How to Write a Great Story!
In light of World Storytelling Day, we thought it would be a nice idea to look at the main components of a story. Who knows, maybe it'll help bring out the creative writer in you! If we whittle it down, a story has five basic – but very important – elements. We know that the plot is the actual story of a book, and should have a clear beginning, middle, and end with descriptions and allure (called exposition) so that the reader can make sense of all of the following elements. But, in order to develop your plot, you will need to create and describe the following:
Characters can be divided into “protagonists” and “antagonists” – the protagonist is the main character around which the story surrounds itself. They determine how the plot will develop according to the conflict and resolution. The antagonist is another important character, but one that challenges the protagonist and creates a struggle of sorts.
The setting is composed of the place and time – this can be a particular era, or a location such as a city, country, house, or completely imaginary place! You should be able to describe the surroundings of the story in detail so that readers can visualise the story, whether this is a fantasy or regular environment.
The plot is based around the conflict, and how all of your characters will try to resolve this conflict. There are two types of conflict to think about, and you can use as many or as little as you like!
- Internal conflict: this usually takes the form of person vs. self – the main character might be having an internal struggle with their own personal self
- External conflict: this usually takes the form of person vs. nature, person vs. person, or person vs. society. For instance, person vs. nature might be a character overcoming natural or even environmental events, person vs. person might be a character struggling directly with the antagonist, and person vs. society might be a character struggling with societal standards or greater ideologies.
When it comes to defining your conflict, it might be helpful to consider that some of the best stories out there have blended many struggles and conflicts together. This adds richness and layers to the story, and gives characters and plot much more depth.
The resolution is simply the solution to the conflict. It is important to remember that the resolution makes sense and falls in line with the characters’ personalities and traits, and perhaps indicates some growth or realisation in some way. It is also important that the resolution stays in line with the rest of the story and all parts are solved – if that is how you would like your story to end. Resolutions do not always need to be happy, and the ends do not always have to be perfect, but it has to conclude the story in some way or another.
The theme is the central idea or moral of the story, and holds all of the elements together. It is an underlying message that you would like your readers to leave with, such as “love conquers all” or “the good overcomes the bad”. Many themes have become clichés in that they are so often and overtly used, but this should not deter you! The theme is whatever idea you think is important to your story, and should hold a deeper meaning to you, your characters, and/or your readers.