Congratulations Alice Munro: Great Words Tell Great Stories

Oct 10, 2013 Beth Monaghan

It’s Nobel Prize week, and surprisingly, it has come with some good PR lessons. Earlier this week I wrote about the importance of making your story accessible to a broader audience and used NPR’s coverage of the Nobel Prize in Medicine as an instructive example. In that case, the key was making scientific details accessible and understandable to an average listening audience.

Then the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Alice Munro, whose amazingly beautiful and insightful short stories always stay with me for years after reading them.

The award is a good reminder about one of the most critical parts of good storytelling – the words we choose. In celebration of Munro and other amazing writers, following are some of my favorite passages that make ordinary ideas and moments extraordinary:

  • “I sit there thinking about how much courage it takes to live an ordinary life.” - Let the Great World Spin: A Novel by Colum McCann
  •  “Words are capable of making experience more vivid, and also of organizing it. They can scare us, and they can comfort us. What makes writing so thrilling is what makes childhood so difficult.” – Speechless by Jonathan Safran Foer in the New Yorker’s 9/11 10-year anniversary issue
  • “There’s just this for consolation: an hour here or there when our lives seem, against all odds and expectations, to burst open and give us everything we’ve ever imagined, though everyone but children (and perhaps even they) knows these hours will inevitably be followed by others, far darker and more difficult. Still, we cherish the city, the morning; we hope, more than anything, for more.” – The Hours by Michael Cunningham
  • “Describing this passage, this change in her life later on, Grace might say—she did say—that it was as if a gate had clanged shut behind her. But at the time there was no clang—acquiescence simply rippled through her, the rights of those left behind were smoothly canceled.” – Runaway by Alice Munro
  • “Impossible to isolate a memory: to carve it out and separate it from what has come before or after, from what has been told and retold. Stories turn what we remember into a series of polished little gems.” – Black and White by Dani Shapiro

Long live great stories and the wonderful writers who turn them into the “polished little gems” that become part of our lives.


Topics: Public Relations, Writing, PR, Storytelling
Beth Monaghan

Since the early days working around her kitchen table, Beth has grown Inkhouse into one of the top independent PR agencies in the country. She’s been named a Top Woman in PR by PR News, a Top 25 Innovator by PRovoke, and an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist. Beth designed Inkhouse’s signature Storytelling Workshop to mirror the literary hero’s journey and to unearth the emotional connections that bind an audience to a brand or idea. She also uses narratives to build Inkhouse’s culture, most recently through two books of employee essays, “Hindsight 2020” and “Aren’t We Lucky?”

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