How to tell a Good Story

The phrase “there’s a novel inside everyone” along with the phrase ” everyone has fifteen minutes of fame” has unfortunately encouraged people the world over to believe that they have a talent in something that they sometimes blatantly do not.

Everyone thinks they can write these days. I am an avid book reader, but I am finding myself more and more often not able to finish a book because the quality of the writing is so bad that I just can’t continue. There is nothing good about a lot of books that are on the shelves nowadays, just like there is nothing good in a lot of reality T.V. shows. When you have thirty-one year old glamour models releasing three auto-biographies and a ghost-written novel, you know that the days of Austen, Dickens and Trollope are long over.

It is time then, to bring back the art of story telling. It’s time for genuinely talented writers to be brought back to the front line of literature and for the celebrities of the moment to be denied the chance to get worthless pieces of tabloid driven material published. How do we this? By remembering just how to tell a good story.

The number one rule in any good story is believable, sympathetic characters. If an author gets the characters right, even if their writing is not up to a great standard, the characters will engage the reader, and more than likely the story will be read the whole way through. Good characters should have background stories, should have interesting and varying personalities, and there should always be at least one character that the reader doesn’t know everything about. Leave the reader with something to figure out for themselves. It will keep them turning the pages. Or if its verbal storytelling, keep them listening.

To keep interest, the story must be interesting. This might sound pretty obvious, but a lot of stories out there on the internet and in magazines are not interesting. They don’t have a good premise, they have nothing for the reader to grip onto, they don’t leave you wanting more.

To tell a good story, the story must be consistent. If it starts well, it must continue well, and it must end well. The majority of books and stories out there are topsy-turvy. They may start out with a great idea, but the author doesn’t follow through with it, so the reader loses interest.

There are many people writing online nowadays, and in one way this is fantastic, but in other ways its a little bit of a curse. The standard of grammar and spelling has fallen dramatically in the past few years, with the growing trend of text messaging and instant messaging online. You can see this in effect nowhere better than in online articles and stories. This includes what you would think would be reputable newspaper websites. It is shocking the level that bad spelling and grammar has been allowed to rise to. For written storytelling, it is essential that you’re spelling is correct. For a lot of people a seemingly little thing like constant bad spelling and grammar will make them stop reading.

A lot of online writers seem to forget the importance of staying in the proper tense. If an author starts their story in the past tense, there is nothing more off putting than the story suddenly being changed to the present tense. This happens from paragraph to paragraph I’ve noticed.

Storytelling is still an art, and a very important one at that. People can be lost in the wealth of entertainment opportunities that are now available, but literature and reading has been around for centuries and will continue to be around for many years to come. The important thing is that we don’t let standards of storytelling continue to slide.