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‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’
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‘How to Say Your Story - A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories’

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This book, probably the first of its kind in South Asia, aims to help the region’s development sector create and use stories. Anyone interested in educating their stakeholders about their work can use …

This book, probably the first of its kind in South Asia, aims to help the region’s development sector create and use stories. Anyone interested in educating their stakeholders about their work can use it to tell their story.

This book attempts to help key players in the development sector to create and use stories, either to gain new audiences or strengthen their hold over the existing ones.

The following, in particular, may find this book very useful:
1. Heads of CSR, Corporate Foundations, Cause Marketing.
2. Policy makers and Government officers.
3. Scientists, particularly ecologists and wildlife biologists.
4. Senior and mid-level Communication Managers.
5. Executives and officers working for Communication, Public Relation, Investor relation, Liaison, CSR and Outreach teams.
6. Journalism and Communication students.
7. Teachers.

This is my maiden attempt at writing a book. I am sure there is a big scope to improve it. If you think it can be improved in any way, please let me know and I shall be more than happy to incorporate the suggestions. Please email me at tumkurameen AT gmail.com

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  • 1. A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories Ameen Ahmed
  • 2. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 2
  • 3. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 3 Disclaimer This document has been written by the author in his individual capacity. It does not represent the official stand or view of any organisation. Any trade mark and creative content like photographs included is the copyright of respective creator/ author. Attribution-NonCommercial CC BY-NC This document can be remixed, tweaked, and built upon non- commercially provided the new work is non-commercial and acknowledges this document. Published: July 2013 AD; Ramzan 1434 Hijri Photo credits: As credited on each photo Suggested citation: Ameen Ahmed. 2013. How To Say Your Story A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories.
  • 4. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 4 Dedicated to My beloved father, Alhaj Janab Muneer Ahmed Saheb And Late Mr. K.S.Shankar, my high school Principal. Mr. Ravi Singh, CEO & SG, WWF-India. Padma Shri Zafar Futehally, Birdwatcher and wildlife conservationist Mr. T.V.N.Murthy, Founder, Wildlife Aware Nature Club (WANC), Tumkur
  • 5. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 5 This book’s chief objectives are, to help: 1. Identify stories. 2. Write stories. 3. Edit stories. 4. Improve story writing skills. 5. Disseminate stories.
  • 6. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 6 How to use this book Every chapter presents a broad idea and the following are included towards the end of each: a) Summarised highlights in boxes to help readers remember the concepts in the long run. b) Exercises which readers can use to test their knowledge of the aforesaid chapter. c) References as well as further resources to help readers gain more knowledge of the various themes and ideas presented.
  • 7. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 7 Author’s note The development sector, or third sector as it is also known, is helping south Asia face its various challenges today, ranging from environment to children’s and women’s rights. The sector’s work is being carried out by Government agencies, non-government organisations and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) wings of the corporate. These need to educate their various stakeholders, both internal and external, on the various issues that need urgent social attention; probable solutions to them; as well as their strategic objectives and individual goals. There are few better ways to communicate these than through stories. There are many books and essays written on communications for the third sector in the West, particularly in the USA. But there are hardly any in south Asia, though there is literature available on corporate communication here. The sporadic essays written on the third sector are mainly done so by communicators who have only spent a small part of their career in this sector. Over the years, the senior and middle level communication people I have met in the development sector have mostly made their beginning in the corporate and it is not surprising to see them freely apply their corporate experience and ideas in this sector. Though there is no doubting the need
  • 8. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 8 to imbibe the corporate work culture in the third sector, it is imperative that the development sector’s communication is devised by people who have been into this long enough. The need of the hour is to assimilate the corporate work culture in the third sector at the same time as ensuring there is a fair say in devising strategies and action plans of development sector’s communication by people who have been into this long enough. On the brighter side, some of the communication campaigns run by the Government agencies show a fair degree of refinement indicating the maturity with which the communicators, chiefly external agencies, are handling the assigned campaigns. To sum up, the intricacies of development sector can be better understood by someone who has rich hands-on experience at the grass roots - the ‘ground zero,’ of third sector. And the sooner (and longer) a communicator working in development sector gains this experience, the better. This manual, probably the first of its kind in south Asia, attempts to help key players in the development sector to create and use stories, either to gain new audiences or strengthen their hold over the existing ones. Ameen Ahmed Bangalore, India July 2013
  • 9. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 9 Thank you! Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life. Rumi, the Sufi This manual is an outcome of the unstinting support I have received from my parents, wife and siblings; the affection and encouragement of my friends and colleagues; and the endless opportunities provided by my motherland India. I thank my fellow nature club members of Wildlife Aware Nature Club, Tumkur and my colleagues at Greenpeace India as well as WWF-India. Special thanks to my journalist friends, in particular R.S.Iyer of the vernacular Kannada press; Devaraju Hirehalli, Girish Babu, Subhash N, Amit Upadhye and Shivaraja B.N. Jayalakshmi.K, former editor of Deccan Herald’s Sunday supplement, has catalysed the blooming of many young writers. She provided me the space to write on many a Sunday in that news paper at a crucial juncture in my writing life. Speaking to my friends who share the same concern for our nation’s welfare, particularly its wildlife, Guruprasad.T.V, Prasanna Kumar.D.R, Mallikarjun Manjunath (Malli), Gundappa.B.V (Mestru), Chandrashekhar Upadhyaya, Dr.
  • 10. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 10 Manjunath.K.R, Dr. Mahesh.G.S, Mallesh.R, Harish Bhat.R, Manjunath.P, Dr.Aravind Raj, Dr. Hussain.K.A, Mohanraj.N, Jayachandran.S, Gurunath Desai, Laxmeesha, Suresh K Mohammed IPS, Sridhar.S and all those whom I have not mentioned here, has always propelled me to walk that extra mile in life. My well wishers in the Indian Forest Service and the Forest Department have always welcomed me with open arms to help me learn more. I particularly thank Dr. Uday Veer Singh PhD IFS, Yekanthappa.K IFS, Vijay Mohan Raj IFS, Samir Sinha IFS, Udayan.A IFS, Santhosha.G.R IFS and Pooviah.A.T. Thanks to Shubhobroto Ghosh for holding the mirror to the first draft contents of this book. A special thanks to Fowziya, my better half, for her encouragement throughout this work. Here are a few names that I can remember of the many that have helped me shape my writings over the years: Aishwarya Maheshwari, Ahmer Siddique, Anil Cherukupalli, Anshuman Atroley, Anupam Sharma, Amit Sharma, Asad R Rahmani, Ashish Fernandes, Ashish Kothari, Binu Jacob,
  • 11. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 11 Dakshina Murthy, Dipankar Ghose, Diwakar Sharma, Elma Okic, Gene Hashmi, Gopakumar Menon, Jai Krishna R, Javed Naqi, Joydeep Bose, Juhi Chaudary, Kiran Rajashekariah, Kandpal.K.D, Krishna.M.B, Dr.Naveen.K.S PT, Madhukar Rao, Malini Shankar, Manoj Ponnath, Mohan B Kemparaju, Moushumi Basu, Mudit Gupta, Nandeesha, Palecanda M Aiyyanna, Peeyush Sekhsaria, Prabhakar Achar, Pramod Venkateshmurthy, Pranab.J.Bora, Prasad.J.N, Prashant.N.S, Ravindra.A, Raghuram, Rohit Mishra, Saket Badola IFS, Sandeep Vegad, Sanjay Balachandran, Sejal Worah, Siddhartha Gogoi, Shivakumar L Narayan, Siddhartha Ghosh, Shivaraja B.N, Shubhobroto Ghosh, Sonali Nandrajog, Soumen Dey, Subhash N, Srinivasalu.P.V, Sunil Kumar M, Sunny Shah, Suresh C Sharma, Suresh Heblikar, Susheela Nair, Tarique Aziz, Veena Narasasetty, Venkatesh Upadhyaya, Vijay Mahantesh, Vikram Hiresavi, Vinay P Chandra, Vismaya.
  • 12. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 12
  • 13. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 13 Contents 1) The power of story Stories for all; South Asia’s rich story-telling traditions; Why a story?; ‘Do I really need to tell a story?’; Is there science to show stories last longer than other narrations?; Create your story, now! 2) Before narrating your story Forms of story telling; Which ‘avatar’ for your audiences?; Fitting your story into your overall organisational strategy; Maintain scientific temperament. 3) Ideating ‘Why write a story?’; ‘Whom do I write for?’; ‘Where can I find mine?’; ‘Whom to feature and what to write?’; ‘When to write (and use)?’; Sourcing stories from colleagues or the field offices. 4) Writing your story News or feature?; Length; Constructing a story; Organisation and clarity; Choosing the header/ title; Example of a feature story; Example of a news story; Writing styles; Captions and cutlines; Pictures to accompany stories. 5) Proofreading and editing Revision; Editing; Proof reading; An example of revision and editing.
  • 14. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 14 6) Disseminating your stories Showcasing stories; Mediums to disseminate stories; Journey beyond the story and the call for action; Stories and social issues’ awareness, a case study; Stories for NGO fundraising; A step by step guide to write your story. 7) Improving your stories Providing a personal touch to stories on animals; Why it pays to be politically correct; Continue what is working right for you; Accept feedback honestly; Measure the response; See what others are doing right; Write simple and to the point; Use pictures to help readers visualise the story; Take help of pictorial representations; Expand the horizons of your online story; Writing for external channels; Balance between emotions and rationality; ‘Practise makes a man perfect’. 8) The Author
  • 15. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 15 Stories for all Recall the last time you heard a story and the chances are it might not have been long ago since you actually started to browse through this book. May be you had a friend calling you to tell what happened at the office today. Or may be you overheard your sibling or spouse gossip about their colleagues or family. Or you may just have watched an ad on TV by a multi-crore rupee brand, which used a narration to try and hit the marketing bull’s eye in 30 flat seconds. Stories are being narrated 1. The Power of Story Multi-crore rupee brands take the route of narration in trying to hit the marketing bull’s eye in 30 - 60 seconds.
  • 16. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 16 since time immemorial in various forms. The Stone Age humans painted on rocks to narrate their lives. Today’s movies and the many albums - entertainment that many often resort to, to break from the monotony of hectic modern day life, are stories - some times on self and sometimes on others. They exist in all languages and among people of all lands. If not for the impact they have on the masses, they would not have been used in major religious texts to preach common man the ‘divine’ word; Lord Krishna narrates The Bhagavad Gita through stories and speaks of the principles that need to be followed by humans. The Bible has stories on Mary, Jesus and their forefathers and tells people how God has commanded them to follow the righteous path. The Quran narrates many stories of the people A performance of Ram Leela, among the popular ways of narrating the tales of the epic Ramayana. Courtesy: http://www.pravasitoday.com/countrys-oldest- official-ramlila-will-stick-to-tradition
  • 17. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 17 mentioned in The Bible and furthers the word of Allah as narrated by Prophet Muhammad. South-Asia’s rich story-telling traditions South Asians have been at the forefront of story telling through ages. Ramayana and Mahabharata, the great epics of Hinduism, have been narrated through the breadth of the Indian sub-continent (and even beyond, in south-east Asia) in numerous forms, from puppetry and dramas to poetry, well- known among them being the Hari Katha and the Ram Leela. The stories from Panchatantra, the Jatakas, as well as the tales of the great Moghul Akbar and his witty courtier Birbal make a delightful reading even today. Many of these have also been reproduced as animations as well as television serials and some have made it A 'Dastangoi' being performed in Basti Nizamuddin, Delhi, in Dec. 2010. 'Dastangoi' is dramatized Urdu storytelling that dates back to medieval Iran (Persia). (c) Ameen Ahmed
  • 18. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 18 to the big screen too. Among the many popular TV serials of yesteryears that popularised dramatised story telling in India are ‘Dada dadi ki kahaniyan’, ‘Vikram aur Betal’ and ‘Mulla Nasruddin’, all on India’s state channel Doordarshan. Similarly, Dastangoi a dramatised form of Urdu story has, over the centuries, mastered Dastaan e Amir Hamza (‘The tales of Amir Hamza’) in which the mythical world of fairies and magicians comes alive. Stories from Arabian Nights have been translated in many languages and are popular across south Asia just like they are in the West. Be it the bed time tales of grannies, folklores of the traditional story tellers or qawwalis of the Sufis, story telling has been an integral part of the way of life in south Asia. Why a story? We remember many of the world’s events that have left a mark on us due to stories we have been told – many of them through pictures. Few who have seen the picture of Phan Thị Kim Phúc, the terrified girl child running down a road with her back on fire during the Vietnam War after a South Vietnamese Air Force napalm attack can forget it. Many in the western world actually hear about the jungles of India and their tigers for the first time through the stories of Sher Khan, Mowghli and other
  • 19. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 19 characters of The Jungle Book. These are just a few examples of what stories can do to people’s perceptions. According to Shubhobroto Ghosh, a science writer, “Story telling is an ancient art and if one can hone their skills of sharing stories, it could have a magnetic effect on enrapturing people’s attention to social issues. Can you recollect how the master story tellers frame their plots, unweave the mysteries and lay out the intricacies for their audiences be it laymen or children? Well known naturalists and scientists like George Schaller, Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, Birute Galdikaas, Billy Arjan Singh and Gerald Durrell, all of them in their writings evoke a powerful emotional bond with nature that is reflected in their stories in popular books that are far more effective than any number of scientific papers.” Using stories will not only help you further your organisational objectives, it also will help focus the public spotlight on various issues affecting our country. ‘Do I really need to tell a story?’ Here are a couple of simple ways to find out if your existing communication is actually achieving its stated goals. a) Ask your digital media analyst to analyse your e- communications – the e-mailers, e-newsletters/ e- bulletins, web pages, social networking posts among
  • 20. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 20 others to see which pages or issues have received higher hits. b) Find out how many compliments your corporate communication team received through emails or verbal feedback. If the numbers are low, then obviously there is something that needs to work better. Then, sit back and try recalling these: - How many times have you received compliments after despatching your annual report to your donors and trustees? - How many of your individual or high end donors have actually called and offered more support after browsing through your periodical – your monthly magazine or e- newsletter? If the above has not happened often, check if you have stories in the documents you have sent. If they are indeed present, ask yourself if they have been told in a way that actually inspires your audiences. There is always scope for you to improve the way you communicate your work by improving and telling your stories more effectively.
  • 21. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 21 Is there science to show stories last longer than other narrations? There are quite a few resources available in the public that use the help of science to prove the better grasping power of the brain when fed with stories. An interesting discussion is in Kendall F. Haven’s Story proof: the science behind the startling power of story on how brain is wired to understand stories better than a plain, non-story narration. Dawes R also says the human brain is built to process stories better than other forms of input. Thomas Neuman, Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Paediatrics, University of California, advocates the power behind stories and the way many doctors can find them useful. You may want to explore the ‘Further resources’ section at the end of this chapter to learn more. Create your story, now! A good story is a bridge between the situation on the ground and the bigger picture. It can be a tool using which anybody, from an ordinary citizen to a decision maker, can be made to understand the issues affecting the society and the nation at large. A good story can move a legislator to act, it can provoke the mainstream media to further write about it, it can create new donors or make the existing ones dig deeper into their
  • 22. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 22 pockets; and for corporate donors it can help educate their shareholders the reach their CSR can have, or has had. This is the time to discover the potential of stories to communicate your work. Buttress the drab statistics on your website’s home page with a small narration, a picture and a link to a story that will provoke interest in those stats. Reach out to those pictures sent by your field officer of a child smiling in a narrow alley of Mumbai’s Dharavi or a labourer toiling in a Tughlaqabad sweat shop in south-east Delhi. Weave a story around them. Upload a photo gallery on your website. Post them on face book. Tweet them. Go ahead and say aloud to the nation the issues facing their fellow citizens. Inspire others with what you have done, what you are doing and what you plan to do.
  • 23. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 23 Go ahead and tell your story! (c) Ameen Ahmed
  • 24. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 24 Chapter exercises 1. Prepare a list of story telling traditions around you. Hints: - Start with your family. - Speak to your colleagues and learn about the story telling traditions in their families. Chat with your neighbours and find the same. - Some of the best sources are the elderly. FURTHER RESOURCES John Kotter. “The Power Of Stories.” Forbes.com, 2006 Dan heath, Chip Heath. ‘Made to Stick – Why some ideas survive and others die….’ John Baldoni. "Using Stories to Persuade" Harvard Business Review. March 24, 2011. John Seely Brown. "Storytelling in organizations: why storytelling is transforming 21st century organizations and management.” Butterworth- Heinemann, 2005, 192 pages. David Lee. "The Mysterious Power of Stories." Blog, August 30, 2010 Terrance Gargiulo. "The Power Of Stories In Communication & Management" linkageinc.com John Seely Brown...[et. al]. “Storytelling in organizations: why storytelling is transforming 21st century”. Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann.
  • 25. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 25 Thomas B Newman. "It's good to talk. The power of stories over statistics". British Medical Journal 327 : 1424 doi: 10.1136/bmj.327.7429.1424 (Published 18 December 2003) Trish Groves, deputy editor, BMJ. "Editor's Choice. The power of stories". BMJ 2009; 339:b4887 John F. Steiner, MD, MPH. "The Use of Stories in Clinical Research and Health Policy.” Journal of the American Medical Association 2005 John F. Steiner, MD, MPH. "Using Stories to Disseminate Research: The Attributes of Representative Stories". J Gen Intern Med. 2007 November; 22(11): 1603–1607. Published online 2007 September 1 Kendall F. Haven. “Story proof: the science behind the startling power of story.” Dawes R. ‘’Message from psychologists to economists: mere predictability doesn’t matter like it should (without a good story appended to it).” J Econ Behav Organ 1999;39:29-40. Salma Khadra Jayyusi. 'Classical Arabic Stories: An Anthology', December, 2010, Columbia University Press Paula Richman. ‘Ramayana stories in modern South India: an anthology, 2008, Indiana University Press. Paula Richman. ‘Many Rāmāyaṇas: the diversity of a narrative tradition in South Asia’ 1991, University of California Press, 1992
  • 26. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 26
  • 27. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 27 Forms of story telling Poetry, prose/ written essays, puppet shows, photographic images, paintings, illustrations are among the many ways to narrate. For example, puppet shows can be used in melas or jatras (village gatherings) to convey to communities a host of messages ranging from Government 2. Before narrating your story The effective short film on Mukesh Harane an oral cancer patient who died at 24, due to tobacco chewing, was telecast on TV channels in India in 2011-12. Courtesy: World Lung Foundation website on YouTube
  • 28. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 28 regulations on child marriage to dangers of AIDS. Illustrations can be used to drive the message of road safety among kids. In 2010-11, the Government of India started using graphic images of individuals with symptoms of cancer along with their stories to create a greater understanding about the dangers of consuming tobacco. Movies, particularly the short films, increasingly are animated and tell stories. Which ‘avatar’ for your audiences? Find out who your audiences are and decide the best way to reach them. Do you want to write a feature story? Prepare a colourful audio visual presentation? Or, create a photo gallery on your website? How about going a step ahead and making a 1 or 2 minute animated movie instead? Would having a narrative in the movie and extending it, to maybe 3 minutes, help you convey the message better? Asking your audience what they would like to read and see is the best way to answer the above questions. Conducting an online survey can be a big help. You may do one yourself through commercially available web sites like Find out who your audiences are and ask yourself what is the best way to reach them.
  • 29. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 29 monkeysurvey.com or, if resources permit, you can ask a marketing company to do the same for you. Fitting your story into your overall organisational strategy It is extremely important that you ask yourself where your story fits into the organisation’s strategy or bigger scheme of things. Is it to convey the need to introduce your audience to a particular way of thinking of yours that you would like to get registered in the audience’s mind? The answer to this question will be yes if you are the planning stage of the project, to test waters and see how your stakeholders react, Even beyond the planning stage and into the initiation stage of the project, such a story can be told to convince your stakeholders of your conviction in the idea and that it is going to work. What if you are at a stage where you would like to inform them about the way things are progressing or perhaps not progressing? For example, if you have invested in a micro- credit project to support a small, impoverished community and if the same is not making an impact in the lives of your projects beneficiaries the same within the timeline it was supposed to wouldn’t it be prudent for you to convey a story that informs the audiences of the same and the factors behind it? Writing an ‘all is well’ story at that stage and then letting the force of the issue
  • 30. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 30 suddenly hit the stakeholders will do a great disservice to your brand. Maintain scientific temperament To maintain a loyal reader base who put faith in what you write and look forward to reading your stories over a period of time, have the essence of a scientific essay in your story. Here are some pointers in this direction: 1) Make sure the facts you quote have the relevant and reliable references. Avoid theories and ideas that can not be backed by scientific (measurable, repeatable) evidence. 2) Choose the words for your story carefully and ensure they convey exactly what you want to. There is a difference between, “This locality has the largest number of poor in the city,” and “This is among the localities with the largest number of poor in the city”. 3) Ensure your audience understands your language. Avoid jargons and abbreviations or acronyms that are not easily understood. 4) Use a dictionary to see how a word you have rarely used or never used in your earlier write-ups, fits into the context of your latest sentence as well as the overall story. Make sure nothing is said, and nobody is quoted or paraphrased, out of context.
