Writing can take many different forms and structures, but it all comes down to telling a sound story. After all, writing allows authors to share their vision of the world with the target audience, while readers wait eagerly to become a part of the brave new world of literature.
But how exactly do you tell a good story?
It is by no means an easy feat, particularly if you know that books are getting shorter every year. A modern book lover obviously doesn’t want to read 500 or 600 pages, which makes it harder for writers to come up with a convincing story.
If you want to master the art of storytelling, you must be highly creative and use the state of the art content creation principles. Our goal is to help you with the latter, so keep reading to learn eight writing tips that will make you a powerful storyteller.
We already mentioned that modern readers don’t want to waste time reading hundreds of pages before finally getting to the point. On the contrary, they want action from page one and your job is to indulge them.
According to the report, growing numbers of children are being turned off by books by the end of primary school because of the influence of the Internet and lack of reading in the home. The situation is not much better with older readers as people are getting used to consuming quick and ephemeral content daily.
In such circumstances, you ought to start strong by immersing readers into the story straight away. There is no need to describe the whole context first (we’ll get back to that soon) because it might fend off impatient readers.
The beginning of J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” says it all: “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it.”
Write with the audience in mind
When it comes to the writing approach, there are little to no differences between traditional literature, digital marketing, and copywriting. How come?
The general rule of thumb is that every author needs to write according to the needs, beliefs, and expectations of the target audience. This is the only way to keep your readers interested in a story and make them want to read page after page without taking a break.
Every author opts for a specific genre, whereas every genre has a more or less unique target group. Let’s imagine three different contexts for example:
- The target audience consists of high schools kids
- The target audience consists of middle-aged business women
- The target audience consists of retired war veterans
You don’t have to be a storytelling guru to figure out that each of these groups of readers demands a totally different storytelling approach. Your job is to acknowledge the peculiarities of the audience and use the kind of language that makes your story interesting to the average reader.
Structure your text properly
The structure of your narrative is yet another very important aspect of storytelling. A storyline often begins with a typical “once upon a time,” but it’s an outdated concept that doesn’t suit the demands of the 21st century storytelling.
A good author will always try to find a fresh storytelling angle that blends different practices, but we can remind you of a few common plotline solutions here:
- Linear plotlines tell a story in chronological order and it is still the most popular format.
- Nonlinear plotlines use a totally different approach by jumping from one point in time to another.
- Circular plotlines end exactly where they begin. In the meantime, the main characters undergo a complete transformation.
- Parallel plotlines consist of multiple storylines that end up intertwined thanks to the special event, theme, or character.
- Interactive plotlines give readers the chance to choose where to read from, thus making the story more engaging.
Set the context
Now that you’ve successfully hooked the reader thanks to a strong start and an eye-pleasing style of writing, it is time to set the context of your story.
It’s a segment that slows down the whole process, but it is necessary because not everything in your novel can be action, thriller, and suspense. After all, you need to make the story meaningful by giving the audience an entire set of basic information about your characters and the situations they’re in.
One of the most productive tactics is to rely on the well-known journalistic approach and answer the 5W+H questions:
Who does what, where, when, why, and how?
If you answer all of these questions precisely, rest assured your readers will know the whole context of the story and have enough knowledge about what’s going on in the story. It’s a necessary background that makes it possible to move on with your story.
The ultimate purpose of every story is to leave an impression on the readers. The only way to do it is through emotions, so you better make sure to evoke emotional reactions among the audiences.
Here’s what Maya Angelou, a world-famous author, said about emotions in writing:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel.”
Most people immediately think about the feeling of sadness or sorrow, but these are not the only emotions you can play with. On the contrary, there are tons of other emotions to consider and take advantage of in your creative process, including the likes of curiosity, fear, anger, happiness, joy, anxiety, tension, and many more.
The only thing that really matters is to use emotions strategically in order to build a strong connection with your audience.
Number six on our list is probably the most critical element of a powerful story. Namely, suspense well-executed can completely change the audience’s attitude towards the novel and make readers desperate to find out the outcome.
Cliffhangers in storytelling are the best way to evoke the feeling of anticipation among readers and convince them to keep reading until the problem is resolved.
If you’ve ever watched a TV show, you must’ve noticed that every episode ends with a different cliffhanger. This is suspense in action, a moment of truth that makes people wonder what will happen next and glues them to their seats the following day.
Of course, storytelling is not all about suspense. While you do want to keep readers on the edge of their seats, you should also give them some rest through comic reliefs or simple storytelling breaks. How can you do it effectively?
One solution is to describe the scenery. It is a big opportunity for the author to prove his/her attention to detail, but it serves another purpose as well. Describing the ambiance helps you to supplement the story and show the feelings your characters are going through. For instance, an empty room might reflect the emptiness in one’s soul.
Besides that, you should try to show things instead of telling them. If you are writing about a room, do your best to cover even the smallest details. Every item and every color you mention should contribute to the story by revealing the true personality of your character.
You cannot find a great storyteller – from Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky to Dickens and Hemingway – who is not detail-oriented and able to make perfect descriptions of the surrounding environment.
Think about the moral of the story
However good or bad, every story has a special purpose. It is your unique moral and point that comes as a specific subtext of the entire novel. Ask yourself these questions:
- Why am I writing this piece of work?
- What are the messages and the ideas of my story?
- How can I make them clearer?
As soon as you answer these questions, it will be easier to write the whole story. Your job is to keep this main idea on your mind all the time because the entire text is supposed to lead to that one conclusion.
Think about Melville’s “Moby Dick” or Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea.”
These are not simple fishing stories, but rather complex literature works with lots of hidden messages. The same logic applies to all stories, so the only real challenge is how to make it work well for your novel.
Up to You!
Writing requires a lot of imagination and strategic planning, especially if you want to design a convincing story. In this post, we discussed eight writing tips that could make you a powerful storyteller.
Did you like our suggestions? Do you have other interesting storytelling ideas to share with our readers? Make sure to leave a comment and we will get back to you quickly!