Here’s the simplest description of a story: a story is a string of words that change the meaning of something.

“‘The cat sat on a mat’ is not a story. ‘The cat sat on the dog’s mat’ is a story.”—John le Carré

“The cat sat on a mat” has nothing significant about it. It doesn’t cause us to think. “The cat sat on the dog’s mat” gets us wondering who’s this sassy cat and where’s the dog, who’s the dog, how will he react. Now the mat takes on significance. It matters.

Austin describes this in a longer story —

Close your eyes and imagine you’re a wealthy collector who’s just entered a gallery in an art museum. On the wall facing you there are two gigantic canvases, each more than 10 feet tall. Both paintings depict a harbor at sunset. From across the room, they look identical: the same ships, the same reflections on the water, the same sun at the same stage of setting. You go in for a closer look. You can’t find a label or a museum tag anywhere.
You become obsessed with the paintings, which you nickname Painting A and Painting B. You spend an hour going back and forth from canvas to canvas, comparing brushstrokes. You can’t detect a single difference. Just as you go to fetch a museum guard or someone who can shed light on these mysterious twin masterpieces, the head curator of the museum walks in. You eagerly inquire as to the origins of your new obsessions.
The curator tells you that Painting A was painted in the 17th century by a Dutch master. “And what of Painting B?” you ask. “Ah yes, Painting B,” the curator says. “That’s a forgery. It was copied last week by a graduate student at the local art college.” Look up at the paintings.
Which canvas looks better now? Which one do you want to take home?

It’s all about the story of the object. That’s what we care about.

Every scrap of information that you created today provides a new opportunity to tell a story. With each blog or a tweet how can you change the significance of that scrap of work? What can you say to give this information more meaning, more value?

I did this in Flash Fiction #1. I almost just posted my first attempt at Flash Fiction, just posted the work. But instead, I gave this piece of work the story of my process. The central story I told is Why I am Posting it. If I wanted, I could have instead or also told a story about How I created, what I learned from posting it, what I think of it now, and on and on, each which change the significance of the work, each add layers of depth to the work.

You could do this with a photo, a quote, an idea, anything. Tell a story and suddenly your work matters.