HOW TO WRITE A COMPELLING STORY—This is a question we’ve heard before, and many a writers before have searched up, watched videos, and looked at articles with hopeful thoughts, frustrating moments, and sometimes to no avail.

But, here’s where I come in. If you are a troubled writer, then I’m here to assist you. This article will contain information that at the very least may appeal to a few of you. As a fellow writer, I wish to offer some of what I learned over the course of my experiences. With that, let’s get right into this!

So, first things first, how do you even begin a story? Do you just start writing on a piece of paper or just start smashing the computer keyboard in hopes that an awe-inspiring, intriguing story and idea will come to you?

Well, obviously not. If you want a interesting and compelling story, it always start with a little planning.

Planning out the storyline

To create that awesome and amazing story, one must first come up with a well thought out storyline a.k.a the plot. If you’re unfamiliar with the term the storyline or plot is simply what your story is all about. 

Before we go deeper into this, I’d like to take a little dive into genres. Take note of what genre you are writing in and know what the limitations of your story.

For example, let’s say you have a horror story and you choose to add comedic elements, this simple choice can affect everything about your story. Why? Because the tone, mood, and theme is all affected by what genres you decide to focus on. If you know the scope of your story you will know how these details affect your story and storyline. It’s important not to go haphazard and choose whatever genre you come across. If you do, you may cause your readers confusion and at worst, neither you nor the readers would know what to expect of your story.

This is not to say that it is bad to have a story filled with diverse genres, but it’s a tricky thing to do and is usually a hit-or-miss. If you’re still new to writing try to stick with the genres you are familiar with.

Now, once you’ve selected your genre, it becomes easier to plan out your story. To create your storyline, gather the ideas you think are good, connect them altogether, and make sure to fill any gaps. Let’s say you have a power system, if you think it’s good, add it to the story, if you think a certain event is good, then go add it. Make a list of concepts related to your story and slowly connect them with events.

However, just because your ideas and concepts are good that won’t automatically mean the story is, so be sure to look at your own story through the lens of a reader. Ask yourself questions like is this interesting? Would I read this? Would this make sense?

Once you’ve planned that, it’s time to get deep! It’s time to consider the essence of the storyline itself, and listen carefully, this is a big one!

There are so many ways your story could go, and so many ways you could plan things out. But what separates your story from boring to interesting is all how you execute the story.

An interesting story is one that goes out of the norm and are typically above and beyond others, in short, unique. While the generic story is one that follows the typical clichés and adds little to nothing to the genres they are in.

Obviously as a writer, you’d want to write the interesting story over the generic one. But here’s the catch! Both types of stories can be compelling if you know how to write them. Let me explain.

Let’s begin with the generic story, how can something that has been done a thousand times already be compelling? Well, look around you. It’s not that surprising if you observe more. It’s simple when you try to analyze why. The characters, the settings, the visuals, the dialogue are all factors which can change the view of the readers no matter how repetitive a story has gotten.

If you’re having a hard time coming up with a unique plot, don’t be shy to grab a plot that has been used a thousand times. Literature has been around for ages, so a lot of ideas have already been used. However! Do take note, if you’re sticking to a generic story be sure to know what the audience wants or what the audience expects and take your own minor spin on it. Try not break off too far from what your readers expect, or else you’re heading into uncharted territory, and at worst, losing and upsetting your readers.

Now, let’s talk about the interesting story. These are the types that go forth into said uncharted territory and explore areas writers haven’t stepped into before. This is quite vague and undoubtedly, harder to do since you’re doing a one-of-a-kind story. One of the most famous genres that go into these are the deconstructions of basically any genre.

Take a look at the Jappanese Anime Madoka Magica by Studio Shaft. This TV show is well know for the way it deconstructed the common tropes and genres of Magical Girls in media.

But wait, what is deconstruction you ask? Well, deconstruction is simply taking a deeper look into your specific genre(s) and breaking apart to make something new. There are numerous ways to go about deconstructions, but one of the most effective is to do a tone split and breaking audience expectations. That means taking something that the audience expected from that genre and then completely turning that idea on its on head; Think, what would happen if Prince Charming wasn’t so Prince Charming when Cinderella and them had their happy ending?

Doing these types of deconstructions, can give your story the feeling that it is self-awareness and realistic.

