• Judy Cohen

Vulnerability in Storytelling

Before I started writing my debut memoir, the one word that kept circling my brain was vulnerability. Being vulnerable is scary! It takes a lot of guts to willingly fess up to a time in your life when you felt shame, embarrassment, or grief.


It’s natural. We’re human, and we don’t want to relive difficult situations.


But here’s the thing: to appear genuine to your readers, you must talk about your experiences. Readers need to know you, warts and all, because understanding who you are allows them to connect to you much more profoundly.


However, there is a fine line between what’s appropriate to share to add vulnerability to your story. Only you know where the line is for you, but here are a few tips on how I found my comfort zone.


Keep it relevant


I’m not saying that you must make your life an open book! Don’t tell people how you wet the bed until you were ten if it isn’t relevant to the overall goal of your book.


It’s natural to protect yourself, but vulnerable stories are the key to helping your readers get to know you and want to read on.


If you want to connect with people, they need to know that you’re human. They may even relate to your struggles.


Balance the light and the dark


Good storytelling strikes a balance between happy moments and moments of despair.


You don’t want to lean either way too much in your story. Too much darkness will bum people out; too much light downplays the significance of your vulnerability.


Find a balance so you can build connections with your readers through meaningful vulnerability.


Be specific


Maybe you struggled with confidence in your twenties. That’s fine to include in your story as a point of vulnerability, but it doesn’t pack enough punch.


Instead, choose 2-3 moments you can recall vividly. Specific examples of vulnerability give credence to your story and pull readers into the narrative.


Vulnerability isn’t easy, but it’s critical to good storytelling. Use your exposure to write a narrative that brings people into your world. Give others a stake in your story with vulnerable moments, resonating with your readers.


And be sure to sign up to learn when my debut memoir will be ready to pre-order. I can’t wait to share it with you!


Your story… to be continued


Judy xo




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