Let’s talk storytelling

1. Tell longer stories on Twitter. While I’ve got plenty of reservations about social media these days (manipulated metrics and privacy concerns, for starters), I am fascinated by the kinds of storytelling that have evolved as a result of new media.

One of my favorites? Super scrollable story threads, like the one above. Click here to read the entire irresistible thread. What do you notice about how the story is structured, builds, and concludes?

Consider testing something similar to see how it performs.

2. This story is designed to work forever. A freelancer flaked? Internal politics derailed a feature? Build an unbreakable backup and you’ll never panic about story that falls through at the last minute again.

3. Curate real conversations. One of our adamant beliefs at Capstone is that alumni magazines need to tell a lot more stories about humans, not superheroes.

One example of this approach is GQ’s recent story about top musicians who kicked a serious drug or alcohol habit.

In a culture that glorifies the hard partying ways of artists, what does it mean to be clean? What did these artists give up? What do they feel they got in return?

Skip the long-winded intro and dig into the stories from the musicians themselves. Yes, these are people who have achieved at the very highest level, but they’re also deeply human. You can probably see how their stories are relatable to a wide audience.

How could you transfer the larger principles of this story to your own publications?

4. Let your students become the teachers. Yes, your students are great. So great! They’re researchers and artists and fellowship winners. But they’re also something more than that: they’re really, really cool.

They likely have their finger on the pulse of the culture in the way that your 35- and 55- and 75-year-old readers don’t. So let your students be the tour guides to the world they’re swimming in! Could a student explain a popular meme, like Entertainment Weekly did for its readers a couple months ago? Could they teach your readers the floss or do something really nerdy like calculate the angle of their dab? OH YES THEY COULD.