  • 31. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 31 5) Before you start keying in, you might want to choose the right language dictionary in the MS word (in windows). If you do take the help of a dictionary, ensure the dictionary language is set to the country of your choice. I personally use an English (India) dictionary to help me edit. Be careful to check your draft thoroughly after keying in using the ‘auto-correct’ option, as there is a risk of the dictionary ‘auto-correcting’ a typed word to an almost similarly spelled word but conveying a something that you don’t mean. Chapter exercises 1. Prepare a list of different story telling forms in your state. 2. List the different story based campaigns run by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, since 2007.
  • 32. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 32 FURTHER RESOURCES Writing Process - Brainstorming, Oracle, Think Quest Education Foundation National Tobacco Control Programme (NTCP). “Specified Health Warnings spots for Tobacco” YouTube channel of Website of World Lung Foundation
  • 33. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 33 Why should you write a story? OK, let me ask you to perform this small task. Take a pen and a piece of paper. Jot down the reasons ‘Why’ you want to write your story. Need help? Try answering the following questions: - What do you want to achieve from your story? - What should your target audience do after reading your story? a) Should they change their lifestyles or attitudes to help the situation? b) Should they write to their legislator to intervene? c) Do you want them to help you, either financially or as volunteers? 3. Ideating Reasoning why you need to write a story is a way to identify your stories.
  • 34. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 34 d) Any other thing you want them to do? Answering the ‘Why’ will help you answer the five Ws (Whom, Where, Who, What, When) and 1 H (How) and help you complete your planned story. Now, let me help you answer your questions. ‘Whom do I write for?’ There is obviously somebody who is going to read your story. Try identifying the ‘whom’. For a health campaign by a Government or Non Government agency the targets can be very specific –first time parents for a children’s immunization campaign or a campaign to have the right time gap before the second child; smokers and their relatives for an anti-tobacco campaign; High risk groups like the youth and long distance lorry (truck) drivers to prevent STDs, etc. Like wise, a corporate CSR wing might want to reach out to their shareholders on how the company’s profits are raising the levels of primary education in the communities surrounding a plant in a remote part of the nation or how increased numbers of people from a community have access to potable water.
  • 35. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 35 ‘Where can I find mine?’ Stories are present all around you. Look around to source one. Ask why this issue, event or the action you have taken or plan to take, is unique in the bigger context? Try quantifying it. For example, if 95 of 100 kids aged 6-35 months found in a particular community or village are anaemic, against India’s national average of 79%*, the high rates of anaemia can be the reason for your story. Speak to the people you are working with to know the impact your work has had. If you see a story some where, the chance is your audiences will also be able to see it too, provided you convey the same in the right way. How about giving an ear to the experiences of your beneficiaries? Find out if the problems persist, have decreased or even increased. Start asking questions and you will realise getting out stories is not difficult. Stories are present all around you. You just need to look around to source one.
  • 36. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 36 Needless to say, stories need not be rosy all the time. There might be stories of your project not making a big difference in your beneficiaries’ lives, the reasons for which can be many. If the chief reason is insufficient funds, that can be a story to tell your donors the urgency of the situation, inspire them to walk that extra mile and request them to pitch in again with the amount needed to make the difference. You can make a story even after some time has passed by off an event or achievement. Recall the story of six blind men and the elephant. Your new story of an event gone by might show your audiences a hitherto unknown facet of the issue. Each part of the elephant’s body in the above context means a story with a different angle of the same event or project, or achievement, but ultimately pointing out to the bigger picture, that the elephant is a huge Remember the story of the six blind people and the elephant? Your story of an event gone by might show your audiences a hitherto unknown facet of the issue.
  • 37. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 37 land animal with different parts of its body contributing to its strength. * NFHS3, National Family Health Survey, India, 2005-2006 ‘Whom to feature and what to write in my story?’ If you have seen the Bollywood movie Swades, recollect the part where Mohan Bhargav (Shahrukh Khan) accompanies Mela Ram (Daya Shankar Pandey) to recover the rent of Kaveri amma’s (Kishori Ballal) farmland from her peasant tenant in a village in India’s hinterland. This followed by the child selling water in earthen cups to the train passengers. You have multiple characters and plots that you can relate to in those scenes. You could be the well settled NRI who is hit hard and left speechless on witnessing the struggle for a couple of meals a large no: of Indians face daily. In the half-naked kid selling water you might see the street kids that you run into every day on the way to your office. I for myself relate my grand parents and great grand parents to the poor farmer finding it hard to feed his family. It took a lot of hard work for their generations to break away from the cycle of abject poverty and destituteness and for my father, his siblings as well as cousins to come up in life. So, whom do you identify yourself in those scenes with? Do you see your project beneficiaries facing or having faced a
  • 38. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 38 similar scenario and can you try conveying this as a story to your audiences? In the above scenes, you have the following that make up the story: a) Actors or characters: These answer the question ‘Who should feature in my story?’ b) Plot: This answers ‘What to write in my story?’ c) A central thread: This answers ‘what connects the different actors and plots’. Now let us go a bit more deep into the above three. a) Actors/ characters: These are the ones that your plot encircles. Though there can be multiple actors or characters, all present within the main plot, there needs to be at least one The Bollywood movie Swades has multiple characters and plots that you can relate to in the popular ‘child and train’ scene. Source: www.swades.com
  • 39. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 39 character whom your audience can readily identify or associate with or even replace them selves with. A central character adds the much needed personal touch to make your story attractive to your audiences. It helps your audiences feel the emotions – the pain, joy, sorrow, hope, of your beneficiaries and show the urgency of the problem and the subsequent need to intervene and make a positive difference. The actor can even be you. There can be more than one central character, as in a group of volunteers or a group of jawans (soldiers) involved in rescue and relief operations. Note: In the part of the movie Swades mentioned above, the actors are the individuals whom I have highlighted. b) Plots: Plots are the different scenarios of the issues and characters you are working on. And guess what? Finding them is not difficult. Your plot can be the narration by a contented child on how benefits from your project help her prevent sleeping on an empty stomach. Hearing this will give immense satisfaction to your donors. The other way round, in the Actors are those whom the plot encircles.
  • 40. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 40 absence of your project the same child could be desperately looking for help as she/ he is being forced into manual labour to feed herself in the absence of support from her/ his poor parents. This plot can make a story for your donors on how your intervention is needed as is their financial support, to help that kid. Note: In the part of the movie Swades mentioned above, the two plots I have referred to are of the farmer not having money to pay his land rent and the boy struggling to meet ends by selling water. c) A Central thread: There is one thread that binds the lead, body and conclusion. It is the central theme that connects the character/s to the plot and ensures nothing in the story is present without a purpose. It can be the poverty in a city neighbourhood; a disease epidemic that has hit a Plots are the different scenarios of the issues and characters you are working on. Central thread connects the character to the plot.
  • 41. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 41 remote village; or, the lack of education among the youth of a certain section of the society - something that stands out in the bigger scheme of things. Note: In the part of the movie Swades mentioned above, the central thread is poverty. When to write (and use)? As mentioned earlier (Chapter 2, Fitting your story into your overall organisational strategy) you don't necessarily need to have achieved the objectives of your project or funding before starting to tell stories to your stakeholders. Stories can be sourced and told either before intervention or at various stages into it. 1) Before: A story before you begin your project can show your stakeholders the gravity of issues facing your subjects and the potential to make a difference. It can therefore be used to invite funding from would be donors. In the case of issue-based campaigns, such a story can be a launch pad to gain public support, as seen in the case Stories can be sourced and told either before intervention or at various stages into it
  • 42. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 42 of the ‘Save our Tigers’ campaign by telecommunications company Aircel. 2) During: As the intervention is happening, a story can show the progress you have made. It can make the fence sitters– both among the donors and public, switch to your side and aid your campaign objectives. The other way around, for some reason if the results are not coming in as expected, one good way to convince your stakeholders of the challenges you are facing is by giving a name and a human face to these challenges. This can help you prepare your stakeholders for a potential extension of the project deadline. 3) After: Once you have completed your project, you can use stories in many ways to show the benefits your work has brought to the target audiences or communities. Or again, if the results have not been as projected, these can be a good way to explain your stakeholders the failures and the lessons learnt. So…have you thought over the stories you want to start writing? Go ahead. Construct them. Present them. Use their power to captivate your audiences.
  • 43. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 43 Sourcing stories from colleagues or the field offices: Below is a ‘STORY INFORMATION FORM’ that I developed for the communication team of the Species and Landscapes Programme, WWF-India in Oct. 2011 to help generate stories from the field. You may use it to develop a similar one for your organisation to help generate content for stories. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- (i) Story type: (please tick one) Category Significance Subject/ Header [ ] Category 1: Media & news section stories Most urgent These stories are of pressing events and most urgent news, hence given prominence. They need to be sent out immediately and should not be delayed even by a day. Examples: - Sikkim earthquake relief; - Tiger report release; - Dudhwa floods; - Sundarbans cyclone; - Awards etc. [ ] Category 2: Important These are also Examples: - Brown bear sighting in Kargil;
  • 44. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 44 Interesting developments and sightings usually uploaded on a priority basis, although not the same day as we receive them. - Snow leopard sighting in Kargil; - Black pika sighting in Arunachal Pradesh. [ ] Category 3: Success of our interventions Normal Any positive impact of our work can go as a story provided there are eyewitness accounts of the people who have benefited from the same. Examples: - A forest guard telling us how our support in the form of a wireless set has increased the efficiency of his anti- poaching efforts. - A Pardi student from Panna who is telling how she/ he has benefited from our support to the school for Pardis, in turn eliminating her/ his need to hunt wildlife or reduce dependence on the forest resources. (ii) Date of event: ______________(or) Date range of activity: ____________to ___________ (iii) Names and designations of WWF-India staff involved:
  • 45. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 45 1) _____________________ 2) _____________________ 3) _____________________ (iv) Names and designations of Forest Department or Government officials involved: 1) _____________________ 2) _____________________ (v) Multimedia available: [ ] Video [ ] High res photos (5 MP & above) (vi) Impact of the activity/ event seen or measured (or expected): __________________________________________________ ___________________________ __________________________________________________ ___________________________ __________________________________________________ ___________________________ (vii) Statements by eyewitness (WWF-India staff, Forest Department/ Government officials, villagers/ community dwellers, tourists or any one impacted by the activity/ event): 1) ____________________________________________ ___________________________
  • 46. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 46 _______________________________________________ ___________________ 2) ____________________________________________ ___________________________ _______________________________________________ ___________________ 3) ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________ __________ (viii) References, if any: __________________________________________________ ___________________________ __________________________________________________ ___________________________ (ix) Contact person for further information: Name - _________________________ Email: ____________________________________ Phone No:s – Cell - _____________________ Landline - ( ) ____________________ Best time to call - __________________ (x) Additional info/ Comments: (Please use extra sheet/s if needed)
  • 47. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 47 - __________________________________________________ _________________________ - __________________________________________________ _________________________ Chapter exercise 1. Make a quick trip to one of your project sites and list three different stories that you have come across. 2. Can you identify 3 different types of audiences to tell your stories? 3. List five reasons why you want to write a particular story for your donors. 4. Identify a story and your target audience. List the main characters and the plot. 5. Open your annual calendar of projects, a) Prepare a list of ‘curtain raisers’ or stories that can be written before each project. b) Prepare a list of probable stories that can be written half way through each project. c) Prepare a list of probable stories that can be written at the end of first week and first month, after the projects’ conclusion.
  • 48. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 48 FURTHER RESOURCES Bruce Itule & Douglas Anderson. “News Writing and Reporting for Today’s Media”. 3rd. Edition, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994. Official website of Swades, 2004 Health worker Guide, National Tobacco Control Programme, 2010 * NFHS3, National Family Health Survey, India, 2005-2006 Six Blind Men And The Elephant, Teaching English, British Council
  • 49. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 49 News or feature? What are planning to write about? Is it a freshly concluded event or a success of yours that you have ‘discovered’ recently? Answering this will pave way for the creation of either a feature or a news story. In a famous study, Galtung and Ruge (1973) have identified a set of conditions, informally known as ‘news values’, which need to be fulfilled for an event to gather enough attention and be called ‘news’. We shall leave the details for the mass communication students to explore and list only the basic differences between news and a feature story for our vested interest here. A news story has ‘shelf life,’ beyond which it will not make an interesting read. It can go out in the immediate aftermath of an 4. Writing your story
  • 50. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 50 event, to convey its urgency. Also, a news story is written in the inverted pyramid style, meaning the most important information or the information about the incident or event is told in the very beginning followed by the least interesting parts appearing towards the end. This means the five Ws: Whom, Where, Who, What, When and the H: How appear at the beginning of a news story. Illustration: Inverted pyramid style of writing used in news story
  • 51. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 51 But when things settle down you can select the different characters and plots to make feature stories out of them. In a feature story, unlike news story, the most important facts are included in the body and explained in detail after taking the readers through a small journey to the event/ achievement. A feature story might give you more time to research and use your creativity than news, as there is a time gap between the actual event and the point of time when it is being told or retold. Please see examples further ahead in this chapter. Length On the widely used computer monitor screen of 600 x 800 pixels, any feature story more than 2 screen lengths might make your readers loose interest. Hence, don’t make the story too long, unless it is a blog where you are expected to say more than what is said so in other narrative forms. I normally write a 700-word story for the web. This runs into two A4 sized pages with 6 paragraphs in New Times Roman point 12 font separated by 1.5 point space. Constructing a story Stories, both news and feature, traditionally are composed of the following three parts:
  • 52. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 52 1) Lead 2) Body and 3) Conclusion The following bring sense to the story parts: a) Transitions and b) Quotes All the above need proper organisation and clarity to bring sense to the story. 1) Lead: A lead is the introductory paragraph of your story. In a few brief sentences it should tell the reader what the story is about or hint at what to expect as they read further. Use words and construct your sentences in a way that interests your readers to complete their reading of your story. In a two screen length web story of 650 – 700 words, you may want to use 4 to 5 sentences totalling about 100 words as lead. These sentences can be built in the following way: A lead is the introductory paragraph of your story.
  • 53. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 53 i) One or two sentences introducing your subject or actors: Show the subject or actor/s as a part of the bigger picture, which your audience can relate to or knows of. Is it a geographical location or a person? If it is a location, then is it a village, city, area in a city, district, state or is it an interstate region? Is it an island or is it located among the hills, or in the plains fed by a perennial river? If it is an actor/s, is that person/s a city dweller/s, resident/s of a village or tribal/s who is/ are far away from modern amenities like satellite TV and internet. Is that person/s, a government officer/s or a volunteer/s? ii) One or two sentence on the importance of your subject/ actors: Explain why that place or person is important. Is the place the scene of high incidences of water borne diseases? Is the actor an eight-year old boy who is doing hard labour instead of being in school? Or are the actors a group of villagers living in a perennially water starved place? Is the place home to rare wildlife? In a feature story you can keep the suspense by restricting your lead to the first two paragraphs and revealing the plot in the body.
  • 54. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 54 In case of a news story you will have to add plot and conclusion in the lead, as mentioned below in point iii). iii) Speak about the achievement/ event: Add a sentence or two on these events, incidents or achievements. Have the Government authorities done something good that has not been done in other parts of the region, country or world, in that particular situation? Example: The building of an underpass on a national highway to allow, elephants to pass through smoothly without fighting with humans and vehicles for space? Has the person, organisation or community in focus done something against great odds? Example: A community or group of villagers living in a water deficit area who have volunteered time to build a community structure like a rain water harvesting unit, pooling in their own money. Or is a rural community facing an unusual situation, something that needs urgent attention? Example: The sudden spike in the number of people having respiratory illness in a particular village. Note: The above part (iii) is applicable to news story only In a feature story the body reveals the main plot.
  • 55. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 55 2) Body: In a feature story the body reveals the main plot of the story and it is the section where you give out all the details relevant to the overall thought process behind creating this story. In terms of percentage of the word content of a feature story, I allot 85% to the body and conclusion (550 to 600 words in a web-story) and the rest to the lead. Body is the place where you include the different quotes to give your readers a ‘horse’s mouth’ perspective, as well as transitions that tie the different quotes and make readers to look the way you want them to and think the way you want them to. a) Quotes: Quotes allow you to make full use of your interviewing skills. In a feature story this is where you go into the details of these five Ws: Whom, Where, Who, What, When and the H: How. At the beginning of the interview ask open-ended questions and allow the other person to speak freely to rake in as much information as you can (which can always be edited later on). As you progress, you can take help of close- ended questions - whose answers end with either a firm ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
  • 56. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 56 b) Transitions: They bind various parts of a feature story and allow readers to shuffle seamlessly between its various sections. They are the threads which tie those parts of the story that resemble one another and help better understand the similarities i.e. the ideas in the story that are common. You can use facts you have acquired from different sources as well as through research and interviews of people to reinforce your views. Transitions are paraphrases of actual statements of your sources or refer to a quote introducing a new idea in the story. They give you the flexibility to paraphrase quotes your audiences may find difficult to grasp, by converting them into reader friendly language and as said earlier they help your audiences look in the direction you want them to. Transitions bind various part of a feature story.
  • 57. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 57 3) Conclusion: This is where you have your ‘final word’ on the feature story and take the reader beyond the plot to draw inferences from it (the plot). Restricting the conclusion to two sentences of the last paragraph may be a good idea to pack the needed punch in it. Here are some situational examples. If the local communities or the Government authorities have done something that is very unique to that part of the world or situation, would you recommend other people to replicate the same? Or, has your agency or organisation supported the above and would like your donors to take satisfaction in their association with your work? You can have an interesting end by using the last sentence to convey the meaning behind your entire story. This can be the paraphrasing of a quote, or better, the quote itself, which completes the cycle of your story and connects it back to its lead. The final sentence completes the cycle of your story and connects it back to its lead.
  • 58. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 58 Lead Body Conclusion Ilustration: A visual representation of the feature story cycle Organisation and clarity The story parts need to be organised and there should be a clear purpose of everything included. i) Clarity of thought: Ensure the thoughts you put in your sentences are clear, precise and succinct. Choose the right words. Ensure your sentences are complete and leave no doubt about the point you are making. ii) Length of sentences: Anything above twenty words in a sentence might bore your readers, particularly on the web. Maintain the right balance by suitably blending small and long
  • 59. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 59 sentences to ensure the story is not monotonous. Imagine how a story teller or your grandparents narrated you stories. Put yourself in their place and presume the audience you are writing the story to, is actually sitting in front, looking into your eyes and keenly listening to you. iii) Alternate text forms and graphics: Including tables or boxes highlighting text can supplement or compliment your story’s content. The same goes with maps and images. And, if you choose to include them, ensure they are clear and convey the information you intend to. Use discretion to ensure there is no excessive duplication of information with text and illustrations/ images. Choosing the header/ title 1) Include a title that tells your audience what your story is about. 2) The title is the ‘gateway’ to your story. You should ensure it is The title is the gateway to your story. It is your invitation to your audience to walk through it and witness the beautiful world that lies inside.
  • 60. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 60 decorated enough to invite your audiences to walk through it and witness the beautiful world that lies inside. 3) You may also want to use a sub-title, which offers additional space to inform audiences the issue and your solution, or the follow-up action you have taken. 4) Care should be taken to ensure the sub-title supplements the title and not be the title or header by itself. 5) If the story you would like to make is for a project that is yet to be initiated, the title can be the problem/ issue and an initiative you have taken to resolve that problem can be the subtitle. On the other hand, if you have achieved something significant, then it makes sense to have the same as a bold header and a line below it telling the magnitude of the problem solved. 6) Section or paragraph headers can be included to summarise contents of the upcoming text. It is a good way to guide the readers in the direction in which your story is moving.
