“Don’t use a ten cent word when a penny word will do.” – Ray Wert
About Ray Wert
Ray Wert tells stories for a living. He owns his own company Tiny Toy Car that helps automakers and anyone who wants to tell an automotive story to tell the stories that are going to engage the audiences that they want to target. Right now he is working for General Motors as a Professional Storyteller to help tell the story of how they are transforming the future of transportation.
In this interview Ray talks about always being honest when you tell stories to your readers, not telling stories you don’t believe in and how, as a writer, your job is not to hammer your point home. But rather, you’re job is to prove the point and pull the audience with you.
We also discuss the definition of a story, which to Ray is just a fact plus emotional appeal and, because of this, if you don’t find the story you’re telling interesting, your reader won’t either.
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Topics We Explored
- Having a clear understanding of what the vision is from the top of the company.
- Putting the customer at the center of everything you do. Looking at everything from the prospective of the customer and thinking where’s the value for them.
- Always being honest when you tell stories to your readers.
- Not telling stories you don’t believe in.
- Going from an editorial position to a corporate position.
- The difference between writing and storytelling.
- Writing without emotion, is just writing.
- How, as a writer, your job is not to hammer your point home. You’re job is to prove the point and pull the audience with you.
- Why the amount of words your writing isn’t as valuable as the story you’re telling.
- The key to a good story is to start with a kernel of truth. What is authentic and transparent about whatever it is you’re talking about (whether it be a person or a company.)
- If you can’t tell an authentic story that’s true, you can’t tell a good story.
- If you’re a company who want’s to tell an authentic story, your vision and the ideal of your vision has to be pushed through at every layer of the company.
- If you don’t find the story you’re telling interesting, your reader won’t either. If it’s not interesting to you, it’s not interesting. And if you’re not excited about what you’re writing, you won’t be able to get your readers excited about it either.
- The definition of a story is just a fact plus an emotional appeal. If you’re excited about something you’re going to write in an excited way and you’re going to tell an excited story.
- When you’re writing think “if I were listening to this as a journalist, what would be the headline of my story.” Then as your writing use it a checkpoint that you can come back to and ask, “is what I’m writing leading me to that headline.”
- ABS – Always Be Simplifying (your writing) Always be looking for way to cut back on what you’re saying.
- Whatever doesn’t help in telling your story, kill it. Don’t be afraid to kill your (written) children.
- Don’t look at it as you want to get the right volume (number of words) out. Look at it as you want to get the right words out.
- Know what story you want to tell and let the words flow.
Resources and Books Mentioned
- Andy Weir, The Martian (book)
- Dan Lyons, Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble (book)
- Fake Steve Jobs (Twitter account)