5 Secrets to Great Storytelling
A great story is one that can captivate the reader and keep him or her turning the pages in anticipation to find out what happens next. When a person is reading a great story, he or she can get completely immersed in it and be completely distracted from other things in his or her life by it.
However, despite the fact that great stories can be extremely entertaining to the reader and profitable to the writer, they are not easy to write. In fact, it can take a significant amount of skill and know-how to write a story that is truly great. If you are trying to write a high quality story, here are some excellent tips for great storytelling.
1. Focus on a central conflict
The core element of nearly every great story is that there is at least one central conflict that is being dealt with by the characters in some way. The conflict forms the foundation of the story and it is what makes a story a story, and not just a list of events that take place. Without a central conflict, a story can be extremely boring. However, when there is a conflict, it piques the interest of the reader because the reader becomes very curious about how the conflict will be resolved.
To further win over the interest of the reader, you can steadily build the tension and the stress that this conflict creates in its journey to resolution. The resolution of the conflict should happen at the end of your story, and it is what brings everything to a close. This is where you deliver the payoff that the reader has been anticipating.
2. Show, don’t tell
The goal is for the reader to become captivated with the story. In order to do this, you need to use words that help to put the reader in the world of the story, not just merely say what is happening. For example, instead of saying, “Jack stepped out into the cold night,” you can say, “As Jack opened the door to walk outside, a gust of frigid air blew over him, and he shivered as he left the building.”
You need to really paint a picture and make it easy for the reader to envision the story, almost like he or she is watching a movie. You want them to forget that they are reading a book and instead feel like they are just watching a story unfold.
4. Try to get the audience emotionally attached to the protagonist
When the audience is emotionally attached to the protagonist, then he or she actually cares what happens in the story. He or she will actually want the protagonist to succeed and will be sad or upset when bad things happen to him or her. Creating this emotional attachment is of the highest importance for good storytelling. This is because it substantially heightens the reader’s interest in the story.
In order to get the reader emotionally attached to the protagonist, it is helpful to have the protagonist take on values that many people consider to be moral. For example, honesty, integrity, compassion, etc. People will be more likely to connect with a protagonist whom they feel is a good person. However, you should also make sure that your protagonist has some flaws which the reader can feel sympathy for. The protagonist should come across both as morally good, and as human. After all, who likes to root for the bad guy?
5. Plot twists
One of the main reasons why it is fun for readers to read books or short stories in many cases is because they don’t know what is going to happen next. So, if you make your plot too predictable, then it can take the suspense and anticipation away from your story. You do not want to do this.
To prevent your plot from being too predictable, you should throw in some twists and surprises along the way. Keep the reader guessing. You want the reader to gasp in surprise at some points, or to scratch their heads in wonder while they read certain sections of your story. If you can effectively do this, then you can dramatically increase the power of your story, and you can make it much, much more fun to read. Many of the great writers of our day including Dan Brown, George R.R. Martin, and J.K. Rowling all use plot twists extremely effectively. Oftentimes they happen at key moments in the story to heighten their impact. This is something that you should aim to do.
Becoming a master storyteller is something that takes a lot of practice for most people. Because of this, it can be helpful to start out with short stories before moving to full-length novels. Practicing your storytelling with short stories can help you get used to formulating exciting plots while getting your readers emotionally connected to your protagonist, and implementing many other elements of successful storytelling.
The more that you practice, and the more that you can get used to focusing on a central conflict, showing and not telling, cutting out the slow parts, creating emotionally connectable characters, and using plot twists, the better your stories will likely become.
Your first story may not come out perfect, but soon, you could be creating some fantastic work that people genuinely are excited to read. Storytelling can be a lot of fun, especially when you get better at it!
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