4 Storytelling Basics

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If you think storytelling doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t be discouraged. There are rules and guidelines specifically tailored for people like you.

Without further ado, here are the 4 storytelling basics that will get you right on track.


Lay out the framework

The basics of a story are, in general, the same. You have a character going through an obstacle to reach a goal. You could take it a step further to have more than one main character bustling through different obstacles to reach differing goals, but save that for later, okay?


Set up the start, middle, and end

The start sets up everything about the story. Introduce your readers to the world of the main character. Show bits of the character’s background and his problem. Don’t explain too much in this part, save them for the middle where you shows the main character struggling to overcome his challenge. Finish off the story in the ending where the problem is resolved and all questions answered.


Add some details.

Details can make or break a story. Who is this character of yours? Is it The Chosen One or a nobody who you’ll never remember should you ever pass him by on the street? Explain his quirks and flaws and how they affect his effort in confronting his problems.


The details should expand to the world of the story. Whether the story is set in the real world or in some imaginary worlds, make sure your readers can see it when they read your story.


Remember to be consistent with your details. Take The Hobbits, for example, which started as a bedtime story. Tolkien’s son, Christopher, was meticulous about the details. Whenever he heard something inconsistent, he would bring that up immediately to his father. Tolkien was so annoyed by it, he started to jot down all the details about the characters, their features, and every little thing that is in the imaginary world of the Hobbits.


Granted, you don’t need to give your fist story exquisite plot with many hidden sub-plots and twists. Start simple and make sure you have all the ingredients in order. When you do, it’s time for you to add one last spice.


Make your story relatable.

If you want people to be attached to the story you’re telling, make it relevant. Don’t be like the guy who is more than willing to babble about his worst day to anyone who says hi. Even when people give him “I couldn’t care less” look, he just keeps on babbling.


Do you know why many adults were so enthusiastic when The Incredibles 2 was announced? Because they love the first, that’s why. It was a story about superheroes but it also connected to millions of adults. People can even see a bit about themselves in the villain, Syndrome. He was not happy in his own skin, his own life, and want to be somebody else. It was relatable. It was relevant.


Okay, that’s all for our 4 storytelling basics. One more thing, should you wish to publish the story on your blog or submit it for a contest, do yourself a big favor and check thoroughly for any spelling and grammar mistakes. It shows professionalism and tells people that you care about the details.


Finally, to be good at storytelling you will need practice – lots and lots of it. Make it a habit to churn out a story once a week. It doesn’t matter if it’s short, just keep going at it and enjoy your journey to storytelling mastery.