What makes a good story? 10 elements. How to make a really good story

What new cultural elements do you need to work with? How do they influence your character’s desires? What will stand in the way of your hero in this new environment?

7 Simple Ways to Make a Good Story Great

In order to stand out among the keepers who hold the keys to your publication, it’s not enough for your story to be good. Use these techniques to take your fiction to a new level and make a good story great.

Whenever I think of the word “guard”, a short video of The Wizard of Oz pops up in my head, in which a terrifying palace guard refuses Dorothy and her friends access to the Wizard. “The wizard says,” Go away!’”

If the aspiring authors are Dorota, the agents and editors are this guy. They seem bigger than you. They give strict lectures.

Just remember what’s going on? Dorothy’s sobbing story melts the guardian’s heart in the bearskin and mustachioed man, and he finally lets them in.

This is how a big secret is revealed: you don’t have to do anything but tell a fabulous story so that they love you.

There are subtle differences between fiction that is passable and fiction that pops up – fiction that shows you know what you are doing. Treat agents and editors as your über-readers. If you get them, the larger audience won’t be far behind.

Picture placeholder title

Here are seven ways successful authors make their stories burst with authority and convince the guards of their side. These techniques will work on any kind of fiction: literary, romance, mystery, sci-fi, whatever you want. Moreover, you can implement them no matter what stage of the writing process you are at, from the first draft to the final refinement.

Go beyond the five senses.

Most writers know enough to introduce impressions beyond sight and sound. It’s always great to read about a character who draws attention to the hot smell of metal and oil that hovers over the rails after a high-speed train passes, or to the weight of the new tweed coat on his shoulders.

Agents and editors love the five senses, but they want and expect more. They want a physical business that will deepen not only your surroundings but also your characteristics.

Here’s the key: the best authors use body language in their narratives. The weird thing is, I’ve never heard an agent or editor comment on my (or any author’s) use of body language, and I think it’s because it passes so smoothly it’s almost imperceptible. However, this absolutely adds texture and depth to your work. When it is missing, the fiction seems flat.

Start by reading your body language. You will find that two things lie at the root of it all: anxiety (or the lack of it) and hidden desires. Live in your characters and feel how they feel in a given situation.

Brian paused and lit a cigarette. He puffed smoke out the window.

That says nothing about the character or their state of mind. If Brian needs a cigarette, make the most of this moment:

Brian paused and lit a cigarette. He held it close to his body as if he didn’t want to take up too much space. He blew a trail of smoke out the window, avoiding Anne-Marie’s gaze.

We learn something about what’s going on with Brian here without having to wade through an inner monologue from him or Anne-Marie.

Learn through education Some online colleges and universities offer creative writing courses. Look for ones that offer creative writing courses that cover the plot and structure of the stories.

10 ways to make a good story succeed:

  1. Give your story a strong, dramatic content
  2. Change the rhythm and structure in your prose
  3. Create believable, memorable characters
  4. Make important sections of your story effective
  5. Deepen your story with side-stories
  6. Make every line of dialogue count
  7. Add what makes a good story (immersive environment)
  8. Create conflict and tension
  9. Crafts beginnings captivating
  10. Provide knockout endings

“Man has bacon and eggs for breakfast” is not a story idea that will make readers look for copies of your book. It is also highly unlikely that this would survive the entire novel.

“A man has bacon and eggs for breakfast, but the bacon is made of human flesh” is a scenario with much more dramatic potential (it could be a scene from one of Thomas Harris’s popular novels about the serial killer Hannibal Lector). After you find the resulting activities and the final result that will unfold from the main story scenario, you have an idea for the story.

What are the key elements of a good, dramatic story?

A dramatic storytelling is a matter of incorporating key elements of a good story, such as:

The above idea for the second story contains most of these elements. This is surprising because cannibalism is a taboo that most people find disturbing. The protagonist’s behavior is unusual because cannibalism is not an everyday common behavior. The topic is controversial. There is an underlying tension due to the possibility that the character is a murderer given his actions. Riddle – who is this character and why is he involved in this activity?

“Dramatic content” is not necessarily shocking or controversial. It can be something as innocuous as the reader’s ignorance, or romantic leads will end up in your arms. Brainstorm characters, plot points, or settings that give you some of the above with our step-by-step guidance. Making a good story starts with finding and developing multi-faceted ideas.

Vary rhythm and structure in your prose

Writing instructors often advise creative writing classes to write shorter, stronger sentences. Short sentences are great for speeding up the moment and helping to get the mood for a tense scene. However, be careful with monotonous typing. Change the length of the sentence. Occasionally tap the rhythm of sentence syllables or read your prose aloud. This will help you hear his rhythm, hear his music.

Use the rhythmic structure of poetry for inspiration. For example, Japanese haiku is a short three-line poem where the first line has 5 syllables, the second has 7, and the third again. Try to write a few sentences in prose with this syllabic structure, e.g.

– He’s been waiting all day. It was cold and getting dark. Would someone come?’

knowing your writing rhythm will help you write better sentences. The book contains many sentences, so make it easier and more fun to read. Consciously made, creative prose makes a book better in any genre.

There are subtle differences between fiction that is passable and fiction that pops up – fiction that shows you know what you are doing. Treat agents and editors as your über-readers. If you get them, the larger audience won’t be far behind.

Creating a Story Framework

Stories aren’t just sequences of events – they have to go somewhere. Every good story starts with a character who wants something. The story describes the hero’s journey towards getting what he wants or not. (Stories don’t have to have happy endings, only satisfying ones.)

As you answer these questions, make sure your character is fighting for something they desperately want.

  • Who is my main character? What is he like in his ordinary life?
  • What does he want? Is there any unusual event that is calling for him to act?
  • What is he willing to do to get what he wants?
  • How do character flaws prevent him from achieving his goal?
  • What obstacles, internal or external, stand in his way?
  • Does he finally overcome obstacles or is he unable to succeed?
  • How does the character change as a result of combat?

The Fundamentals of Plot

You may have learned the basics of story structure in your introductory composition class, but here’s a reminder. History must have a beginning, a middle, and an end. The character follows a path known as the storyline. It begins with an event that sets the wheels in motion. Then there is an increase in the action, meaning that each step in the story’s development raises the stakes slightly, adding to the conflict and tension. That’s when history reaches a turning point. For better or worse, from then on, your character will be changed as a result of his journey through the events. The final element is an ending or solution that satisfactorily closes the story and perpetuates both its result and theme.

Here’s a clue: the term solution refers to the resolution of a story that occurs after a climax event. It comes from the French word dénouer in the mid-18th century, which translates as “disbanded.”

Pixar’s storyboard artist Emma Coats has put together some excellent storytelling tips in a series of tweets. She advises you to delve into your character story building process with this simple template:

Once upon a time there was ___. Everyday, ___. One day ___. For this reason, ___. For this reason, ___. At the end ___.

You may repeat “For this reason ____” as long as necessary to come to “Finally ____”. However, remember that the plot should have an ascending action. If that helps, think, “Because of that ____, which has complicated things.”

There is true originality in these fine details. Enjoy the details. Let them lead you to new worlds and stories. Most of all, have fun.

How to Structure Your Short Story

Whether you’re an Outliner or Pantser, like me (typing in pants), I recommend the basic story structure.

It looks like this, according to Dean Koontz’s bestseller:

  1. Plunge your main character in terrible trouble as soon as possible. (This problem could mean different depending on the genre. In a thriller, it can be life threatening. In a romance, it can mean a choice between two suitors.)
  2. Everything your character does to get out of trouble only makes things worse.
  3. After all, everything seems hopeless.
  4. Finally, everything your character has learned from all these troubles gives him what he needs to win the day – or lose.

This structure will keep you and the reader engaged.

How to Write a Short Story in 9 Steps

Writing a short story

How to Write a Short Story Step 1. Read as Many Great Short Stories as You Can Find

Read hundreds of them – especially the classics.

You learn this genre by familiarizing yourself with the best. See yourself as an apprentice. Observe, evaluate, analyze the experts and then try to imitate their work.

Soon you will learn enough how to write a short story that you can begin to develop your own style.

