Five Elements of a Good Story
Part 2 of 2
Ok, we know WHY good storytellers are important, but here are a few tips for those of us who are still working on the craft.
1. Tell the Story for an Audience
If a story only resonates with the person who is telling it, then they should just be talking to a mirror. The best stories are those that speak to their audience directly and compel them to confront new realities. Good stories hit the listener in their soul and make them feel as if the writer or speaker is talking to them on a personal level. When a listener has the chance to feel a greater connection with the story, they are more likely to remember it.
2. Make Sure your Characters have Depth and Dimension
When telling a story, it is often tempting to simplify each character and make one the hero and the other into a villain. But those make for some pretty boring (and short) stories. Ever wonder what made the Wicked Witch of the West so wicked? So did Gregory Maguire, the author of Wicked – the popular novel and Broadway extravaganza that explored the virtues of good vs. evil. Are we born that way? What made Elphaba (or the Wicked Witch) so dang MEAN to Dorothy? Making your characters more nuanced and complicated will allow the audience to empathize in a way not possible with just an “evil witch.”
3. Serving a Greater Purpose
The vast majority of good stories point to a far greater purpose and they use their characters as an allegory to send a certain message. When writing or telling a story, it is important to have a specific purpose in mind, a lesson that you would like your audience to take from the proceedings. Otherwise, you are simply speaking for the sake of speaking.
Respect your audience. Those who will be reading your story are far more intelligent than we typically give them credit for, especially from an emotional standpoint. Emotional intelligence is all about being able to tell when a person is not being entirely truthful. When a story is written from a perspective that is dishonest or inauthentic, the audience will know right away. Tell your story in a manner that is true to yourself so that your readers and listeners can be inspired.
5. Offer Room For Interpretation
Think about some of the best movies or TV shows that you have seen. A lot of them had open ended meanings, that gave the audience something to chew on afterwards, right? The last scene of The Sopranos comes to mind… A good story should not be any different. By providing your audience with a number of different interpretations to take, this ensures that the story will remain present in their hearts and minds long after it has been told.
This is a topic that is near and dear to our hearts at VISVA, so be on the look for other examples on our social media channels of good story tellers and their techniques.
If you have a good story let us know and we could even post it and promote it for you.
LINKS FOR SOCIAL SUPPORT OF STORY TELLING: