How many papers do we print out, mark to be read later, or just put aside to get to when we have time? If we are lucky, we may find a chance to look at those papers at some point and if the authors are even luckier we might do more than quickly glance through them.
At the end of the day, however, which ones do we really remember? Which ones won the coveted space in our brains so that we could reflect on them later?
More often than not, it’s the papers that painted a compelling story. It’s the ones we can relate to, the ones that remind us we are not alone or that a solution exists to our painful problem.
People love stories. Since we were very young, some of the first words out of many of our mouths were “tell me a story”. Just because we have become adults doesn’t mean we’ve lost the ability to appreciate a really good story.
Think about it. You can read all of the reports on the current health care debates. You can look at the number you expect to see.
Effective? Perhaps, but boring and also quite frankly forgettable.
Or you can present the story of a little disabled girl who because of health care budget cuts might not be able to be cared for at her home anymore. If you have a beating heart, it’s that story not the numbers that is going to bring it all home. That’s the story that will get you to move off that couch and into action.
I’m not saying that all of your writing has to be sensationalistic or hyperbole, in fact, that type of writing will be nothing but quickly dismissed. What I’m saying is that your paper needs a human hook. A reason with which I can connect amidst the graphs and tables.
And nothing reminds us more of our primal need to connect than cuddling up and being told a story.