good story

Good Story: 10 Elements to Creating a Great Story

Salmaan Ahmad

Salmaan Ahmad

April 10, 2024

Coming up with a good story idea is just the first step in writing a book. Bringing together characters, writing plot actions that build tension, and developing actions that will resolve the major conflict all play a part in creating a good story. But turning a concept into a full-fledged story that readers will love takes planning and intentional creation by an author. So what makes a good story? Let’s look at the elements writers should consider to transform a book concept into a good story.

1 A Good Story Has an Effective Beginning

Every story starts with an exposition, the start of the story where the author begins to lay the groundwork of the book. But a good story has a few shared characteristics that authors can apply to any genre.

1 The beginning scenes should create questions in the reader’s mind. Planting the seeds of the plot should encourage the reader to wonder what is coming next and how the plot will unfold. Authors can plant these question seeds in a few ways.

  • Stories can start with a scene that needs to be explained to the reader. Opening scenes that need more detail and background content to understand make readers wonder what is happening and what will happen next.
  • Books that begin with a character acting unexpectedly are a great way to instigate a question in the reader’s mind. When we see someone acting unusually, we want to know why and what makes the character act differently.

2 Strong beginnings can provide a teaser about the plot, the main character or the story’s main conflict. This hint is usually just a glimpse into the story’s main elements.

3 A strong beginning will hook the reader into a good story by using clear, straightforward and descriptive language that reflects the author’s unique writing style.

4 A solid beginning may introduce the conflict or the main characters in the first scenes. The character may be introduced by showing a pivotal moment in their story arc or even providing context by presenting a short backstory to help readers learn about who they are. The conflict may be introduced by hinting at the upcoming conflict or jumping right into a scene with the main conflict.

5 All strong beginnings give readers a reason to keep reading. The audience should feel drawn into the story with a beginning that pulls them into the heart of the plot and character development.

2 A Good Story Uses Pacing and Rhythm

Authors who write good stories vary in sentence structure throughout the book. They use sentence construction to reflect the tone of a chapter, section, or even the whole book. Short and choppy sentences convey a more harsh or cold impression while long and flowery sentence construction and word choices create a completely different feeling in a reader.

In addition, the author’s writing style contributes to how the reader perceives the story, the characters, and the conflicts presented in a story. Writers can use stylistic choices in word choice, inflection, and sentence construction to speed up or slow down how a reader takes in a story.

3 Conflict and Tension Create Good Stories

Another element that contributes to a good story is the development of conflict and tension.

  • Internal conflict describes how characters are at odds with some aspect of their personality. Internal conflicts help define characters by showing their struggles with impulse control, facing challenges, or even overcoming addictions. These types of conflicts often hold back characters from resolving conflict or are used to build tension throughout the story.
  • External conflicts are problems between a character and an outside force. These conflicts may be with another character, an object, or even nature.
  • Good stories usually involve multiple types of conflict to build tension in the plot and subplots of major and minor characters.

4 Good Stories Are Built Around Well-Written Settings

The world where characters live helps provide the context for their lives and actions. Creating a believable world or successfully conveying a description of a real or historical setting is crucial to developing a good story that your readers will connect with. Authors can build an authentic setting in three main ways.

1 Let the location become a character through descriptive writing. Give the setting human-like descriptions to allow the reader to feel the authenticity of the place. For example, instead of saying the sweltering heat of the city in summer, using the city itself seemed to sweat in the abject heat makes the setting come alive as a character and not a static location.

2 Allow time to affect the setting. Authors should refer to settings over time, letting the reader see the natural changes that occur to places throughout the story’s timeframe.

3 Use deep descriptions to make real or invented settings feel authentic. Drawing comparisons to known places and taking time to describe different aspects of a location in detail can help create a clear, real picture of the setting for the reader.

5 Subplots Are Key to Writing a Good Story

In addition to the main plot line in a book, good stories also include subplots, also called secondary plots. These subplots are essential to creating an interesting story with layered characters who have multifaceted lives. Secondary plots can serve as a platform for providing background information that can help build the reader’s confidence and trust in the characters involved.

Subplots can also be used to explain character motivation by creating challenges in resolving their conflicts, helping to move the main plot forward. Good stories also include subplots because they can be utilized to add depth to the main themes of the story by creating different perspectives on the themes through the lives of secondary characters.

6 Good Stories Include Plenty of Dramatic Content

Part of what makes a story great is the presence of tension and conflict. But good stories also have strong characters who go through challenges with authentic emotions. These experiences are the building blocks of the dramatic content that draws readers to a story and keeps them interested in the character’s lives.

7 Memorable Characters are Essential in A Good Story

Every author intends to create characters that readers love (or love to hate), but what makes a character memorable?

  • They have unique perspectives that are highlighted by their experiences
  • Their actions and emotions are believable within the context of their life and world
  • Their motivations and challenges are relatable so readers can form a connection to the character
  • Readers learn about their flaws and weaknesses as well as their strengths
  • Something about their appearance is distinctive like gait, voice, hair color, or size and that sets them apart from other characters
  • Readers can experience a complete character arc over the time frame of the story so that the readers see the character’s growth or changes by the end

8 The Middle of a Good Story Stays Consistent

One of the biggest challenges authors face is avoiding the “mushy middle,” the central portion of a story that can get bogged down with necessary actions and plot devices but doesn’t excite readers in the process. Authors can avoid the mushy middle by introducing subplots that keep the flow of the story and increase tension, adding new characters to complicate the plot and create conflict or introducing revelations about conflict that will keep the reader guessing about the conclusion.

9 Meaningful Dialogue Makes a Story Good

All good stories use dialogue to move along the plot and fill in details for the reader about the past and present. But good stories only present realistic dialogue occasionally because authentic speech is full of filler words like “um” or “uh” more often than we would like to admit. Character dialogue should avoid these fillers and only utilize them when they are key to understanding a character’s experience or emotional state.

10 Good Stories End Strong

The conclusion of a story offers authors one last spot to connect with readers and leave them with a solid vision of the story. But good stories have a few shared characteristics that excite readers and leave them with a positive feeling when the story is wrapped up.

  • Good endings aren’t predictable
  • Strong conclusions let tensions rise before coming to a resolution
  • Effective endings resolve the story’s major conflict
  • Good endings leave readers feeling like the story is complete, even if the story continues in another book

Publish Your Own Good Story

Putting together a good story your readers will love is the first step in becoming a published author. Publishing Xpress is ready to take the next step with you by partnering with you so you can bring your book to life in a beautifully printed book.

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