How Reading Great Fiction Makes You a Better Content Creator

Updated Nov. 2, 2022

William Faulkner as soon as stated writers might enhance their abilities by finding out different writers (and a little bit of osmosis): “Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out.”

In a recent discussion in CMI’s LinkedIn group, Tamilore Sonaike supplied what she thought was an unpopular opinion – that content material entrepreneurs ought to learn extra fiction. Many group members chimed in to assist her take.

Why is studying fiction so vital for entrepreneurs? Well, when you concentrate on it, a lot of promoting depends on writing. “All marketing is content,” because the adage goes (weblog posts, electronic mail nurture campaigns, touchdown pages, advert copy, and even video scripts).

Like novelists, entrepreneurs have a lot to realize from publicity to a vary of literature: “Marketing is all about empathy and storytelling, and great stories are proven to make us more empathetic and creative,” Joe Lazauskas wrote in a blog for Contently.

But totally different sorts of literature provide totally different advantages – and a few genres are simpler than others in serving to you develop particular abilities.

Reading can make you a better marketer, but some genres are more effective than others, says @carinarampelt via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Here’s what so as to add to your studying record to enhance your advertising and marketing chops.

Read literary fiction to spice up empathy

Fiction has the facility to move. You inhabit characters’ minds, experiencing firsthand their joys and sorrows. As avid readers know, it’s a deeply empathetic train.

Exercise is a good phrase for the expertise. Like coaching a muscle, studying literary fiction has been shown to enhance one’s concept of thoughts – “the human capacity to comprehend that other people hold beliefs and desires and that these may differ from one’s own beliefs and desires.” Put merely, concept of thoughts is the flexibility to place your self in another person’s footwear.

For entrepreneurs, the flexibility to imaginatively empathize with clients is a large inventive and aggressive benefit. Yet as advertising and marketing has change into extra data-driven, entrepreneurs have grown extra distant from their clients as human beings.

That’s why some researchers argue that redeveloping a sense of empathy is extra important than ever to advertising and marketing success. Reading fiction, it appears, could possibly be a strategy to break previous habits and unlock simpler, empathetic advertising and marketing.

A 2018 Journal of Consumer Research study discovered that when designers had been prompted to examine how finish customers would really feel, their work was extra inventive and modern, whereas nonetheless sensible.

Even although the research centered on product design, it has direct implications for entrepreneurs, based on co-author Kelly Herd. “[I]t could even help more for people who are experts and tend to be very fixated in their own thinking,” she wrote.

The kind of fiction issues, based on the analysis. Reading literary fiction is simpler at constructing empathy than studying widespread fiction. Folks who learn excerpts from PEN or National Book Award-winning novels carried out higher on theory-of-mind duties than those that learn excerpts from Amazon bestsellers. (Nonfiction didn’t appear to make a lot distinction.)

Reading literary fiction is better than reading popular fiction to improve your #ContentCreation, says @carinarampelt via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Recommended studying

Check out these latest award-winning literary fiction lists on your subsequent empathy-boosting learn:

Read poetry to reinforce readability and precision

The finest content material advertising and marketing writing is obvious and evocative. “Good writing has an aliveness that keeps the reader reading from one paragraph to the next,” writes William Zinsser in On Writing Well, the basic information to writing nonfiction. “It’s a question of using the English language in a way that will achieve the greatest clarity and strength,” he says.

Yet a lot content material advertising and marketing writing is the reverse of clear and robust. It’s riddled with jargon and drained clichés. When readers encounter content material that feels like all the opposite advertising and marketing writing they’ve learn, their eyes glaze over. So a lot for astonishing and delighting your clients.

Mastering the English language is important for crafting copy and content material that captures your reader’s consideration. And there’s no higher trainer of linguistic mastery than poetry. Just ask messaging guru Jeffrey Pease, who credit his success working with Fortune 100 manufacturers to the poetic energy of songwriting.

As he shares on the Fenwick blog: “Spending almost two years writing songs … honed a feel for brevity and clarity and the lightning that can occur when you take wild creativity and channel it into a sharp structure,” he stated. “It became the core of what I brought to my role – a messaging structure and a bit of poetry to inhabit it.”

From poetry, entrepreneurs can study to make use of language extra intentionally, partaking their readers with clear, concise, and fascinating phrase decisions.

Recommended studying

The Poetry Foundation publishes, archives, and celebrates the perfect poetry within the English language. Its editors curate new featured poems daily.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT: Rock Your Content With These 7 Songwriting Secrets

Read the classics to study compelling storytelling construction

Certain tales resonate throughout centuries. Just take a look at the sheer quantity of flicks retelling Shakespearean performs and different classics. (Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice alone has over 15 cinematic, together with a Bollywood model full of dance numbers.) Many different movies don’t immediately adapt basic literature however undertake acquainted frameworks, such because the hero’s journey.

These tales persist as a result of they’re emotionally satisfying – they construct stress and launch it, although not at all times within the methods readers anticipate. The historic Greeks understood this nicely.

In Poetics, Aristotle defines “tragedy” (what we’d simply name “drama”) as “an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude … through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of these emotions.” We get our phrase for emotional launch – catharsis – from the Greek phrase for “purgation” or “purification.” An partaking story heightens the readers’ anxiousness, then resolves it.

By studying basic texts, content material entrepreneurs can study vital classes in storytelling construction. Whether you’re writing a weblog put up, buyer story, or video script, create stress, suspense, or anxiousness to drag your viewers alongside on their strategy to a satisfying decision.

And this ending must be applicable, not essentially comfortable. As scholar Rebecca Williams, “(A) happy ending is more about whether an ending fits with what came before and whether it does that justice or not.”

Read classic fiction to learn how to structure stories for #ContentMarketing, says @carinarampelt via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Recommended studying

There are far too many basic literature suggestions than I can record. These are good beginning factors:

  • Shakespeare’s performs have made a profound influence on storytelling. They’re finest consumed the way in which the bard meant: on stage. And this doesn’t essentially imply it’s worthwhile to get tickets to a stay present — loads of performs can be found to stream on-line, resembling by the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • Jane Austen’s six novels have formed our cultural understanding of “happy endings.”
  • The Greatest Books of All Time presents a record you possibly can filter based mostly on the writer’s nation of origin, style, and different filters.

Read on and create higher content material

For content material entrepreneurs, studying has many advantages, together with enhancing empathy, elevating written communication, and enhancing storytelling skills – all core to telling tales that can have interaction your audiences.

Both trendy and basic literature provide enduring classes to place into observe. And observe is vital: Not all strategies could translate completely from the web page. But, as Faulkner stated, “If it is good, you’ll find out.”

Want extra content material advertising and marketing suggestions, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

Cover picture by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute