How I Tell a Story

How I tell a story.When I write anything – be it a poem, blog post, or research paper – I am writing a story. I am sharing information in my own way. I am sharing it in order to persuade or to educate. I am sharing it based on my perspective. Thus, I highlight some details and neglect others. I’m not lying; I’m merely choosing the elements that are essential to my story.

The best example of how I tell a story probably is an academic one. It exemplifies my approach to almost all the other writing I do, even my more creative writing. How do I tell my story?

  1. I form an idea. I think about the angle I would like to take in regard to a certain subject. I think about my entry point, that is, how I will enter the subject and write about it.
  2. I do my preliminary research. If you go to the library and the entire section devoted to Jonathan Swift or some other author is missing or the printer is out of paper, blame me. I took all twenty books plus the articles I printed from JSTOR home so that I could peruse them and determine their applicability to my story.
  3. I write my story – without stopping, if possible – and include parentheticals to myself in the spots where I need a quote or other information.
  4. I look for flaws in my argument and revise my story. In my world, revision almost always is a complete rewrite of the story. The form or outline of the story may remain the same, but the way I state that story changes. It’s during this period that I also start to fill in the gaps I noted in step three.
  5. I add the necessary facts. I rewrite my story and add quotes and other materials as needed.
  6. I edit the story. Once I’ve added my facts and have a decent argument, I then ensure that those facts integrate with the argument. If the wording seems clunky, I work on smoothing it. I look for punctuation and grammar issues. In most cases, I edit until I’m sick of looking at the thing and find myself trying to skim the text.
  7. I hit publish. I print my story or post it online or give it to whomever is waiting for it.

That’s how I tell a story. How do you tell yours?


  1. Perfect.  As I work in publishing, I find most people do not realize how long the editorial process can be.  Thank you for highlighting this process, especially how deeply you revise your posts.  Happy Friday to you! 

    •  @RebeccaTodd I used to edit things to death. I probably still over-edit, but I’m not nearly as bad as I used to be. 
      Happy Friday to you, too!