How To Become a SMARRT Storyteller
Getting Readers to Read Your Stories
I jerked awake. My heart was pounding. I could barely breathe. I lay frozen in my bed.
I scanned my bedroom, moving only my eyes. It was dark. I frantically wondered: What had woken me? Who was out there? Would they hurt me? Kill me?
Every muscle in my body was tense. Ready to spring out of bed instantly. If I had to.
Terrified, I waited, dreading what would jump up out of the darkness.
What Readers Really Want
We all want peace, right?
We all want less drama. Less conflict, Less struggle. Right?
For we are all ashamed to admit that 99 percent of the time, we secretly long for excitement. We are searching for something, and it’s nothing we’d dare say out loud. For deep down we want to be enthralled by something. We dearly love the feeling of thrills and chills, the wildness of our racing pulse. We love feeling ecstatic when we are enamored, love feeling fired up and frantic, love plunging head-first into deep waters.
For though we are usually so hesitant to admit it, we love the ecstasy of being engaged emotionally.
Because, yes, we finally admit… we are drama seekers.
And an even more shocking truth is, we feel stifled. We feel we are being smothered. For we are usually so bored by our own reality that we think we’d give anything to actually feel something besides the dull pain of sameness. Feel anything, instead of the numbness that we call our lives.
What Really Drives Us
So, when the weekend comes around after a long, hard week, we are driven … driven towards distraction, instead of repelled by it.
Because, when push comes to shove, we actually seek release from out pent-up lifestyle. We abandon our prim routines and go primal. We seek out the wild freedom of the jungle. We hunt for what’s daring and dangerous. And we’re thrilled when we discover the dumb-founding darkness of danger.
As long as it’s not real.
As long as we are not really in danger.
As long as it’s only fantasy.
And that’s what you must give your readers.
You must raise the tension … and then relieve the tension.
As I lay in bed, unable to move, unable to speak, I looked out my bedroom window. Dark shadows hovered nearby. The wind howled. And suddenly the trees shook violently in one gasping breath.
And then just as suddenly, the wind died. The hovering ceased. And in the moonlight, I could see the trees shaking off the dust the wind had tossed upon them.
And I suddenly realized any danger had passed. It was gone with the wind. And I could breathe again. I relaxed as I pulled my blankets closer and snuggled into them, Yawning, I fell into a deep sleep until a sunbeam landed on my face and woke me up in the morning.
The SMARRT Way to Satisfy Readers
Our stories must be the springboard that tightens with tension.
We must give readers the feeling of pulse-racing, tempestuous, adventure. We must raise their emotional temperature to the point of feeling so hot they can’t stand it anymore.
And then suddenly the spring loosens. For they suddenly realize that it’s only a story, that they’re really safe, that there’s no real danger … except in their oh-so-real imaginings.
So, they bound forward with relief as they get a glimpse of life from a new perspective. Or get a new sense of purpose. Or even just a newfound understanding of themselves. And a new appreciation for the life they are living.
When our stories do that for our readers, we will be giving them something valuable. Something worth reading. Something even worth talking about and sharing.
For we become like all SMARRT storytellers whose Stories Move Audiences by Raising and then Releasing the Tension. First, we alert them to the danger. Then we ease their anxiety to allow relief-releasing inspirations.
So, with each story, we must ask ourselves, “Do my stories show the world I really am one of the SMARRT storytellers?”