For Tim Pollock, Haslam Chair in Business and Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business, an early love of writing has led to decades of studying and practicing the craft. Now he's written his own book on the subject.
In “How to Use Storytelling in Your Academic Writing: Techniques for Engaging Readers and Successfully Navigating the Writing and Publishing Processes,” released in February 2021 by Edward Elgar Publishing, Pollock describes the structure, techniques and tools of storytelling and how to apply them to a wide range of scholarly writing. The book also addresses other aspects of academic publishing, such as co-authoring and managing the review process.
Pollock believes every piece of writing is a story, and that storytelling techniques enhance scholars’ abilities to share their ideas and increase the impact of their work. Drawing on storytelling tools employed in fiction and non-fiction writing, his book aims to help scholars enhance clarity, presentation and flow in everything from cover letters to research articles.
Throughout the book, Pollock emphasizes storytelling techniques that can help scholars bring visual imagery and a conversational tone to their written work, humanizing the subject matter and creating the proper pace to let the story unfold.
“These techniques have a huge influence on making articles more readable and understandable, and they help address so many of the pathologies I routinely see in academic articles,” he says. “The great studies that stick with me are well written and employ these techniques.”
Although his experience as an editor at the Academy of Management Journal planted the seed for the book, Pollock says coming to Haslam enabled him to make the project a reality.
“Having the opportunity to teach a doctoral seminar on writing here, which is where I developed most of the ideas, was crucial,” he says. “My students also became part of my friendly reviewer team, and provided me with invaluable feedback on early drafts of all my chapters.”
On his website, Pollock offers free writing exercises that build on the book’s content. He sees the book as being beneficial to scholars at any stage in their career.
“It can be used as the primary text for a writing class (I’ll be using it in my class),” he says, “but it’s really written for folks who don’t have access to that kind of training, but want to improve their writing. I also do my best to demystify parts of the academic publishing process that trip a lot of folks up.”
Ultimately, Pollock wants his readers and students to come away with the ability to make their writing accessible and interesting, and for them to take pleasure in knowing how to write well.
“The satisfaction of creating a well-turned sentence or paragraph gives you a real sense of accomplishment,” he says.
“How to Use Storytelling in Your Academic Writing: Techniques for Engaging Readers and Successfully Navigating the Writing and Publishing Processes” is available now in hardcover and ebook formats from Edward Elgar Publishing.
Stacy Estep, writer/publicist, email@example.com