Hi all! It’s April, spring is here….I’m just saying it is because here in Georgia we went from hiking in snow flurries one morning to sitting outside in 70 degrees the next afternoon. So maybe if we just call spring out, it will come. For good! No more cold. :)
I had the honor of speaking at a writer’s group this last week. A great group of Christian authors. We talked about storytelling and how powerful it is. I talked about how some of my favorite authors are simply great storytellers. You can write the perfect story, grammatically correct, no comma mistakes, but if you don’t know how to tell a story, people won’t connect. I’ve read so many contest entries that were technically perfect, but they lacked story.
We talked about what made up a great story. How writers need to connect with readers. If there is no relatability to the characters and their situations, the reader won’t make it past the first chapter. We brought out 5 elements that make a great story.
- Empathy—writers create a situation where we can relate to the hero or heroine. Even if their particular situation isn’t one you’ve been through, usually there are general elements that relate. In the story I just finished writing my heroine comes back after 24 years to tell her ex high school sweetheart that he has a son. The son has been in an accident, and is physically fine, but mentally has lost his zest for life. Can’t we all relate to wanting our loved ones to be the best they can be?
- Problems—Yes, there are problems that create conflict between the characters. In my book the problems abound, but suffice it to say the hero and heroine are working together to solve more than one of them.
- Solutions–although mostly temporary—Yes, there has to be a rest for the reader and the characters alike. So we have solutions, even though they aren’t long term to give the reader a chance to breath and the characters a chance to relax slightly. (just slightly, though)
- Black moment—This is it—all is lost! The moment when their past hurts and circumstances come full circle and everything seems lost. Of course this moment should be believable and real.
- Happy Ending–for romances, a must Yes, this is where we see the hero and heroine grow and put to use the changes they learned in their journey.
Depending on how long your story is, you may have more problems and temporary solutions cycling through, or those same elements for subplots and minor characters. But in all these elements, there must be a compelling story. Usually, if a writer chooses to write a story, they have some personal connection in some way to the tale. They add their uniqueness and originality which makes the story theirs and only they could have written it that way.
I think most writers have a natural gift for storytelling. It’s what drives us to put the words on the page. I know I have my fav authors–and I know when I pick up their books, they will tell the story well.
Do you recognize any of those 5 elements in the books you read? I’d love to hear about what your favorite elements of story are. I know we all like happy endings? Don’t we?
We’re heading into my favorite day of the year, Easter. What a wonderful day! Enjoy, love well, and rejoice in our Savior!