Sublime Storytelling

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Aspects of Austin Kleon’s concepts in Chapter 5 of Show Your Work are simple, yet difficult for some to realize and enact without reading his work that make his ideas apparent.

Titled “Tell Good Stories”, Kleon underlines the importance of professionals knowing their audience, which is basic considering an audience consists of people paying to read, listen, watch, etc.

Audience Listening

However, it is up to the writer to parlay and hoist the value of their work by communicating contextual — and hopefully enticing — information about it.

“The stories you tell about the work you do have a huge effect on how people feel and what they understand about your work,” Kleon said (93), “and how people feel and what they understand about your work effects how they value it.”

Effective stories, Kleon says, rely on structures of different sorts that can be used repeatedly. Over time, prosperous authors have set a framework succeeding writers can utilize when composing, but it is up to them to be cognizant of those structures.

Story Structure

As Kleon notes, novelist John Gardner's structure is among the most prominent: “A character wants something, goes after it despite opposition (perhaps including his own doubts), and so arrives at a win, lose, or draw.”

Like Kleon says, work doesn’t speak for itself, so here’s a shameless plug to my own work:

Studying to become a sports writer, I am fortunate enough to have acquired contacts in the field who have provided me with freelancing opportunities that I hope bolsters the appeal of my resume. One of these jobs is writing for Clemson University’s Orange: the Experience magazine, and below is a link to my story on the trip taken to Japan this past summer by Clemson offensive lineman Kalon Davis, which appeared in the magazine’s September issue:


LBark94's picture

This is great!

Hey Gavin! This is a great analysis of Kleon's writing. I really like the connection to your own work too! that is a great piece you wrote! You have a lot of talent, keep it up!
Larissa Barkley

ald_3's picture

Hey Gavin - Wow, that's

Hey Gavin - Wow, that's awesome that you write for Orange: the Experience! I totally remember reading that story about Kalon Davis in the magazine this summer. It was fascinating (and those contact lenses he wears really do the trick...they're so creepy!). That's great that you've figured out a way to start building your resume while you're in college in a field you're interested in. I think resumes are another interesting example of how we "show our work." Sometimes, at least for me, it is daunting to think about trying to explain myself, all my experiences and knowledge, on one sheet of paper. But, if we can manage to describe our work and experiences in a compelling way, we just might capture the attention of an employer. Great post - thanks for sharing!