How to Write an Anecdote

You'll need to know how to write an anecdote if you've been asked to speak at an event. Anecdotes are often used in speeches not only to entertain with a simple story but also to reveal a greater truth.

Modern-Day Parables
An anecdote is a narrated story that is biographical in nature and must be about a real person. Often called "modern-day parables," anecdotes are short narratives that make the listeners both laugh and think. As long as the story illustrates the point that the narrator is trying to make, it can be considered an anecdote. Many people use anecdotes in speeches, church sermons and wedding toasts, so learning how to write an anecdote will certainly come in handy over the course of a lifetime.

It Must Be True
An anecdote must be a true story about someone. It might be you, and therefore the anecdote would be written in first person. If you witnessed the event, you would write the anecdote in third person. As with any good story or essay, an anecdote must relay the who, what, when, where, why and how of the "plot." While there's no need to go overboard in details, these essential elements frame the story.

It Must Be Short
An anecdote is simply a slice of life that illustrates a point, often with wit and humor. By connecting the point to a memorable story, narrators can ensure that listeners will be more likely to remember it. An anecdote should not contain any information that is not essential to the understanding of the story and, as the ultimate in short-story writing, every word counts. When writing an anecdote, reveal only the details that matter, and leave the rest behind.

Strong Tie-In
The anecdote must have a strong ending where the meaning of the story is clear. Don't rely on veiled references or hints at the outcome of the tale. The point should also tie into the rest of the story or speech if you are using it to lead into another thought. Many speechwriters or magazine articles use an anecdote to begin an exposition on a much longer and more detailed theme. No matter the purpose, an anecdote that doesn't deliver the point is not a successful one.

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