Who does not love a good story? I might not remember what I ate for breakfast a couple of day ago but I still remember the stories I heard when I was still a child. Don’t You?
We remember stories because of what we learnt from them but more importantly we remember stories because of how it made us feel.
A really good story makes a lasting impression on our mind.
So what separates the good stories from the bad? What makes a story really great? Why is it that we remember some stories so much more?
The 4 factors that make a story a great story
A story tells you what happened. A great story walks you through how it happened.
- A great story has a beginning that sets the tone for the rest of the story.
For E.g.: Refugees by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle started describing the main characters of the story and then proceeded to explain in detail the King of France and the cronies that surrounded him. The mental state the King was when he banishes the Huguenot soldier who once saved his life gives it depth.
- The build up to the climax is steady and does not lose pace. This is what keeps the audience hooked wanting to know what happened next.
- The climax does not have to be “and they lived happily after” it. The climax is where the audience disengages from the story still believing to be engaged in the story. The climax invokes emotions that create a lasting impression.
A great story does not have to be fake or fictional or plain facts. A great story needs to invoke emotions.
When James Frey [Million Little Pieces] meets his parents for a family counseling his state of emotions make you feel for the guy. He is obviously in pain and wants help without even asking for help.
A story without emotions involved is just stating plain facts and facts are boring.
What are you more likely to read 10 applications of the value of PI or how PI changed the world? Obviously, because it plays on your emotion of curiosity.
A story is only good as the characters. A good story may get ruined because of average characters. A good story will get ruined because of bad characters.
Lastly and more importantly the audience is what matters. Not everyone will like the story. It depends on what interests them but if no one likes your story then there is probably something wrong with your story.
What makes someone like your story?
Relate: How much does the audience identify with the story or the characters of the story. If you are a writer, how likely are you to read the story of the writer who gained 10K in 18 months? Now how likely are you to read the story if you were a doctor or a corporate executive.
These four factors turn a good story to a great story. What’s your favorite story and why do you like it so much?