What makes a story interesting? For years I’ve been saying that if what you’re narrating matters to you, it will matter to your listeners.
But how do you make it matter? Logically, you might say (and I’ve heard many say it) that you need to “be interesting.”
Well… OK… but have you ever tried to “be interesting”? I have. Any number of painful dating experiences comes to mind. By trying to be interesting I was putting the attention on myself, not on the other person.
But what if we changed the adjective a little: instead of trying to be “interesting,” how about being “interested”? Whether you’re narrating an account of the murder of Robert Blake’s wife (did that) or the ascent of Mt. Ararat (did that) or an hour-by-hour description of the taking of the Scheldt River Estuary in WWII (yeah, did that, too), you’ll keep your listener’s attention in proportion to how interested you are in what you’re narrating.
In practice it works sort of like this. Before you narrate a single chapter, adopt the attitude that you hope your listener will have: be curious. Say, “I wonder what this is all about.” Read each page with a sense of discovery – that you’re going to find out something new. Hopefully this will generate an undertone to your narration that has an unspoken “Huh!” at the end of each sentence.
The result is that, instead of trying to sound interesting, you’re sharing a mutually interesting experience. Who wouldn’t be interested in that?