How to Write a Good Story (Best Tips for Aspiring Authors)

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Reading a good story isn’t just fun—it can be a powerful and life-changing experience. We get emotionally attached to characters, uncover insights about our own lives, and sometimes even feel a “book hangover” for days after finishing a great book (or is that just me?).

 

 

But as an aspiring author, how do you take a story idea and actually write a compelling narrative that achieves all this? I’ve got some insights on navigating the creative writing process to produce a captivating story. While there’s no precise formula for writing a good story, understanding some essential elements can help you craft a tale that grabs a reader’s attention.

 

Basics of a Good Story

At the core of every great story are fundamental elements—characters, plot, and setting. These work together to bring your story to life. Developing your characters is crucial for helping readers feel connected, while the setting helps them visualize what’s happening and places them in the story.

Generally, your story’s plot should include conflict, tension, suspense, and maybe some controversy. With well-developed characters, a clearly defined setting, and a solid plotline, you’ve got the foundation for a fantastic story.

 

Storytelling Techniques

When it comes to storytelling techniques, foreshadowing, and flashbacks are essential elements that engage readers and make the story an immersive experience.

 

Foreshadowing subtly hints at what’s to come, creating anticipation. Sometimes, it’s obvious, while other times, it provides a full-circle moment that surprises the reader. Symbols, imagery, or dialogue can all serve as foreshadowing elements.

Flashbacks bring readers to past events within the story, offering insight into a character or plot point. A character might recall something from their past that another character said, thickening the plot, or they might dream about a past situation that drives the narrative.

 

Engaging, Memorable Characters

A good story typically hinges on engaging, complex, and memorable characters, often relatable ones. Focusing on character development is a surefire way to captivate readers. A well-thought-out character arc—showing the transformation characters undergo—gives your protagonists and antagonists depth, thus transforming your readers’ perspectives.

 

Your characters should convey humanness (even if they’re not human!). They need strengths, weaknesses, flaws, and quirks. Maybe they have a bad habit or a unique way of speaking. Additionally, your main character should go through a transition—their character arc—that tracks their growth and development.

 

 

Think about some of your favorite characters in stories you’ve read and note aspects of their personalities that you love. What gave them depth? What made them relatable? Incorporate these elements into your own characters and your story.

 

Plot Development

A well-developed plot includes a consistent throughline—perhaps the problem your narrative aims to solve. From beginning to end, ensure your plot always returns to this throughline.

Of course, you can have plot twists, but having one overarching, central issue keeps readers engaged and furthers the plot. Ensure the plot’s pacing makes sense, accelerating when there’s action and urgency and slowing to develop key plot points or characters. This push and pull in plot development and pacing makes for a more captivating read.

 

Climax and Resolution

The climax is when all the suspense and tension culminate, typically serving as the story’s turning point where the main character faces the conflict and seeks resolution.

While the climax has a significant impact on the reader, the resolution provides closure. At this point, many questions raised throughout the book are answered; the action abates, and you tie up loose ends, leave some threads untangled, or leave characters’ futures up for interpretation.

 

Dialogue

Like a play, you can tell an entire story through character dialogue—if crafted to advance the plot. Mastering dialogue moves the narrative forward, creates more developed characters, and evokes more emotion from your reader. Good dialogue “shows” rather than “tells” the action and suspense.

 

 

Edit and Polish (and Edit Again)           

You can have the greatest plot twists, the most suspenseful rising action, and well-developed characters, but misspellings, inconsistencies, and grammar errors will take your reader out of the story. Do yourself and your readers a favor by working with a professional editor to address errors before publishing.

 

Writing a good story combines imagination and structure, decision-making and creativity, weaving everything together to create an experience your readers will think about long after finishing the last page.

 

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