In this episode, I’m sharing five fundamentals that contribute to good storytelling.
Welcome back everyone, how is it going? Today’s episode is going to be especially helpful for any aspiring writers who are just starting out. Anyone can put pen to paper and start writing a story. Not everyone finishes that story though, and very few are capable of writing a good story.
But what actually defines “good storytelling”?
That’s what we’re going to chat about in today’s episode—so that you can have awareness and aim to write the best possible version of that story inside you.
It’s time for tool tip of the day—I love using tools and tips to automate my workflow and make running a business so much easier, and I aim to share one tool or tip per episode that I personally use and recommend! Today, I’m recommending World Anvil.
World Anvil is like that popular program for writers you might have heard of called Notebook.AI—except this one is so much better. It allows you to build a story bible, starting with your story’s world and narrowing down into every other possible aspect there is. Characters, items, buildings, traditions, spells… the list goes on and on. I highly recommend it for new writers because the prompts can get you thinking about story aspects you might not have thought to include.
If you want to check out World Anvil, I’ve got a link in the show notes so that you can easily go take a look. Make sure you do after the show.
Okay, we’re back—so let’s take a look at the five key fundamentals of good storytelling… starting with the first one:
Of course, everything starts with a plot. If you don’t have a plot idea, there’s nothing really inspiring you to write. So what qualifies as a decent plot?
Here’s a hint: anything. You can write about anything—and if you have enough guts and creativity, you can make the most simple, boring concepts completely enthralling. If you really think about it, every incredible story idea out of there consists of a very basic, simple idea mixed with some kind of interesting twist.
Harry Potter is about life at a boarding school, except it’s for wizards.
The Fault In Our Stars is about a teenage romance, except they both have cancer.
A Court Of Thorns And Roses is a retelling of Beauty And The Beast, except with faeries.
Of course, all these books go into waaaaay more depth and have their own original stories, conflicts and plot points, but you’re starting at the beginning. So find some bare bones and start building on them.
The next point we’re going to cover is:
Without good characters, you don’t really have a story—characters are the forefront of everything and they drive the story forward. They also build the emotional hook with your reader—so it’s well worth it to write fleshed out characters.
Characters are kind of like onions—they have layers. There’s the surface level, physical appearance. Then there’s the internal, personality part. And finally, there’s the deeply rooted backstory part which influences a lot of their choices and decisions.
To write a well-developed character, you want to dive into all three of these layers and explore who you character really is. Don’t be afraid to have fun with it!
This leads us into point number three:
Now that you know who’s getting involved in the conflict, it’s time to take a look at what actually goes down in the story. Your plot should give you a general overview of the story’s direction and aim, so use this to figure out what conflicts and obstacles are going to arise.
A great way to enhance the impact of the conflict is to build in stakes and motivations for each character. The stronger the motivation, and the higher the stakes, the more engaged your reader is going to be—and this is where having a well-developed character and a deep understanding of them is going to help you a lot!
Our fourth point for today is:
Great settings and worldbuilding has the power to really impress and engage readers presently into your world—so it’s worth putting in the time to make it decent. Just like characters have layers, worlds have layers too. You have the surface level features (which include everything physical about the world—think geography, architecture, and things like that). Then you have the internal features (which dives into how the world is structured, or with towns—the culture, the type of community, the resources, etc.)
Finally, you have the unseen elements, and this includes stuff like time period, magic, technology and government.
And finally, our last point for today is:
Your writing style is completely unique and everyone develops theirs individually. Some readers love a particular type of writing style—while others can read just about anything. But your writing style says a lot about the kind of stories you’re telling, and the kinds of readers you’re attracting.
Writing style refers to the structure, the flow, the description and the feeling of your writing. A good storyteller has a writing style that flows smoothly, is structured well, has balanced description and evokes some kind of positive feeling for the reader—whether it be that they are entertained, intrigued, or even inspired by it. You don’t want them to be bored or struggling to follow the story.
That’s all I have for you today—if you found this episode helpful please share it! You can also tag me over on Instagram @paganatpaperback—that’s all lowercase and one word BTW.
And, make sure you join me two weeks from now, because I’ll be back with another episode of The Paperback Podcast.