One of the techniques I’ve mastered in particular, is unpredictability. For me, I like to look at my story as a reader and try to think about what the reader would expect from it. Then I would divert off of that, catching them off guard.

Fleshing out the characters

Characters are the life of the story and they carry the story. It’s important that your story isn’t just interesting but so are your characters. Take for focus, the main character. The main character since is the catalyst of your story’s events. Over the course of the story it is your main character who interacts in the world you’ve created and brings into action. So you must establish your main character.

How do you do that? Define their personality, their traits, their habits, and make sure they’re loveable, or else the readers wouldn’t feel eager to follow the story unless certain exceptions. To make them loveable, you have to make them feel human, and to make them feel human, you need to make the characters feel relatable.

Give them good qualities, but not too much good qualities, or they’ll feel flat and unreal. Many stories suffer from this. This is because if you give your character too much, readers might feel like your character is already a perfect human being devoid of any mistakes. That leaves little to no room for their development, and you need character development. If they’re perfect, then they would have no problem confronting their problems and bringing the story to its conclusion. Don’t do this, make a flawed protagonist and this can apply to any character. Bottom line is to make them human, messy humans.

Another thing to do to make your characters feel alive is to provide them a unique view, an ideology or philosophy they follow throughout the story.

Once you have a compelling characters you might want to think about the villain. And villains…oh boy, they are more than important they are vital to the story. Villains antagonize the protagonist and characters, be it for the sake of good or evil. And your villain doesn’t have to always be evil. They can just have a twisted justice or simply just not agree with your main characters.

Most of the time, Villains challenge the protagonist in their ideals, symbolizing a battle of light vs dark, but what is more meaningful is to make the villains provide a view that makes the protagonist question his/her own. Or give a sense that this world isn’t only white and black to the protagonist is one of the most thrilling moments of any story.

Introduce the villain at a certain seemingly non-related event and pull the strings from the shadows, so that when they finally make an appearance, it surprises the reader and keep them pulled into your story. But, don’t just introduce a villain out of nowhere, they must used at critical points in your story to make it interesting and compelling. Villains used only for making the protagonist stronger for physical prowess or any kind of powers is usually a turn-off for most readers. So it’s important to remember, your villain is there to make your story more page turning and gripping, not just there as a design piece against your main characters—use them wisely.

Story Beats/Story Events

Story beats are what’s happening in the story. You need to make the most out of these events, be it world-building or character development, and most especially foreshadowing. 

Foreshadowing is a very important element of storytelling. It provides a preview and hints of upcoming story events. When the hints are pieced together and solved, it bring great satisfaction to the readers, so make sure to drop hints of certain things or events at long intervals so that the thing you’re trying to say isn’t too apparent. 

Events are the best way to show world-building, since the characters are in a place with their own history which may provide a clue to how the world around them works. Lore, or the history of the world they live in, provide some lore to give the reader a sense that there is a moving world around the characters. 

Whatever you do for your story, ensure that at the end of day, you can love it and so can your readers.

I hope this helps anyone who’s struggling there even by a little! Keep an eye on the blog for more helpful tips and tricks for writers!

With that, I sign off!

Ⓐⓜⓔⓡⓞⓝ Ⓦ .

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9 replies on “How to Write a Compelling Story”

  • Shahi John
    June 18, 2022 at 1:17 pm

    Nice. Really helpful.

    • Ameron Werschrux
      June 18, 2022 at 4:14 pm

      Thanks!

  • June 18, 2022 at 4:11 pm

    This was really helpful, I’m glad I came here…. thanks a lot

    • Ameron Werschrux
      June 18, 2022 at 4:14 pm

      Any time!

  • Beatrix
    June 19, 2022 at 1:50 am

    Loved it!

  • AlicoleChronicler
    June 19, 2022 at 2:07 am

    Thank you for a great article! It helped me remember all the crucial elements for writing a compelling story. Some things seem so obvious that I tend to forget about them.

  • ObstinateFalcon
    June 19, 2022 at 7:31 am

    That was nice, just when I needed it too!

  • ZeroXO666
    July 6, 2022 at 11:55 pm

    Great work, really helpful and i will definitely take some of the advice this gave into play when I write.

  • sunshineburst01
    May 28, 2024 at 1:38 am

    great article