much more genuine and the words can flow easier if you focus on true stories or derivatives of a personal experience.

You don't have to be the hero of the story. You can be in it but it's often better to focus on others. Now, if you happen to be a hero and have done something genuinely amazing (such as save a life), that does make a great story.

There should be a positive and negative. Conflicts are universal and everyone understands how difficult situations can be. Telling how you or someone else faced adversity and triumphed makes a good story. Remember that all stories don't have happy endings.

Make sure you have the key facts and keep the message simple and straight forward. You can always add details but don't drown your audience in too many.

Include engaging photos or videos. A picture can tell 1000 words, so they say. Let your pictures get readers engaged before they even read your story. Get them interested with a compelling photo so they want to learn more.

Have a "Call To Action". What are you hoping the reader will get from your story? Do you want them to share it with everyone or is it important for them to donate to your organization. Don't be shy in your call to action. Spell it out, i.e. "I'd like you to share this so we can get the word out".