Presentation skills, such as vocal variation and body language, will play a significant role in storytelling by enhancing a narrative’s impact, but nothing will ever be as important as your words.
The eight story blocks and the ten story elements are ideal guides to utilize when crafting your narrative, but classic literary techniques are able to add meaning, depth, clarity, and connection to your story.
That said, a word of warning, as spending too much time learning these techniques may leaving you feeling overwhelmed and distract your from the task at hand – capturing the wisdom and insights gained from your life’s experience and turning it into an impactful story – so take your time exploring them.
Foreshadowing provides a hint about something which is going to happen later in the story. Dialogue can reveal information connected to a future event, while physical actions will repeat, or may cause a reaction later on. It will hit your audience on a sub-conscious level, creating a feeling of mystery or tension.
Callbacks refer to previous events in the story and bring back some dialogue, imagery or emotion that was experienced in that moment. The connection may illicit laughter or sadness, satisfaction or excitement. In some cases it will tie up a loose end or provide clarity to a complex situation.
Imagery brings people, places and events to life in a way that can paint a visual picture, describe a sound, imitate a flavor or smell, even transfer a sense of touch or sensation. It may be static, such as describing a person or a scene, or active when it’s describing a live event with some movement. When done well, the audience is immersed in the experience.
Symbolism uses objects, places and events to create a mood or feeling associated with a character, location or scene. A cloudy day provides a much different backdrop to a scene than stormy weather, as does the difference between a green, mowed lawn, and one that is brown with lots of weeds, or a junkyard versus a department store.
Metaphors are figures of speech used to describe one thing in terms of the attributes of another thing. While those two things are quite different, and the comparison is literally untrue, the association still serves to transfer the meaning into the minds of the audience.
My boss is a monster.
All the world’s a stage.
He’s such a shining star.
That meeting was a zoo.
She cried a river of tears.
The freeway is a parking lot.
The black sheep of the family.
Similes are figures of speech used to compare the qualities of two things by using the connectors “as” or “like” to create that comparison. Similes can be funny or serious, complementary or mean spirited. In any event, they can serve to add a degree of definition and emotion to the narrative.
Tough as nails.
He’s cold as ice.
She eats like a pig.
As sweet as sugar.
He’s blind as a bat.
Cool as a cucumber.
She cried like a baby.
As you create your impactful narrative look to incorporate literary techniques that enhance your story. And don’t limit yourself to these six. Below are forty more that you should consider adopting, though beware of those more suited to fiction writing than true stories.