Creating Compelling Copy: The Power of a Story

This document is for people who are intending to write a story to enhance a piece of copy. This is not a document about how to write a novel. There are plenty of other documents, books, eBooks, and websites that can help you with that. 

The aim of this document is simply to help you structure a short story to be used within a piece of copy. 

Copy is a piece of writing intending to persuade someone to do something. 

Therefore, the story you tell should help the copy to achieve this goal of persuasion.

The purpose

Why are you writing this piece of copy?

If you are planning on writing a piece of copy, then I can assume that you already have a client or an idea of who you would like your client to be. Therefore, you already know what product or service you are attempting to persuade the audience to use. 

This is the underlying purpose of the copy and therefore your story. 

Why are you using a story?

The story needs to add impact to your copy. Don’t use a story for story’s sake or because someone said that ‘good copy has a story.’

The fact is, if your story is not relevant, doesn’t connect with the audience or have an impact on their decision making, then it is a bad story, making the rest of your copy bad copy. 

Use stories wisely. 

Let’s use an example. 

 Let’s say that your client is a weight loss company who specialise in organising groups and weight loss meetings. This is where similar people meet and share their weight loss experiences. 

The client wants you to write some copy which will get more people to come to the ‘weight loss meetings.’

As we go through the document, we will refer to this example. 


The audience

So, you know why you are writing the copy. You know who your client is and after doing A LOT of research, you know who your audience is. 

Now you need to write a story which:

  • Engages the audience.
  • Creates an emotional connection with the audience.
  • Keeps the interest of the audience.
  • Persuades the audience to do what you want them to do.

Notice that in each bullet point the focus was on the audience

You must make sure that you are writing to your audience, in a voice that will resonate with them. Your story also needs to be relevant to them. Therefore, your research should be so detailed that you feel like you know them inside and out. 

Nicholas Thorpe, a copywriting coach, once said that copywriting is only 20% writing and 80% research. You shouldn’t even think about putting words onto the page or structuring your story until you know who will be reading those words. 

Your story should have the audience nodding along with you and thinking ‘that could be me’. 

Going back to our weight loss example:
After doing some research you have found:

  • that the majority of people who attend these weight loss meetings are women between the age of 25 and 40. 
  • They are predominantly single, and some are parents. 
  • Many of the women attend the meetings because they like the accountability of the public weigh in, but they are also motivated by the encouragement of the group. 
  • However, there are many women who do not attend groups. They have tried every diet under the sun and are not being successful with their weight loss. 
  • These women are afraid of attending because they don’t like the idea of being publicly humiliated if they haven’t lost weight. They are also afraid of being the heaviest in the room. 
  • Some do not attend because they cannot commit to the weekly schedule whilst others can’t afford the price to join. 
  • They all want to change the way they look and feel more confident about themselves. 
  • They all want more energy and a raised self-esteem. 

With this information we can ascertain that the audience would be:

  • Women aged 25-40. 
  • Single status
  • Parent
  • Lack self-esteem and confidence.
  • Unable to afford weekly sessions means they may work in jobs with the minimum wage. 
  • Unable to commit to weekly sessions suggests shift work with an unpredictable shift pattern. 


The Story Structure

Everyone knows that every story must have a beginning, middle and end. But there is a lot more to writing a great story than this. 

In the beginning of the story, you should introduce the character and the setting, but more importantly you must use a hook to grab the readers’ attention. 

A good way to do this would be to present a catalyst for the weight gain (not overeating or lack of exercise…this is the symptom…the catalyst will be an emotional or mental event leading to overeating or lack of exercise).

There are 3 possible characters to use:

  1. You. 

Write in the first person and tell a story which relates to you and your journey. The journey must be appropriate with regards to the point of the story you are telling. 

Note: The readers don’t really care about you, but they do care about themselves. So, the story MUST make an emotional connection with the audience at their own level.

    2. A real-life person who’s journey and testimonial will help persuade the readers. 

This is a good one because somewhere within the copy you will need to offer proof as to the effectiveness of the product or service. It’s good if you can include this proof within a testimonial within your story. 

   3.A fictional character. 

You will really need to use your imagination. You must make the audience care about this person and connect with them on an emotional level. You want the readers to think of this character as themselves, so they understand the plight of the character. 

The nice thing about using a fictional character is that you can go to town with the descriptive language. 

Let’s try some ideas using our example of weight loss. 


Although I am now 40, I am reminded of my time living on a small Island in the middle of the Irish Sea where I had a troubled childhood. The island was small, and it felt like everybody knew everyone. There was nowhere to run away from the high school bullies and nowhere to hide. 


(Notice the age – within the same age bracket as your audience.

Notice the setting – a small island in the Irish Sea

Notice the catalyst to weight gain – troubled childhood with bullying)

Real-life person:

From a very early age Jessica (now 38) used food as a comfort blanket.  She grew up on the Isle of Man, a small Island in the middle of the Irish Sea. She was bullied terribly at school.

“I felt like I had nowhere to run and nowhere ton hide. The bullies were everywhere I went.”


(Notice the age – within the same age bracket as your audience.

Notice the setting – the Isle of Man

Notice the catalyst to weight gain – troubled childhood with bullying.

Notice the proof – written in speech directly from the person).


Fictional Character:

28-year-old Laura, originally from the Isle of Man, sat and watched her family as they tucked into their Sunday lunch. This was a rare occasion as the family had now spread across the world. As they sat all together, like they had when she was a child, Laura was reminded of her difficult childhood. 

(Notice the age – within the same age bracket as your audience. 

Notice the setting – the Isle of Man

Notice the catalyst to weight gain – troubled childhood).


Main body of the story:

This is the biggest part of the story. Within this section you will need to introduce events and obstacles for the character. Throughout the main body of the story, you need to continue to hold the readers’ attention. 

The plot points need to be interesting, exciting and build towards a conflict – the point at which the character can no longer continue as they are. 

You should aim for maybe 3 or 4 plot points. Each of these should match the target audience based on your research. 

In our example we have already introduced the idea of bullying in childhood which could lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. 

Going back to our research:

  • However, there are many women who do not attend groups. They have tried every diet under the sun and are not being successful with their weight loss. 
  • These women are afraid of attending because they don’t like the idea of being publicly humiliated if they haven’t lost weight. They are also afraid of being the heaviest in the room. 
  • Some do not attend because they cannot commit to the weekly schedule whilst others can’t afford the price to join. 
  • They all want to change the way they look and feel more confident about themselves. 
  • They all want more energy and a raised self-esteem. 

The highlighted sections are possible events/obstacles that could be included within the story for the character. 

Let’s try it out with our weight loss example:


By the time I was 24 I weighed more than 16 stone. I was wearing a size 18 and felt very self-conscious. I couldn’t run after my daughter in the park, and getting up and down stairs really made me lose my breath.

I started feeling so low and depressed about the way I looked. But I continued to find comfort in food. 

By the age of 28 I was 20 stone and a size 22. I had tried every diet I heard of, but nothing worked. Sometimes I would lose a little bit of weight and start to feel some flicker of hope. But the weight never stayed off for long.


The highlighted section is where I have included elements from the research. You can see how this would resonate with the audience. 


Real-life person:

Jessica told us of all the diets she had tried and how each one made her fall deeper into despair when they didn’t work. 

“I just felt like I had no energy at all. I couldn’t run after my daughter in the park and I could barely breathe just going up and down the stairs.”

At size 22 and weighing 20 stone, Jessica felt like this was her all time low. She lacked confidence and had very little self-esteem. 


Fictional character:

As Laura got older, her dress size grew with every year. She felt despondent and lonely. She tried several diets, none of which worked for her. Even when she did manage to lose a little bit of weight, she would put it back on and then some. Poor Laura looked in the mirror and hated what she saw in the reflection. 

Her daughter would want to play chase and tag at the park. Laura felt awful when she didn’t have the energy to be able to play and run.



The conflict is the moment where the character must make a choice. This choice will decide the fate of the character. 

For Harry Potter the conflict was whether to fight Voldemort or give in. 

For Bilbo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings, the conflict was whether to stand and fight his various foes or run away. 

For Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz it was fight the witch or remain trapped. 

The conflict needs to feel as if there is really no other choice. 

The resolution to the conflict is where your amazing client comes in with their life changing product or service which makes this problem all but go away. 

Back to our weight loss example:


I was at my all-time lowest point around the age of 38 when I just gave up. In my head I was never going to be thin. I was never going to get to grips with a good diet or a lifestyle. 

There was no cure for me. 

I just had to accept it. 

I became an introvert. I wouldn’t go out. I rarely saw my friends or family and I certainly wouldn’t have my photo taken. 

Until one day, my mum came to visit with a friend. Her name was Shirley. She was the same age as me but was a lot thinner. 

Shirley was bright, bubbly and exuded confidence. 

She was everything I wished I was. 

(Notice the conflict here highlighted in yellow. My character is struggling and failing on their own. All is lost. 

Now introduce the hero of the story – the resolution which changes everything – your client highlighted in green). 

Shirley told me about a meeting she attended on Tuesday nights. The meetings were close by and were attended by other people like me. She said that she was once 24 stone! I looked at her and couldn’t believe it, but she showed me a photograph of herself back then. 