  • 61. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 61 Example of a feature story Published on WWF-India website, on 14 April 2010 Pardis - hunters in need of help How changing times have turned against a traditional hunting community Ameen Ahmed An adventurous people Hardly has a community in India’s recent history been more affected by changing laws and times, as the Pardis, a nomadic tribe of Central India, have. Spread across the states of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh as well as along the latter’s borders with Rajasthan; the traditional occupation of a majority of Pardis is hunting and selling wildlife derivatives, including meat. The erstwhile Maharajas used their skills in their hunting expeditions. Pardis used to drive the wildlife towards the kings’ hunting parties. They would also indulge in hunting expeditions or ‘hakas’ and provide meat to royal kitchens. They would be
  • 62. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 62 rewarded in return. Many farmers in Central India used Pardis to guard against crop raiding wild herbivores. The Pardis would halt over in farmlands and trap the crop raiders. In return, they would benefit from temporary shelter to stay around villages as well as get to retain the hunted animals’ meat, which they would consume and also sell. Over centuries, they honed their hunting skills this way. Their various occupations and hunting practises evolved them into different sub- castes. For example, the Phaandiya Pardis hunt their quarry using a rope noose. The Teliya Pardis sell meat and oil extracted from reptiles which they capture. But, the most remarkable aspect of hunting by Pardis is their total dependence on traditional means and basic equipment, like twines, wooden clubs (lathis) and The Teliya Pardis sell meat and oil of reptiles that they hunt. © Ameen Ahmed/ WWF-India
  • 63. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 63 knives to bring down wildlife. They rarely use a search light, vehicles, guns or electricity. There are also some among them who moved away from nomadic life and settled down to practice agriculture. Troubled times: Post independence and Wildlife Protection Act (1972) Some Pardis like Langoti Pardis have been attributed with thievery since a long time. However, the British treated a majority of Pardis as social pariahs. Most of their sub-sects were included in the list of ‘criminal’ tribes in the Criminal Tribes Act notified in 1871. Though the act was over turned in 1952, after Independence, and they were ‘denotified,’ the historical stigma continues to haunt them. Pardis had to endure more post-1972, when the Government of India brought into effect the Wildlife Protection Act. They were not only prohibited from entering many of the Government controlled lands that are now designated as protected forests - national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, but they were also required to stop hunting overnight. With hundreds of years of practice and perfection in making a living out of hunting, they
  • 64. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 64 were suddenly left without a profession they could legally practise. With no formal and organised training and assistance provided to them to earn their bread in any other way, they covertly continued with their hunting practices. According to Mr. Golla Krishnamurthy, IFS, who has served for Panna Tiger Reserve in the past “They mainly hunt big game and trade their skin with middlemen located in cities for further illegal export. They hunt animals like deer, wild boar and other small herbivores for staple food on a day to bay basis”. The Wildlife Protection Act’s implementation in 1972 suddenly turned the Pardis from traditional hunters to poachers.
  • 65. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 65 Added was the problem of them being an ex-‘criminal’ tribe and the fact that they were nomads. Village after village across their vast land of existence viewed them suspiciously and prevented them from living close to their habitation. There are reports in the media of this happening even to this day. This discrimination and blanket denial of opportunities may have actually prevented them from giving up poaching as well as criminal activities and may have even encouraged them to indulge in them for their survival. The way forward According to sources in the Madhya Pradesh Forest Department, a vast amount of the wildlife poached in that state, particularly in and around Panna Tiger Reserve, has links to Pardis. Most of India’s big wildlife WWF-India has been helping run the schools for Pardi kids © Diwakar Sharma/ WWF-India
  • 66. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 66 traders and illegal trade mafia have used them to source their wildlife. Their links to poaching have surfaced in many other forests across India, even in the core of well-known sanctuaries like Karnataka’s Rajiv Gandhi (Nagarahole) National Park, over a thousand kilometres away from Panna. The challenge lies in rehabilitating them into the social mainstream. Many wildlife lovers and NGOs have thought on this and are making concerted efforts to save both the Pardis and the wildlife around Panna Tiger Reserve. The strategy has been to wean their children away from turning to hunting as a profession by providing them formal education. To initiate formal education for their children, WWF-India along with the forest department has been conducting a ‘Residential bridge course’ (RBC), at two locations around Panna, under the Government supported ‘Sarva Shiksha Abyiyaan’ (‘Education for all’) scheme. The bridge course is 9 month long and prepares these kids to enter a state-administered formal education system. Their stay at the student hostel helps them get into the mainstream by inculcating physical hygiene. Says Mr. Krishnamurthy “They live for months without bathing. Most of
  • 67. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 67 them lack general hygienic habits”. A residential school has been specially set up for this in Panna District. Simultaneously the adults are being trained in alternative professions. It is felt that those who do not wish to do either should be dealt with a firm hand according to provisions of the law. “This school for Pardi kids has few parallels as it not only aims at mainstreaming a nomadic tribe but also aims at holistic development of the entire area by attempting to interlink solutions for the problems faced by the wildlife and forest department”, adds Mr. Krishnamurthy. The devastating impact which the Pardis have had on the wildlife around them is undoubted, Learn more on WWF-India’s initiatives to conserve the tiger in Central India:  Increased protection for Panna  Satpuda-Maikal Landscape  Kanha-Achanakmar Corridor  Education and awareness campaign in MP and Chhattisgarh.  Marathon for Tiger in SML  Strengthening law enforcement in Maharashtra’s tiger areas
  • 68. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 68 especially after the degradation of wildlife habitat outside and within some of the PAs. The irony however is, there is no future for wildlife, particularly tigers, in vast parts of India, without rehabilitating these people from hunting. Their future generations have to be weaned away from poaching to save India’s wildlife. These schools are a step by the MP Forest Department and WWF-India in that direction. ------------- End of story ------------- Example of a news story Published on WWF-India website, 29 Mar 2011 Increase in tiger numbers reported Experts’ meeting at New Delhi to help save the tiger concludes New Delhi, India – The Government of India released new tiger population numbers since the 2007 estimate, indicating that numbers have increased in the country that has half of the world’s remaining wild tigers. The findings were presented by Dr. Y.V. Jhala of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) on the opening day of the International Tiger Conference held at New
  • 69. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 69 Delhi on 28 and 29 Mar 2011, to a gathering of dignitaries from the Government of India including Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, Shri. Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister for Environment and Forests and Shri. Salman Khursheed, Union Minister for Water Resources, international delegates from tiger range countries, senior forest officers, Chief Wildlife Wardens, Field Directors of Tiger reserves and members of NGOs working for tiger conservation including WWF and TRAFFIC. The government estimated current tiger numbers in India at 1,706, up from 1,411 during the last count in 2007. However, Dr. Jhala from WII explaining the tiger estimation results as dignitaries of Government of India Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Shri. Jayaram Ramesh, Shri. Salman Kursheed and Shri. Rajesh Gopal watch. Photo: WWF-India
  • 70. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 70 the 1,706 figure includes an additional tiger reserve in the count, the Sundarbans that contained 70 tigers. This area was not counted in 2007. Therefore, when comparing the previous survey with the current one, the official estimate stands at 1,636 when leaving out the Sundarbans, or an increase of 225. Figures were broken down by site with some populations showing increases, and others falling. “As seen from the results, recovery requires strong protection of core tiger areas and areas that link them, as well as effective management in the surrounding areas,” said Mike Baltzer, Head of WWF’s Tigers Alive Initiative. “With these two vital conservation ingredients, we can not only halt their decline, but ensure tigers make a strong and lasting comeback.” The count was conducted by India’s National Tiger Conservation Authority with key partners, including WWF, in the largest tiger population survey ever undertaken.
  • 71. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 71 “In its detail, this tiger estimation exercise shows the importance India attaches to this prime conservation issue,” said WWF India CEO Ravi Singh. “The results indicate the need to intensify field based management and intervention to go beyond the present benchmark, bringing more people and partners into the process,” he added. Several areas in India, including those that are not Tiger Reserves and outside national parks, were intensively surveyed for the first time. The Moyar Valley and Sigur Plateau in Southwest India’s Western Ghats Complex, that has been a focus of recent WWF conservation efforts, was found to contain more than 50 tigers. Similarly, the Ramnagar Forest Reserve outside Corbett National Park showed a good number of tigers. Numbering more than 100,000 at the turn of the last century, tigers have lost more than 97 percent of their population and 94 percent of their home range in just 100 years. They live in increasingly isolated pockets of land in Asia and the Russian Far East in Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, China and Russia. The Global Tiger Recovery Programme marks the
  • 72. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 72 first formalized international initiative to save the species from extinction. ------------- End of story ------------- Writing styles The channel of dissemination and the target audiences guide the writing styles. If you are writing for a magazine or newspaper outside your organisation, the publication’s submission guidelines need to be read carefully before you begin to construct a story. Next, browse the last few issues of the publication and work on a story style which the editors have a taste for. If you are writing something for your own website, journal or e- magazine, you have at a greater liberty to let loose your creativity. To convey your message you may want to choose your own style which conforms to your organisation’s accepted writing style guide. Some tips to decide the right mix for your audiences: 1) If you write frequently (or intend to do so) for a medium like your website or magazine, or have plans for a
  • 73. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 73 regular feature for a newspaper, change your story style over a period of time. The monotony of repeating the same style each time might lead to your readers loosing interest in your writings sooner or later. Balance the style between first person and third person accounts as you progress. 2) Have you ever thought of narrating any of your journeys as you have eye witnessed it? How about trekking through a jungle to reach a primary school in a tribal hamlet or wading through the slush filled narrow lanes of a city’s slum and narrating your audiences the things you witness, as you take those steps? If you are working for animal rights or wildlife issues, how about having an ‘eyewitness’ account of an animal ‘narrating’ its plight? 3) Even with first or third person accounts, you can choose to be different with each successive story. You can alternate between starting with narrating your own experience or describing the subject i.e. the place, person etc first. For example, if you are describing a walk to a slum area where children are in dire need of basic needs and education and you are focusing on a girl called Khushi you may start a third person account in one of the following ways.
  • 74. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 74 a) Khushi is not a normal five-year old though she could have been one, like many others of her age. All she remembers of her childhood is begging at the traffic lights along the only tarred road her neighbourhood has; being abused by unknown faces; sleeping hungry on the streets; and watching her year- old brother freeze to death in one of the five winters she’s seen in her life after being forced to beg to feed him. Her mother died a few weeks ago and her alcoholic father needs help himself! She is one of the many kids living in Kushalnagar, a slum of twenty thousand inhabited by some of the city’s educationally and financially most backward communities, right in the heart of the state capital. It seems the city’s planners and Do not repeat your stories in the same style every time. The monotony might lead to your readers loosing interest in your writings, sooner or later.