Many of the skills you need can be learned through osmosis.

Where to start? Read Bret Lott, a modern day master. (He chose one of my stories for one of his collections.)

Reading two or three dozen short stories should give you an idea of ​​their structure and style. This should encourage you to try one of them while continuing to read dozens of others.

Remember that you probably won’t start with something sensational, but what you learn while reading – as well as what you learn from your own writing – should give you confidence. You’ll be on your way.

How to Write a Short Story Step 2. Aim for the Heart

The most effective stories evoke deep emotions in the reader.

What will move them? The same things that probably move you:

  • Love
  • Redemption
  • Justice
  • Freedom
  • Heroic victim
  • What else?

How to Write a Short Story Step 3. Narrow Your Scope

Needless to say, there is a drastic difference between a novel of 450 pages and 100,000 words and a story of 10 pages and 2,000 words.

You can accommodate an epic storyline and cover decades with an extensive cast of characters.

The other person has to vent their emotions and tell a compelling story with a beginning, middle and end – with about 2% of the word count.

Of course, this drastically limits the number of characters, scenes, and even story points.

The best stories usually only cover a short slice of the main character’s life – often just one scene or event that must also carry the weight of your Deeper question, topic, or what you really want to say.

Tightening Tips

  • If your main character needs a cohort or a soundboard, don’t give her two. Connect the characters where you can.
  • Avoid long description blocks; rather, only write enough to evoke the theater in the reader’s mind.
  • Eliminate scenes that just take your characters from one place to another. The reader doesn’t care how they got there, so you can just write: Late afternoon Jim met Sharon at a coffee shop…

Your goal is to reach the sonorous ending by portraying a poignant incident that tells the story itself and presents the bigger picture.

How to Write a Short Story Step 4. Make Your Title Sing

Work hard on what to name your short story.

Yes, editors can change that, but they need to get their attention first. They want him to stand out from the readers among the many competing stories just like you.

How to Write a Short Story Step 5. Use the Classic Story Structure

When your title attracts the reader, how do you maintain their interest?

Make sure you cut out all the names and actual places until you have a general rundown. Include a phrase for your settings (eg “In a fantasy world”, “In the Wild West”, “In Victorian England” etc).

Set Up the Plot

The plot is what happens, plot, action. Jerome Stern says you arranged the situation that way, where are the turning points in the story and what the characters do at the end of the story.

The plot is a sequence of events deliberately arranged to reveal their dramatic, thematic and emotional meaning. – Janet Burroway

Understanding these story elements in order to develop the activities and their end results will help you plot your next short story.

  • An explosion or a “hook”. An exciting, engaging, moving event or issue that grabs the reader’s attention immediately.
  • Conflict. The figure and the inner self or the outer something or someone.
  • Exposure. Basic information required to view characters in context.
  • Complication. One or more problems that are holding the character back from the intended goal.
  • Transformation. Image, symbol, dialogue that connects paragraphs and scenes.
  • Flashback. Remembering something that happened before the story was created.
  • Climax.When the rising action of the story reaches its peak.
  • Fall of the action. Releasing the story’s action after its climax.
  • Solution: After an internal or external conflict is resolved.

Brainstorm. If you have trouble deciding on a conspiracy, try brainstorming. Suppose you have a hero whose husband comes home one day and says he doesn’t love her anymore and leaves. What actions could result from this situation?

  1. She becomes a workaholic.
  2. Their children are unhappy.
  3. Their kids want to live with their dad.
  4. Moves to another city.
  5. He gets a new job.
  6. They’re selling the house.
  7. He meets a psychiatrist and falls in love.
  8. He comes back and she accepts him.
  9. He comes back and she doesn’t accept him.
  10. Commits suicide.
  11. Commits suicide.
  12. She moves in with her parents.

The next step is to select one action from the list and brainstorm another list from that specific action.

Create Conflict and Tension

Conflict is a fundamental element of fiction, a fundamental one, because only troubles are interesting in literature. It takes effort to turn the great themes of life into a story: birth, love, sex, work and death. – Janet Burroway

The conflict creates the tension that makes the story begin. Tension arises from the opposition between the character or characters and internal or external forces or conditions. By balancing the opposing forces of the conflict, you keep your readers glued to the pages wondering how this story will end.

