Are You a Dedicated Storyteller?


I recently attended the 2018 Fall Rochester Writers’ Conference at Oakland University and, after a day of interesting presentations, plus conversations with a significant number of the other attendees, one resounding thought from it stays with me.

Everyone enjoys a good story.

Telling one, however, isn’t as easy as it seems. It takes a willingness not only to learn, but to understand, the different elements and techniques of the craft, and it involves a heck of a lot of practice.

In other words, dedication.

However, regardless of genre or style, all good stories have common elements. When developing your next narrative work, make sure you’re paying careful attention to all of them.

Setting
The setting is the time and location in which your story takes place. Settings can be very specific, such as the one that begins my novel REICHOLD STREET:

It was late August, 1962, when I first saw Albert Parker. After all this time, I still remember the year quite distinctly. It was my second teenage summer and, like discovering I had a sexual identity, it was a part of life’s first great transition. I had been waiting months for something special to happen, something magical. Something like having Marilyn Monroe show up on my doorstep….”

But they can also be broad and descriptive, such as “…a tired little cottage on a lonely night….”

Either way you choose to go, a good, well-established setting creates the intended mood, while providing the backdrop and environment for your story.

Characters
A story often includes a number of central characters, each with a different role or purpose. Central characters are vital because the plot revolves around them.

However, regardless of how many characters a story ultimately has, there is almost always a protagonist and antagonist.

The protagonist is the main character, with a clear goal to accomplish or a conflict to overcome. They don’t always need to be admirable, but they must command an emotional involvement from the reader.

Antagonists oppose protagonists, standing between them and their ultimate goals. They can be presented as persons, places, things, or situations that represent a tremendous obstacle.

Plot
Hopefully you know the plot is the sequence of events that connect the audience to the protagonist and his or her ultimate goal.

Conflict
While they may sound similar, don’t confuse plot with conflict. While plot is the sequence of events, conflict drives the story and engages an audience. It keeps them white-knuckled on the edge of their seats, waiting to see if the protagonist will overcome the obstacle.

Conflict creates tension and builds suspense, and those are the elements that make the story interesting. Without conflict, you’ve done little more than write a statement.

Theme
The theme is what the story is really about. It’s the main idea or underlying meaning. A story may have both a major theme that is intertwined and repeated throughout the whole narrative, and minor themes that appear more subtly, and don’t necessarily repeat.

Often, it’s the storyteller’s personal opinion on the subject matter.

Narrative Arc
A strong story plot has a narrative arc that has four required elements of its own:

    Setup: The world in which the protagonist exists prior to the journey. The setup usually ends with the conflict being revealed.
    Rising Tension: The series of obstacles the protagonist must overcome. Each obstacle is usually more difficult and with higher stakes than the previous one.
    Climax: The point of highest tension, and the major decisive turning point for the protagonist.
    Resolution: The conflict’s conclusion. This is where the protagonist finally overcomes the conflict, learns to accept it, or is ultimately defeated by it. Regardless, this is where the journey ends.

While every story is different, a successful one captivates its audience and inspires an emotional response. If you have learned to craft a compelling story by engaging an active audience, you can truly call yourself a master of the art of storytelling.

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My novel “Blood Lake” was a Readers’ Favorite Bronze Medal Winner and a ForeWord Indie Finalist. It was just named a 2018 book-of-the-year finalist by TopShelf Magazine.

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I’ll be signing books at the Books & Authors Event at Leon & Lulu in Clawson on Sunday, October 28.

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Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

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You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

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Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

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8 Responses to “Are You a Dedicated Storyteller?”

  1. Barbara Rebbeck Says:

    HI! I remember you from the Favorites ceremony in Miami. Congrats on your further success. I have just finished my second novel, switching from YA, NOLA Gals to a psychological thriller called The Girl from the USO. This genre is fun to write as you have to play a cat & mouse game with the reader. Twists abound. As always I have read tons of novels in this genre and done a mountain of research as the book begins in 1941 In Detroit and finishes in Cornwall, England. Good luck at Leon & Lulu’s. I may stop by to check out all the books.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. hellojenbug Says:

    Great post Ron! Even nonfiction requires some of these elements. Even though it’s true it’s still a story that needs to keep the reader wondering just how it all turns out. You could teach writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bob Wonnacott Says:

    Ron,
    As always, another terrific post of valuable information that every emerging writer can use. I missed the Rochester Writing Conference but will be attending the DWW Conference in November. Hope to see you Sunday at Leon & Lulu’s.

    Bob Wonnacott

    Liked by 1 person

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