  • 75. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 75 development authorities have long forgotten Kushalnagar. The problems are compounded by the area’s many residents being mostly poor migrants from faraway villages, being uneducated even to file an application under Right to Information (RTI) Act. Writing letters to the authorities or filling petitions in courts to get their civic rights is obviously a far cry for them. But Khushi, and other kids from her neighbourhood, will soon return to being like others of her age, thanks to the intervention of this Government aided NGO. OR b) Kushalnagar is a slum of 20 thousand inhabited by some of the city’s educationally and financially most backward communities, right in the heart of the state capital. It looks like a neighbourhood long forgotten by the city’s planners and development authorities. The area’s many residents are mostly poor migrants from faraway villages with their education level not even helping them file an application under Right to Information (RTI) Act, let alone writing letters to the authorities or filing petitions in courts to get their civic rights. Khushi, a five year old girl, is among the many children who are in danger of following the
  • 76. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 76 footsteps of their parents into poverty and deprivation. She is one among the many children in this slum who are forced to beg, sleep hungry, get abused and even see their siblings freeze to death in the cold winters, due to poverty. With her mother dead a few weeks ago and her father an alcohol addict, she is in dire need of support to lead a normal life and get into school. Thanks to the intervention of this Government aided NGO, she will soon return to being like any other kid. Caption and cutline While some refer to the text appearing below an image describing it as both caption and cutline, often interchanging them, some others prefer to differentiate the two. According to the later school of thought, caption is the small headline usually consisting of three to four words that is followed by a brief text explaining the photograph, called as cutline. I prefer to use the caption with a cutline for images in photo-stories, while sticking to only a caption for images used in feature stories. See examples below.
  • 77. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 77 It’s our world too! A group of indigenous people stand in front of a replica of world atlas at the Press Club in New Delhi on 28 Aug. 2010. Various environmental and tribal rights groups under the umbrella of Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA) held a press meet highlighting the growing threat of Global Warming and the urgent need to address it. © Ameen Ahmed/ WWF-India
  • 78. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 78 Captions (and cutlines) explain something in images that are not self-explanatory; or they refer to the text in the story. Many readers rush through the title, the lead, paragraph headings and the images before deciding if they want to go through the body, hence the captions should explain the image in a crisp and brief manner. Sometimes a sentence or a quote from the story is used as the caption. Please see the above example. The Teliya Pardis sell meat and oil of reptiles that they hunt. © Ameen Ahmed
  • 79. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 79 Also, when using still images in a movie or an audio-visual presentation, captions come handy in the absence of background narration or voice over. Pictures to accompany stories If you have images accompanying stories, ensure the images are directly related to your story line, place, theme or the characters. If you are using an archived image, make sure you mention the same. The rapid urbanisation sweeping India has changed the face of many a place. You do not want an image showing swanky malls and newly refurbished roads for a neighbourhood whose approach is being described in your story as unhygienic and filled with pot holes. Editing the image for colour saturation, brightness and contrast, sharpening etc is a good idea to ensure the stories’ subjects are clearly visible to the audiences. Although this is the job of a photo editor or a designer, if you work for a set-up which can afford the luxury of in-house specialists it is imperative that the stories authors’ ensure the colours are as close to the original.
  • 80. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 80 Chapter exercise 1. Open your annual plan and prepare lists of events that can have news stories and those which can have feature stories. 2. Identify an event and write a lead for: a) News story. b) Feature story. 3. Choose a story from a news magazine and rewrite a conclusion. Get it reviewed by a colleague to see if it leaves an equally lasting impression. 4. Choose a story from a news magazine and list the transitions. FURTHER RESOURCES Shouse, Deborah;Fenner, Susan Ph.D.;Zoglin, Ron. “Making Your Message Memorable: Communicating Through Stories”. 2003 Practical Magazine “Feature Writing/ Documentary Forms,”
  • 81. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 81 The University of Winchester Abraham Aamidor. “Real feature writing: story shapes and writing strategies from the real world of journalism”. LEA; 2nd edition, 2009. Joseph J. Marks. “Writing Features.” University of Missouri. Extension. 1993 “Feature writing”. University of Missouri Extension. ‘Feature writing’. Vancouver University Island. Dr. Lourdes D. Servito. ‘What is feature writing?’ ‘How NGOs can use the images that Photographers produce! (5 ideas)’ ‘How to create simple digital stories’ Lecture notes of macro editing, Rowan University copy editing class http://web.ku.edu/~edit/captions.html William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of Kansas.
  • 82. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 82
  • 83. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 83 Revision After writing the first draft, you need to ensure your story conveys what you want it to. As a first step, revisit the ideation part and see if your story includes the original ideas. Open your story cycle and make sure the end (last paragraph) is connecting with the issue mentioned in the lead (first paragraph). Make sure the body contains the important facts that need to be there. Ensure the central thread connecting different parts of the story and the flow of your thoughts is maintained as you originally desired. Ensure you have not included any words or statements out of the context before you to take the next step and have it edited. Editing A story is first edited to ensure it meets the word limit i.e. the number of words allotted to you or the limit you have set for your self. Be cautious and ensure only the non-essential 5. Proofreading and Editing
  • 84. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 84 sentences are removed or are altered in such a way that the ideas you originally wanted to convey remain undiluted. Self editing: You can edit the story yourself or ask some one to do it for you. Organisations that do not have editors prefer to let their writers do the editing as well, particularly when the deadlines are shorter. If you are editing your own story it is a good idea to step away from it at least for a day to ensure you are able to see it afresh in an unbiased manner. I personally finish a story and preferably work on another to ensure minimal hangover of the first one before I come back to first, usually after a day. Levels of editing: a) Basic copy editing is done to ensure consistency and correct any mistakes in the following - spelling, grammar, punctuation, speech, capitalisation, uniformity of fonts and numerals, abbreviations and captions. b) More detailed editing involves additional checking for smooth continuity and flow of ideas, organisation of the story, ensuring smooth transitions and proper conclusion, matching the paragraphs with their headers and correcting incorrect figures of speech. This might also involve getting back to the author to ensure correct
  • 85. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 85 attribution of quotes, verifying factual accuracy of statements, buying OK to replace jargon with more commonly used words and suggesting replacement and addition or deletion of statements. Like brand guidelines, many organisations have their own ‘writing style guides’, which are rule books that help write stories or similar writings. Following a style guide helps in uniformity of your organisation’s writing style, particularly with grammar, punctuation and language use. Having such house rules not only help you and other writers maintain consistency in writings but also ensure minimal need for a copy editor. Proof reading Proof reading is the final step before submitting your story for publication. It identifies the mistakes that have eluded your eyes during revision and copy editing. It corrects any errors like typos, misnumbering or other errors which a copy editor might have overlooked. Again, if you are from a small organisation where there is no dedicated proof-reader, it is a good idea to have a colleague proof read your stories before you send them to the press or before you publish the same online. I personally run my stories through a colleague while ensuring the corrections do not change the story’s inferences.
  • 86. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 86 Additionally, in case of an online story, once it is published I re- read it on the browser to ensure there are no major bloopers and that there is no need to initiate damage control later on. An example of revision and editing: Saving the Red Panda in Arunachal Pradesh through Community Participation Local villagers come together to form a unique red panda conservation alliance The red panda (Ailurus fulgens), classified as a Vulnerable species by IUCN*, is found in parts of Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Southern China and India. In India, it is found in the states of Sikkim, northern West Bengal, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh. Majority of the population of red pandas in India occurs in Arunachal Pradesh. However, increasing habitat loss poses a major threat to the survival of the red panda. WWF-India has been working in the Western Arunachal Landscape (WAL), which covers nearly 7000 sq. km area of Tawang and West Kameng districts in partnership with local villagers, Indian Army and Forest Department, for the conservation of the rich biological diversity of the state, since 1992. In WAL, maximum forest area is under the customary
  • 87. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 87 tenure of local indigenous communities. In 2004, WWF-India facilitated the establishment of Community Conserved Areas (CCA) to ensure sustainable management and community protection of such forests. One such CCA is the Pangchen Lumpo Muchat CCA, which comprises of Lumpo and Muchat villages. According to Nawang Chota, Secretary of Pangchen Lumpo Muchat CCA, “After the formation of the CCA, we stopped hunting and fishing in it, especially by outsiders. We also started community based tourism to provide a source of income to the villagers.” Recently, three other villages, Socktsen, Kharman and Kelengteng came together to form the Pangchen Socktsen Lakhar CCA. Together, the two CCAs control 200 sq km of area. The forests that are part of this CCA harbour a wide variety of wildlife including the red panda. While formation of the CCAs stopped the hunting of wild animals, the continued loss of habitat posed a threat to the long term survival of the red panda. To prevent this villagers from the two CCAs came together to form a unique Pangchen Red Panda Conservation Alliance with the support of Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and WWF- India. The aim of this community initiative is to help in red panda conservation by not only banning hunting or capturing of
  • 88. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 88 red panda but by also preventing habitat loss and protecting the plant species on which the red panda is dependent. Pijush Dutta, Landscape Coordinator, WAL, WWF-India said, “With this one of a kind initiative it is hoped that conservation of red pandas can be undertaken in a scientific manner with proper records maintained of sightings by villagers. The next step is to prepare a detailed master plan in consultation with the villagers for the management of the forests in a sustainable manner”. By preventing habitat loss the alliance also hopes to mitigate man-animal conflict caused by animals such as wild boar, porcupines and monkeys raiding crops and villages. A Yak dung briquette unit is also under construction in the area to reduce fuel wood consumption as well as provide additional income. In addition, a Pangchen Tourism Package involving the 5 villages from the two CCAs is being developed to attract tourists and thereby provide an alternate source of livelihood for the locals. WWF-India will support the Conservation Alliance by undertaking a biodiversity documentation of the CCAs, conducting training courses for the villagers for sustainable
  • 89. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 89 management of local forests and support community based tourism as a conservation incentive. * Wang, X., Choudhury, A., Yonzon, P., Wozencraft, C. & Than Zaw 2008. Ailurus fulgens. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 09 December 2010 ------------- End of story ------------- The above story was edited with the following changes and published on WWF-India’s website: a) The introductory paragraph was revised and one sentence summarising each of the following was included, in the same order: 1) The uniqueness of red panda. 2) Ecology of red panda. 3) The issues it faces. 4) Community Conservation Areas (CCAs) 5) What WWF-India is continuing to do to conserve it. b) Three paragraph/ section headers were included to help readers better understand the ideas.