Possible Conflicts Include:

  • A hero against another person
  • Hero against nature (or technology)
  • A hero against society
  • Hero against God
  • A hero against himself.

Yourke’s Conflict Checklist

  • Mystery. Explain enough to annoy readers. Never give up everything.
  • Reinforcement. Give both sides options.
  • Progress. Continue increasing the number and type of obstacles the protagonist encounters.
  • Causality. Keep fictional characters more responsible than real people. Characters who make mistakes often pay, or at least in fiction, laudable people often collect rewards.
  • Surprise. Provide enough complexity to prevent readers from predicting events well in advance.
  • Empathy. Encourage the reader to identify with characters and scenarios that resonate pleasantly or (unpleasantly) with their own sweet dreams (or night sweats).
  • View. Reveal something about human nature.
  • Versatility. Present a fight that most readers think makes sense, even if the details of that fight reflect a unique place and time.
  • High stakes. Convince readers that the result matters because someone they care about may lose something valuable. Trivial clashes often lead to trivial fiction.

Agents and editors have a sixth sense when it comes to kitchen novels. You know what I’m talking about: novels that feature fictionalized versions of every cool, unusual or amazing thing that has ever happened to an author.

4. Use plot mutation for your own story

Choose a novel, reduce it, change the key factor, and continue.

Master these four stages of plot mutation and you’ll be well on your way to an endless source of original plot ideas. And that puts you on the right track as you write a story.

This is an updated version of a story that was previously published. We update our posts as often as possible to be useful to our readers.

Stories aren’t just sequences of events – they have to go somewhere. Every good story starts with a character who wants something. The story describes the hero’s journey towards getting what he wants or not. (Stories don’t have to have happy endings, only satisfying ones.)

Have a distinctive voice

One of the most important elements in the beginning of a story is the voice with which it is told. Your opening is the first and most important opportunity for the reader to get to know your narrative or voice style. So give them a taste of it. Think about the origins of the stories you love and how each could only have been written by that particular writer, be it Stephen King, Charles Dickens, Zadie Smith or Virginia Woolf. Be like them, write those important first lines in a voice that is unique to you. But don’t try to copy them – find your own writing voice and present it to the best effect early in your story.

If your story has a first-person narrator, you’ll need to establish his voice early on, so make sure your first words impress and evoke a sense of the person who is saying them.

Make it dynamic

Drop your readers straight onto the stage; give the impression that they have caught something really interesting as it unfolds. Instead of building to the climax, put the reader right in the middle of the event. Think cinematic. The first scene of the Handheld Tale on TV showed a family being chased through the woods. At this point, viewers didn’t know who the family was or the meaning of the chase, but it was a thrilling start to the series. You can recreate a narrative style for a dramatic effect in your writing by immersing the reader in the middle of the scene. No configuration, only action and influence. You’ll have to figure it out later, but it’s a striking way to start a story if you have an opening scene that justifies such an impact (i.e it can be a great way to start a thriller, with a brawl or a chase).

Just like you can get stuck in your songs when you hear someone say something – in real life, in art, in a movie – you can grab the reader’s attention right from the start with a great line of dialogue. Just make sure it’s either really great or at least having a dramatic impact. And remember to add context as soon as possible after the dialogue to start filling the picture to give the reader a sense of the context in which the words are spoken. That doesn’t mean starting with “I want a divorce” and adding a mundane line like “Emma said, filling the kettle while her husband Ian was eating a toast.” You’d have to show how the sight of Ian chewing another batch of whole wheat flour fills Emma with existential despair.

The beginning of your story is so important that it’s worth experimenting with a few different introductions to see what works best. Maybe you know exactly where your story begins, or maybe you’re looking for the best way to do that. As with creative writing, there is no one-size-fits-all method and you need to apply the best one for your specific story. Test it in several ways. Prepare to revise when you’re done and fine-tune it until it’s perfect. We hope these plot initiation tips help you. Good luck!

Rate article