Shirley said that in the meetings people gave each other moral support, ideas, recipes and there were free resources handed out every session. She told me that she understood how I was feeling and that she could sympathise with me, but I didn’t need to stay this way.

Joining was easy. Shirley gave me the website address and helped me fill in the online form. She told me it was okay if I couldn’t go every week, the support would be there as when I needed it. 

I worried about paying for all the sessions in one go as I couldn’t afford that. But on the website, it said I could pay session by session. Meaning if I missed a session, I wouldn’t be charged for it. 

(With each paragraph you should handle one of the objections we saw in the research – money, time, fear).


Real-Life Person:

It was when Jessica was at her all time low and felt that there was no way out of this never-ending cycle of weight gain that she found the solution. 

“I was contacted by Shirley the meeting coordinator. She helped me to fill in the online form and find the sessions closest to me. I was still sceptical at first, but she showed me a photo of herself at her heaviest – she had been even bigger than me!”

Through the support of Shirley, Jessica was able to attend the Tuesday night sessions on a weekly basis.

“At first, I thought it would be a problem if I couldn’t go each week, which had put me off in the past. But it turned out that it didn’t matter. The organisers knew that people had lives and sometimes things got in the way. The support was always there when I needed it and I could pay weekly too.”


Fictional Character:

Hidden away in her bedroom, Laura refused to come out. She would not spend time with her family or friends. Everyone was worried about her. 

One day Laura’s mum arrived at the door unannounced with a friend. The friend introduced herself as Shirley. 

Whilst Laura made her guests a cup of tea, Shirley explained who she was and what she did for a living. Laura sat at the kitchen table, holding her cup of tea between her hands like a warm comfort blanket as she let the true meaning of Shirley’s words wash over her. 

Maybe all was not lost?

Laura listened as Shirley told her about the weight loss meetings she held in the local community centre on Tuesday nights. These meetings were full of people just like Laura who needed a helping hand on their weight loss journey. 

In the meetings people listened to each other’s problem and gave each other encouragement and support. There were also free recipe ideas and resources given away each session. 

Laura felt like she was being offered a life raft and so she took it. Shirley helped her to fill in the online registration form and made sure that Laura understood the finer details. It would be ok if she couldn’t attend every week because Shirley knew that Laura’s daughter sometimes had gymnastics competitions. After Laura explained about her financial worries, Shirley was able to alleviate the concerns. Payment was weekly, so she only needed to pay for the weeks in which she actually attended. 

Laura felt like an angel had been sent to deliver her out of her dark weight fuelled prison and guide her back into the sunlight. 


At this point you want the readers to sympathise with your character and to want the lifeline that your character has been given. “I want that!” is the response you are looking for. 

This leads into the conclusion of the story.



Joining the weight loss meetings isn’t how this story ends. You need a satisfying ending where the character lives happily ever after and so will your audience when they sign up with your client. 

The conclusion needs to paint happy images in the mind of the audience. They need to be able to imagine themselves in the place of the character. 

The conclusion is full to the brim of all the benefits of using the product/service. 

Let us go once more to our weight loss example:


I couldn’t believe the change in me. After only a few short weeks, I found myself to be happier and more confident. I used the free recipes that were given to me and followed the simple exercise regime (which could be done in a few minutes each day on the comfort of my own home) and the weight started to fall off me.

My friends and family commented on the difference they could see. I dropped 2 dress sizes in 6 weeks!

I found that I had more energy and could run after my daughter in the park and getting up and down the stairs no longer took my breath away. 

And it’s all thanks to (CLIENT NAME).

I have highlighted the life changing benefits in yellow. Notice how these relate to the problems expressed in the main body events. 


Real life Person:

“Within a few short weeks of joining the meetings I found that the weight started to fall off me. I went down 2 dress sizes in 6 weeks!”

With the help of the support group Jessica felt more confident in the way she looked and began spending more time with her friends and family. 

“I’ve even found a new man. We’re taking it slowly at the moment, but he is kind and generous. He makes me feel like I’ve won the lottery. I owe it all to (CLIENT NAME)”


Fictional Character:

“Wow! Look at me now!” Laura exclaimed to her best friend. They were out shopping for new clothes because Laura had dropped 2 dress sizes in only 6 weeks. She felt like a million dollars as se twirled in the knee length purple strappy dress. 

“If it wasn’t for (CLIENT NAME) you would still be at home hiding in your trackie bottoms,” her friend replied. 

Laura couldn’t agree more.



Now that the story has come to an end and your audience is imagining this happy ending and thinking about how much they would love for it to be them in the story…you drop the call to action. 

Make it clear who the client is and what the audience member needs to do to feel just as good as the character in your story. 


I hope this document has been helpful. 

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