How to Create Compelling Stories to Inspire and Motivate Readers of Your Self-Help, How-To or Business Book


Examples illustrate points and principles in action. Stories are the most common type of example. They inspire people to believe they can successfully apply the ideas in the book, and they motivate readers to put strategies and exercises into practice.

Stories can be an essential component for connecting with the reader. Stories create social proof. They bring the main points alive. Prescriptive nonfiction books are filled with stories. They are one of the strongest teaching tools available. The best stories tell how someone handled the same situation the reader is currently dealing with and allows the reader to see the possibility of achieving the intended outcome. It's also a good way to understand complex concepts and see them in action.

You can tell the stories of your clients (with your client’s approval or without revealing details that identify the client) or your own life experiences. Stories show readers that you are an expert in solving the problem they want fixed.

Before & After Story

Before-and-after results type stories have the most impact.  A “Before & After Story” should:

  • Identify one main character.
  • Include a well-drawn “before” description.
  • Outline a clear and simple strategy or specific action the person implemented.
  • Reveal a powerful “after” result of how the person’s life or business was changed for the better.

6 Tips for Writing Anecdotal Stories

  1. Ensure the story is clearly connected to the concept you are presenting. The story must embody the points you wish to make.
  1. Introduce the anecdote by explaining the idea that it illustrates (in other words, what it means).
  1. Let the reader know what elements are important ahead of time so they can focus on the key points.
  1. Identify a specific main character. Give the person a name.
  1. Give the main character some “character” by providing relevant information about the background of the subject and describing any details that are important to the story.
  1. Ensure each story is focused on a single strong idea or technique. Avoid trying to illustrate multiple points within one story.

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