If you’ve always believed in your writing skills, and want people to appreciate the stories you have in your mind, it is important to pen them down on paper rather than keeping in your head. However, just because you have some good ideas does not mean you can be a great writer. In order to write an interesting story, you need to understand every aspect of the literary world, and how to spin your words into everlasting tales.
No matter how charming you plan your protagonist to be, you need an interesting storyline to keep the readers interested. Every story has three acts (beginning, middle, end) formulated with the right mix of some key ingredients. A story needs to have an origination, escalation of a conflict and resolution.
Every story needs a vulnerable character, mixed up in a setting which is important to the narrative. The character’s meaningful choices will determine the outcome of your story, and reader’s interest. In simple words, every story is a journey of transformation from one situation to another. Sometimes, it’s also about the transformation of a character. A better understanding of the key ingredients that make up a story will help you tell your tale to the world.
The beginning of your story needs to grab a reader’s attention, and familiarize him with the mood, tone and setting of the story. It should also introduce the protagonist so that the reader invests some time and attention. Before a reader cares about the story, he needs to care about the protagonist.
The best way to introduce the protagonist is to set your reader’s expectations by revealing a basic portrait of the character. You need to give a glimpse of your character’s normal life to the reader. For instance, if your main character is a detective, readers want to see him more at crime scenes. Similarly, a college guy should be playing pranks in the college campus.
Whatever basic portrait you choose for the main character, you need to understand that it will also serve as a strong promise to your readers about the transformation which the character will undergo in the story.
The crisis is the plot of your story which will turn the protagonist’s world upside down. Your main character should not be able to immediately resolve the crisis. It should be an irrevocable and unavoidable challenge which sets your story into motion. The harmony of your character’s external and internal world should be upset by the crisis.
It is always better to make sure that crisis happens on the pages of the story so that your readers can experience it. It should not be a prologue from before the beginning of the story. The interplay between the two dynamics will take the story forward. Depending on the genre of your story, the crisis altering your character’s world may be a prophecy for his destiny, a quest to some new place, a problem which needs to be resolved and so on.
Most fantasy, science fiction and mythical stories choose this pattern. A romantic story may choose breaking off the wedding or divorce as the crisis. Similarly, an unsolvable case will be the crisis situation in a mystery story. In each case, the life of the protagonist will not be the same again.
Every story has two types of characters – Putty people and Pebble people. Pebble characters always remain unchanged. On the other hand, Putty characters change with situations. The protagonist always needs to be a Putty character. When there’s a crisis in your story, the main character should change forever. Moreover, he should also take some steps to resolve his struggle.
However, your protagonist needs to fail with his steps. Since he needs to be different at the end of the story, his failing attempts should keep changing his personality throughout the story. Putty people are always more interesting than pebble people.
The climax of your story should let the main character discover something which would change his life. It is better if the protagonist pieces together different clues from the story to make this discovery. This discovery will be his calling’. The external resolution and internal discovery will make life meaningful for the protagonist.
The main character’s discovery should come from his own choices rather than by chance. While the main character’s mentors guide him towards discovery, the courage and decisions which determine the outcome must come from him. A reader always wants to predict the end of a story. However, he also wants to be wrong. Therefore, the resolution of your story can only be satisfying when it’s unexpected yet inevitable.
While thinking about change, you need to consider a caterpillar entering the stage of a cocoon. At this stage, either the caterpillar turns into a beautiful butterfly or dies. However, the caterpillar never climbs out of its cocoon as a caterpillar again. It is changed forever. The same is true for your main character.
While developing your story, you need to determine the change of the caterpillar. Your protagonist will either plunge into despair and death or transform into someone more insightful and mature. Most of the time, the genre of your story dictates the direction of this change. Most horror stories end with some sort of death (psychological, physical, spiritual or emotions).
In other stories, the protagonist experiences a new life, whether it relates to psychological understanding, physical renewal, spiritual awakening or emotional healing. The change will make the resolution of the story’s crisis, and take the reader towards the end. Due to the struggle and discovery, the main character of your story will move towards this change.
Your story’s protagonist takes a new shape, and if he’s once again thrown into a crisis, a new story will develop. Every time, the old way of the main character’s life will change forever. The simple process of moving from the struggle through discovery will take the reader to the perfect end.
While writing a story, these ingredients need to come together in perfect proportions. You should not be afraid of trying new formulas, and break some rules for the sake of your story. It is important to understand what your readers would like.