  • 90. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 90 c) The final sentence was put directly as a quote, to have a better impact of the story and to complete the story cycle by connecting it to the lead. Communities stand up for the Red Panda in Arunachal Pradesh Local villagers form a unique ‘conservation alliance’ for India’s own Panda A rare beauty Known for the beauty of its reddish-orange coat and white ‘teardrops’ falling away from its eyes, the red panda (Ailurus fulgens) is found in parts of Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Southern China and India. In India, it is found in the states of Sikkim, northern West Bengal, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh, where a majority of its population occurs. Classified as a Vulnerable species by IUCN*, increasing habitat loss poses a major threat to its survival. WWF-India is currently working with its stake holders to conserve this rare animal in most of its distribution range across North East India. Communities for nature Since 1992, WWF-India has partnered with local villagers, Indian Army and Forest Department in the Western Arunachal
  • 91. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 91 Landscape (WAL), which covers nearly 7000 sq. km. area of Tawang and West Kameng districts, to conserve its rich biological diversity. The maximum forest area in WAL is under the customary tenure of local indigenous communities. WWF- India facilitated the establishment of Community Conserved Areas (CCA) in 2004 to ensure sustainable management and community protection of such forests that also form the habitat of the red panda. One such CCA is the Pangchen Lumpo Muchat CCA, which comprises of Lumpo and Muchat villages. According to Nawang Chota, Secretary of Pangchen Lumpo Muchat CCA, “After the formation of the CCA we stopped hunting and fishing in it, and prevented outsiders from indulging in these as well. We also started community based tourism to provide a source of income to the villagers.” In November 2010, three other villages - Socktsen, Kharman and Kelengteng, came together to form the Pangchen Socktsen Lakhar CCA. Together the two CCAs control 200 sq. km. of area. The wide variety of wildlife found in these forests includes the red panda. While formation of the CCAs stopped the hunting of wild animals, the continued loss of habitat posed a threat to the long term survival of the red panda. To prevent
  • 92. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 92 this, villagers from the two CCAs came together to form the unique Pangchen Red Panda Conservation Alliance with the support of Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and WWF-India. The aim of this community initiative is to help red panda conservation not only by banning its hunting or capture, but also by preventing the habitat loss and protecting the plant species on which it is dependent. By preventing habitat loss the alliance also hopes to reduce human-wildlife conflict caused by wild animals such as wild boar, porcupines and monkeys raiding crops and villages. A Yak dung briquette unit is also under construction in the area to reduce fuel wood consumption and provide additional income. In addition, Pangchen Tourism Package involving five villages from the two CCAs is being developed to attract tourists and thereby provide an alternate source of livelihood for the locals. WWF-India’s continuing support Pijush Dutta, Landscape Coordinator, WAL, WWF-India said, “With this one of a kind initiative it is hoped that conservation of red pandas can be undertaken in a scientific manner with proper records maintained of sightings by villagers. The next step is to prepare a detailed master plan in consultation with
  • 93. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 93 the villagers for the management of the forests in a sustainable manner”. “WWF-India will support this Conservation Alliance by undertaking a biodiversity documentation of the CCAs, conducting training courses for the villagers for sustainable management of local forests and support community based tourism as a conservation incentive,” adds Pijush. * Wang, X., Choudhury, A., Yonzon, P., Wozencraft, C. & Than Zaw 2008. Ailurus fulgens. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 09 December 2010. ------------- End of story ------------- Chapter exercise 1. Prepare a list of five important things you would like to look for in revising your story. 2. Write a story. Edit it within an hour of its first revision. Keep it aside and re-edit it at the end of third day. Compare the changes between the first edit and the later one.
  • 94. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 94 3. Write a story. Proof read it within an hour of editing it. Have the same document proofread by a colleague or friend whose English is equally good or better. List the number of corrections done by the other person. FURTHER RESOURCES Kim Cooper, “Editing the Essay”. Writing Center at Harvard University, 1999 http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~wricntr/documents/edit1.html http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~wricntr/documents/edit2.html Kim Cooper, “Tips on Grammar, Punctuation and Style.” Writing Center at Harvard University, 1999 Editing and Proofreading, The Writing Center, University of Missouri thinkquest.org The writing process Editing Resources, Bay Area Editors’ Forum Salem State Style Guide, Salem State University
  • 95. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 95 Showcasing stories Stories can be used to: a) Inform the communities with whom you work or intend to work, the benefits they will get working with you for a common cause. b) Tell your donors (and shareholders of corporate) of the benefits their contributions have brought or in case of potential donors, the benefits they might bring. c) Stimulate fellow citizens, other NGOs or the corporate sector/ profit organisations to take up the various causes crying for attention in the development sector and help solve the issues. Mediums to disseminate stories: 1) In print, they can go in your organization’s annual reports, monthly magazines or even in flyers and brochures. You may 6. Disseminating your stories
  • 96. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 96 also want to place them in mainstream media to highlight the issues and your initiatives. Supplementary sections like Science and Technology, Environment, etc of prominent dailies are good avenues to showcase the issues, the possible solutions or the actions you have taken. 2) In New Media, apart from electronic communication, they can be used in social networking. Stories in e-bulletins or e- newsletters can have great impact and can be used to push for an organisation's campaign objectives - both donor campaigns and issue based ones. A view of Jungle Express, the e-bulletin of WWF-India’s Species and Landscapes programme
  • 97. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 97 Supplementary sections like Science and Technology, Environment etc of prominent dailies are good avenues to showcase your stories, issues, the possible solutions or the actions you have taken. Above is a story on the efforts of WWF-India and partner agencies in a Rhino translocation programme, in the Environment section of Deccan Herald, Bengaluru.
  • 98. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 98 Journey beyond the story and the call for action At the end of the conclusion you may like to invite your readers to take action. This is a journey away from the story cycle, to help solve issues and make a difference. In a brief but clear way explain your audiences how their small contribution fits into the bigger picture of resolving development sector issues as well as your long term strategy. Here you can reveal them your plan of action. For example, if your story focuses on the health crisis facing a community, it would help to be ready with answers to the following questions: - Do you want your stakeholders to help you? - If yes, how should they do so? Should they intervene directly or you want them to do it through you? - If through you, do you want them to volunteer time and skills or should they help you with money and resources? - Whom and how should they contact? - In case they do, do you have a well defined plan ready to share with them clearly conveying how you are going to use their support?
  • 99. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 99 Stories and social issues’ awareness: Stories are a powerful tool to create awareness on issues, apart from raising funds for them. Here is a case study on using a story for a campaign to generate awareness around an issue: The tiger is one of India’s best recognised symbols, not only of its wilderness but of its culture as well. The animal today is facing a threat to its survival due to a host of issues including poaching, development and infrastructure projects like highways and dams, apart from the growing human population eating into its habitat. In January 2010, Telecommunication giant Aircel’s ‘Save our Tigers’ campaign raised the profile of this charismatic big cat using a Source: Aircel
  • 100. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 100 simple yet powerful 1 minute video story striking at the emotional quotient. The story, which appeared as advertisement in all the major TV channels of India, showed a helpless tiger cub waiting for its mother to return, which probably would never do so, with a gunshot sound indicating it being hunted on its way back home. A few weeks after this ad was aired, a series of video clips of some of India's well-known celebrities including Indian Cricket team’s captain MS Dhoni appeared on TV, appealing to save the tiger. The media campaign was launched in partnership with WWF- India and as the communication liaison of WWF-India with Aircel, I kept track of the tremendous support this campaign generated from people across the breadth of India and even beyond. While some showed their support in the form of cyber activism, others came forward to commit their time and skills towards this cause by offering to volunteer with NGOs including WWF-India. This campaign successfully raised the public profile of the critical issue of tiger conservation. Speaking of the response in numbers, by 22 March 2010, 51 days after the campaign was launched the following figures were recorded: 1) Signups on Aircel’s ‘Save Our Tigers’ (SOT) campaign website: 2,03,361 2) Blog comments: 2,825
  • 101. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 101 3) Fans of ‘Stripey’ the cub’ page on Facebook : 2,04,919 4) Twitter followers: 5,619 The numerous requests from volunteers and the overwhelming media queries as well as positive media reports pleasantly surprised our team. Stories for NGO fundraising: Stories are probably the best way to raise funds for an NGO. Among the Fund Raising experts vouching for this is international NGO consultant Sean Triner. In his article ‘The power of storytelling’, Sean Triner tells how ‘Charities have the best stories to tell’ and ‘they can be powerful fundraising tools.’ Though e-newsletters & e-bulletins for donor and issue based campaigns is the norm in west, we are yet to see many of India’s NGOs do the same. Though the scope of this book does not encompass delving into the details of using stories to raise This fund is any NGO’s dream. Think out of the box on how you can use stories to raise the much needed ‘unrestricted funding’ for your NGO.
  • 102. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 102 funds, I would like to make a passing reference to the positive impact of raising funds through online donations and individual fundraising for a type of funding that is commonly termed as 'unrestricted' funding in NGO circles. Unrestricted funds can be used by an NGO for any project or purpose it deems fit within that organisation’s broad objectives. The NGO is not answerable to the donor on where it puts this money into, unlike regular funding where most donors are very particular about how and where their money should be put, like not exceeding a certain percentage of it for administration purposes or not using it as a capital to buy hardware, etc. Hence, unrestricted fund is any NGO’s dream. Think out of the box on how you can use stories to raise the much needed unrestricted funding for your NGO. Now that you have an idea on how to use your stories, go ahead. Pen your stories. Publish them. Disseminate them. See what your outreach communication has been missing all these days
  • 103. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 103 A step by step guide to write your story Step 1: Information. is received from the sources and the same is cross verified to ensure the names of subjects and actors - communities and regions as well as names and designations of people are correct; Step 2: Cross verifying events and dates (for example, has the World Heritage Site status been given for Manas Wildlife Sanctuary or the entire National Park? Or, when was the World Heritage Site tag given to the Taj Mahal?); Step 3: Story is written according to the organisation style guide; Step 4: Matching images are sourced and embedded in the story with appropriate captions and cut-lines; Step 5: If the story has been sourced from your field office, the same is sent to the concerned persons in that office for review of facts and picture credits and get their sign off. The same process applies if facts are sourced from your own office.
  • 104. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 104 Step 6: After receiving back the story from the field or from your office, proof reading and editing is done by a person other than the writer. Step 7: The concerned custodians read and sign off the story for release. Step 8: Follow up with external editors or media persons (if it is being to an external publication), PR agency (if you are using the services of a PR agency to disseminate the story) or your own web admin (if it is your web story) to ensure it reads the same as submitted as well as trouble shoot any issues. Step 9: Once the story is published share it on the pre-decided media and channels including social media sites like facebook or twitter. Step 10: Monitor for any positive feedback or adverse comments, particularly on the web page on which the story is hosted (if it is posted online). If it has been published in the print media, look out for letters to editor. Have a plan ready to respond to the same, if and when needed.
  • 105. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 105 Chapter exercise 1. Identify a story and make a list of the different channels in which you would like to disseminate it. 2. Ideate a story that you want to use to seek support of your audiences. List the number of ways in which the support can be sought. Make a plan on how you want to use the support, keeping in mind your organisation’s objectives for the year. 3. Research and prepare a list of the most visible campaigns in the development sector in India in the previous calendar year. FURTHER RESOURCES Rosita Cortez. “Got Stories? 3 Secrets to Successful Fundraising”. Fundraising. On 06.10.10 Sean Triner says how ‘Charities have the best stories to tell’ and ‘they can be powerful fundraising tools.’ www.resource-alliance.org
  • 106. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 106
  • 107. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 107 There are certain ground rules that one need to follow to ensure the objectives of writing stories are achieved. These can range from formal sets of policies binding on you as an employee or volunteer of an organisation, or they can be feedback as a member of an informal social group like a club or association. A few are listed here: Providing a personal touch to stories on animals Personal and individual stories about animals – wild or domesticated, make a positive impact just like individual stories of people. British anthropologist and zoologist Desmond Morris has said that the story of Elsa, the lioness raised by Joy Adamson, changed the public perception of the lion as a species. Same for Tara the tigress and Prince the 7. Improving your stories* *With Shubhobroto Ghosh
  • 108. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 108 leopard as written by Billy Arjan Singh, Dian Fossey's description of the gorilla Digit, Jane Goodall's affection for the chimpanzee David Greybeard and the individual orangutans studied by Birute Galdikaas. Keiko's personal story as shown in the Hollywood movie Free Willy has done much more to raise awareness on killer whales (orcas) than a lot of research papers put together could have ever have done on them. Why it pays to be politically correct The stories of any organisation reflect its policies. Hence, it pays to sound politically correct to your stake holders or at least ensure your choice of words conveys the meaning in an inoffensive way. This is more true if you are working with the Government or if your project or organisation needs the support of the government at any stage. The way, and amount, of editing of your stories by the final approving authority in your organisation over a period of time is a reflection of not only how your stories are being looked at from inside the organisation but also how they would be looked from outside by its many external stakeholders. Remember, many people’s sweat has gone into building your organisation’s resources and reputation. While the organisation will have its own checks to ensure you are following the guidelines, ultimately it is your
  • 109. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 109 duty to ensure you don’t write anything that puts the organisation’s reputation in the firing line. Continue what is working right for you Did some one say they liked your story? Great! Thank them for the positive feedback and ask them what they liked most about it. Occasionally I meet some one personally, whom I have known only through the internet, who tells me how much she or he still cherishes a story on some wilderness area which they read 12 - 13 years ago. When I am writing a new story, I try to recall the things some one liked about my story and think how that success can be repeated. It has always paid me to walk that extra mile and make an honest attempt to write stories that will inspire my readers to read them and also keenly anticipate the upcoming ones. Accept feedback honestly What you have written might make perfect sense to you, but there may be people who have been around you long enough and feel other wise. These might be your friends, colleagues or those reporting to you. Respect honest criticism with humility and take it to your advantage. The feedback of your readers mirrors your writings and offers you vast avenues to improve.
  • 110. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 110 Such feedback helps you feel the pulse of your audience and ensures your writings are acceptable to the majority of them. A good storyteller, as a good communicator, has to be open to criticism and keep in mind opinions can not only vary but that people may feel very strongly about certain issues. One cardinal principal to follow to improve one's work is to adhere to the principle 'There is no such thing as a dumb question' which means that a good storyteller and a good communicator has to be prepared to face very basic and awkward questions and keep his mind when his story is criticised. His response should always be temperate and must never be designed in a way to make the questioner or dissenter feel uncomfortable or foolish. A good example of successful storytelling at a high level is that of Carl Sagan who presented the series on astronomy Cosmos and wrote the book of the same name. Sagan's extraordinary success in narrating the story of the universe and how humans came to be the way they are was based upon his respect for the audience's intelligence, his unwillingness to talk down to people and give a fair voice to all sides of an issue during a debate. These qualities are of utmost importance for a good storyteller when assessing honest feedback.
  • 111. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 111 Measure the response Asking yourself a few questions like “Has my writing reached the intended audience?” “How has it impacted them?” Because, measuring the response of your readers to know how they view your stories is very important. This is something that has been made easier by the advent of the internet. Apart from the comments’ section and feedback forms in each of your online story, the number of likes and comments on facebook, the positive and negative ‘tweets’ as well as the email responses you receive, you might want to speak to your website admin to get details on the unique ‘hits’ or ‘clicks’. Market surveys are another way to know what your supporters like to hear more and what less. See what others are doing right It is a good idea to look beyond your organisation to check what is working right for others. One way of doing so is to subscribe to the e-newsletters of the host of NGOs and organisations out there. I learn a good deal from the English e- bulletins and campaign emailers of NGOs like WWF and Greenpeace apart from CSR initiatives in corporate sector like Wockhardt Foundation. Learning from others can not only
  • 112. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 112 saves your time reinventing the proverbial wheel but also helps you set the bar higher, as it helps bring out the best in you by identifying the set benchmarks. There are a host of other NGOs with international presence like Action Aid, CRY, Save the Children etc, who might have inspiring stories for you. Try accessing traditional print magazines that carry fascinating stories like National Geographic Society and BBC Wildlife and Geo. Write simple and to the point A few years ago, on a birding outing with a English speaking Canadian native, I asked him what the best way to communicate in English was. ‘Convey more with fewer words’ was his advice. I have not been disappointed following him. Having my information succinct - brief and clear has worked remarkably well for me. Konrad Lorenz the famed ethologist also was a great storyteller and his classic ethology book King Solomon’s Ring is a masterpiece that is accessible to laymen which lays out the basics of ethology without too much jargon and technicalities.
  • 113. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 113 Use pictures to help readers visualise the story Embedding appealing pictures related to the story can help readers better relate to the plot and theme. The image, along with a caption/ cutline should supplement the story information. It is a good idea to have pictures related to a particular paragraph placed a little above it, as it creates interest on the upcoming narration. Take help of diagrams and simple graphs Simple graphs or diagrams can help your readers visualise numbers and statistics. Choose the visual representation according to your audience. For example, if your audience is lay, a simple bar graph with corresponding time interval should be fine to show the increase in the incidences of a respiratory illness in a remote community over a period of time. Expand the horizons of your online stories A box with url links to the topics mentioned in your online stories helps your readers learn more about the subject you have narrated to them about. You may not want to include external links unless they speak of your work or are related to the subject directly. Writing for external channels
  • 114. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 114 Each popular magazine, journal or news paper has its own unique style and clearly list the requirements potential writers need to meet. As an example, here is what BBC wildlife expects from potential contributors http://www.discoverwildlife.com/how-contribute-stories-bbc- wildlife Balance between emotions and rationality Although you may want to ensure the audiences identify with you in your story, at the same time avoid excessive attachment to the stories’ characters or the plots. Be brief and to the point, as explained earlier. The above list is not exhaustive and you may want to create and document your own rules to improve upon your stories each time. When ever you have time stop and look back as you progress in your writings and see what has worked well. Try visiting your earlier stories at set intervals; say once in 3 months and compare where you stand both against yourself as well in the outside world. See where the bar is and try setting it higher using the pace at which you have risen since you started as a yardstick. No one can inspire you like yourself. ‘Practise makes a man perfect’
  • 115. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 115 As Francis Bacon said, "Reading maketh a full man, conversation a full man and writing an exact man." Reading the works of master storytellers in different forms of the art - in novels, non fiction, poetry, films, essays, commentaries and documentaries will expose you to the best methods of writing as well as the thought processes of those who have succeeded at storytelling. Some of the nature writers who can be read diligently for guidance are Gerald Durrell, Carl Sagan, David Attenborough, Isaac Asimov and Richard Dawkins. In the Indian context, the works of J V Narlikar, Salim Ali, M Krishnan, Billy Arjan Singh and Ruskin Bond make inspired reading". Chapter exercise 1. Request your colleague to suggest improvements on your latest story. List the same. 2. Prepare a list of related links that can go with your latest online story. 3. Choose a topic of your interest and prepare a list of five all time ‘top’ writers in that topic.
  • 116. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 116 FURTHER RESOURCES Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. “Writing Resources” The Writing Center, Harvard University. Handouts, The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Purdue Online Writing Lab, Purdue University. ‘Wild Animals I have Known’ Ernest Thomson Seton. Conversations with Carl Sagan, Tom Head, University Press of Mississippi, 2006.
  • 117. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 117 Ameen Ahmed is a writer and a Communication and Outreach Consultant who has written for mainstream English dailies and major travel publications. He has over 100 published stories and popular articles in international print and online publications to his credit. He has authored proposals and reports for bio-diversity surveys and content on conservation for organisations like Birdlife International, SACON and IISc apart from Government agencies. In his immediate past role as a Senior Communication Manager with WWF-India, he helped communicate internally as well as to the outside world, the latest happenings on that NGO’s conservation stage. He is helping Wildlife Aware Nature Club (WANC), a grassroots organisation working for environment and wildlife conservation in a semi-urban part of Karnataka, India, communicate since 1989. Among the NGOs he has worked full time are Greenpeace. He is currently working in the corporate sector and in his spare time manages content for several popular conservation and travel blogs including ‘Call Of The Hill Myna’. He can be reached at tumkurameen@gmail.com The Author
  • 118. How To Say Your Story, 2013 Ameen Ahmed 118 A manual for South Asia’s NGOs, CSR teams & Government agencies on communicating through written stories -------------------------------------------- This book, probably the first of its kind in South Asia region, aims to help the region’s development sector create and use stories. Anyone interested in educating their stakeholders about their work can use it to tell their story. The author has over two decades’ experience working with NGOs and Government agencies in communicating the various challenges facing India facing today, ranging from environmental degradation to women’s rights. The following, in particular, may find this very useful: 1. Heads of CSR, Corporate Foundations, Cause Marketing. 2. Policy makers and Government officers. 3. Scientists, particularly ecologists and wildlife biologists. 4. Senior and mid-level Communication Managers. 5. Executives and officers working for Communication, Public Relation, Investor relation, Liaison, CSR and Outreach teams. 6. Journalism and Communication students. 7. Teachers.

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