When I was 19 and in my first year at university, I decided to try my hand at creative writing – the sorts of stories that you’d possibly find in a book or online magazine. It sounded like fun, and a way to relax after the stress of exams and assignments. Plus, it was a way to get published while having some fun with a hobby.
I loved writing, and I enjoyed the feeling you get when a work of yours is published. But since then, I’ve discovered more about what really makes a story “good”, and I want to pass on some of what I’ve learned.
What Is Good Storytelling?
Good storytelling is about giving the reader a feeling of involvement and connection with the characters in your story – particularly through your use of language. It’s about being able to paint vivid images and bring characters to life through your writing. Essentially, it’s about telling a good story. And for that, you need to have something worth telling. Here are some tips on how to create a story worth reading:
Focus On Your Audience
The first and most vital step to creating a successful story is to focus on your audience. Who will be reading your story? What do they want out of it? What makes it different from all the other stories out there?
It’s easy to write a story with universal themes – about love, loss, loneliness, and unrequited love – but if you want to go beyond the surface, you need to find a way to connect with your reader. And the only way to do that is to show them something they haven’t seen before. Find a way to make it fresh and interesting.
Find The Heart Of The Matter
The heart of the matter is at the crux of your story. What is it that you want to get across? This is not just a matter of character development or setting up the plot. It’s about you finding the very heart of the matter – the theme or idea that drives the whole story. This is something that will emerge as you work on the story, but it may well be different from what you initially intended it to be. (It’s always better to follow the leads of your characters, rather than forcing them to fit a preconceived narrative.)
If you can get to the heart of the matter, you can start to work on the secondary elements of your story. How are you going to show it? What do you want the reader to experience? What is the point you are trying to make? Sometimes, the simplest stories can be the ones that work best. It’s not about complicated plotting or language – it’s often just a matter of showing, not telling. In the right hands, a good story can be as effective as a piece of visual art.
Embrace The Reader’s Engagement
The reader’s engagement is one of the most important things to consider when crafting a story. You want to make sure that they are completely invested in your work and what you are writing about. You want to give them an emotional connection to the characters and the events of your story. You want to make them care about what happens. (It’s also about you maintaining their interest – ensuring that they don’t feel like they’re reading drivel.)
One of the best ways to create an engaging story is to use language and imagery that the reader can relate to. If your writing is well crafted, it will make them feel like they are part of the event, even if it’s an event that they have never experienced. (This is why coming up with a unique language that the reader can relate to is so important.)
Build Tension And Resolution
This is probably the most important part of the process. You want to build up tension and then you want to resolve it. Tension is interesting and engaging when done correctly, and you want to make the reader want to turn the page or click on the next link. (It can also be a way to make the story more immersive – putting your reader in the middle of a harrowing event and making them feel involved and anxious for the characters’ sake.)
You can do this through a variety of means, but the most effective way is through effective dialogue and interesting character development. If you want to create an engaging read, don’t be afraid to write something that is a little less than enthralling. You can pull off an engaging read if the language and style is good enough. For instance, if you are writing a novel, it may well not be immediately apparent that there is a love story at the heart of your narrative. However, if the dialogue and prose is good enough, the reader will feel that they are following a love story, even if it isn’t explicitly stated as such. (The same goes for many genres – it’s all about the words and how you use them.)
When it comes to fiction, tension is usually built through obstacles that your character have to overcome. Love stories can be incredibly complicated to write, so if you want to write one, consider why you want to write it. If you are looking for inspiration, consider where you can find tension in your own life. (This is a key step in creating something that feels authentic.)
Resolution tends to be much simpler. You want your reader to feel that the events of your story have some kind of resolution. This can be through a happy ending or it can be through the characters learning something new or evolving in some way. (This is where self-reflection and growth play an important role.)
Overall, this is a really interesting process that can be incredibly rewarding. And who knows? Maybe, one day, you’ll even end up with a piece in a reputable publication or on a best-selling blog. All you need is a good story to tell.